Question: British industrial and economic policies were one of the reason for destruction of traditional Indian handicrafts and arts industry. Discuss.
Answer: British economic policy in India was towards using India as a colony for supplying raw materials to industries in Britain and market for finished products. To achieve this objective, British had to eliminate competition which they did by destroying local industries.
How domestic industry was destroyed
- High taxes
High taxes were imposed on export of Indian made products. The local industries were forced to produce only the items that had use for British. British products were taxed lower for giving a competitive advantage. In Britain too, Indian made products were charged high.
- Legislative measures
Measures like making rules for preventing Indian made ships for sailing were taken up. The Dhows were replaced by British ships, which resulted in decline ship building industry.
- Changing mind-set
British policies aimed at modifying Indian population to adopt their lifestyle so that they can act as consumers of British products. The products included British dress, cigars, alcohol, shoes etc.
Effects of destruction of handicrafts and arts on Indian population
As people lost their livelihood due to loss of traditional industries, poverty arose. People had very little to support their lives. The economic policies pushed lakhs of people below poverty line.
With no source of income and no other skills to survive, people began suffering from poverty related issues including hunger. This was further strengthened by subsequent droughts.
No source of livelihood in rural areas resulted in migration towards cities. People began settling in cities and new cities and towns came into existence.
Domestic traditional industries were replaced by British owned industries in India. These industries depended on Indian raw materials and supplied finished products to other British colonies.
Thus, British economic policies were the main reasons for economic stress in India. The revenue generated in India was invested in Britain. This came to be known as ‘drain of wealth’.