Sunday, July 28, 2013

From the history book

Here's an extract, from the book India and the Contemporary World - II, published by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT). The full text is available here, on NCERT's website. When quoting it here, I emphasize some parts in bold, and don't intend any copyright infringement.

once the East India Company established political
power, it could assert a monopoly right to trade. It proceeded
to develop a system of management and control that would
eliminate competition, control costs, and ensure regular supplies
of cotton and silk goods. This it did through a series of steps. 
First: the Company tried to eliminate the existing traders and
brokers connected with the cloth trade, and establish a more
direct control over the weaver. It appointed a paid servant called
the gomastha to supervise weavers, collect supplies, and examine
the quality of cloth. 
Second: it prevented Company weavers from dealing with other
buyers. One way of doing this was through the system of advances.
Once an order was placed, the weavers were given loans to purchase
the raw material for their production.
Those who took loans had to
hand over the cloth they produced to the gomastha. They could not
take it to any other trader. 
As loans flowed in and the demand for fine textiles expanded,
weavers eagerly took the advances, hoping to earn more.
Many
weavers had small plots of land which they had earlier cultivated
along with weaving, and the produce from this took care of their
family needs. Now they had to lease out the land and devote all their
time to weaving. Weaving, in fact, required the labour of the entire
family, with children and women all engaged in different stages of
the process. 
Soon, however in many weaving villages there were reports of
clashes between weavers and gomasthas. Earlier supply merchants had
very often lived within the weaving villages, and had a close
relationship with the weavers, looking after their needs and helping
them in times of crisis. The new gomasthas were outsiders, with no
long-term social link with the village. They acted arrogantly, marched
into villages with sepoys and peons, and punished weavers for delays
in supply – often beating and flogging them. The weavers lost the
space to bargain for prices and sell to different buyers: the price they
received from the Company was miserably low and the loans they
had accepted tied them to the Company.
The "advances" and "loans" extended by the Company to the weavers do bear some resemblance to FDI, don't they?