The Age of Industrialisation: TBSE Class 10 Social (History) notes

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Get here the notes, questions, answers, textbook solutions, summary, extras, and PDF of TBSE (Tripura Board) Class 10 Social Science (History) Chapter 4 “The Age of Industrialisation.” However, the provided notes should only be treated as references, and the students are encouraged to make changes to them as they feel appropriate.

The Age of Industrialisation


Industrialization was not just about the growth of factory production, but it also had an earlier phase referred to as proto-industrialization. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, merchants from European towns began moving to the countryside to persuade peasants and artisans to produce goods for the international market. The merchants could not expand production in the towns due to the powerful urban crafts and trade guilds that regulated competition and restricted the entry of new people into the trade. In the countryside, poor peasants and artisans began working for the merchants to supplement their income from cultivation. Each stage of production was controlled by a merchant, who employed 20 to 25 workers. The first factories in England appeared in the 1730s and their numbers multiplied in the late 18th century. The boom in cotton production in the late 19th century led to a series of inventions in the production process, which enabled higher output per worker. The cotton mill created by Richard Arkwright brought all the processes under one roof and allowed for better supervision and regulation of labour. Factories became an integral part of the English landscape in the early 19th century, but production still continued in the countryside.

The pace of industrialisation varied, but generally it was rapid. The cotton and metal industries were the most dynamic in Britain during the first phase of industrialisation, with cotton leading the way until the 1840s and then being replaced by the iron and steel industry. The expansion of the railway network in England and the colonies led to an increased demand for iron and steel. However, the new industries did not easily displace traditional industries, and even by the end of the 19th century, less than 20% of the total workforce was employed in technologically advanced industrial sectors. Textiles was a dynamic sector, but a large portion of the output was produced outside of factories in domestic units.

Traditional industries did not remain stagnant, but change was slow and often came from seemingly ordinary and small innovations. For example, in the food processing, building, pottery, glass work, tanning, furniture making, and production of implements sectors.

Technological changes occurred slowly and spread gradually across the industrial landscape. New technology was expensive and merchants and industrialists were cautious about using it, as machines often broke down and repair was costly. They were also not as effective as their inventors and manufacturers claimed. The steam engine is an example of this. James Watt improved the steam engine produced by Newcomen and patented the new engine in 1781, but it took years for the engine to be adopted by industrialists. Even the most powerful new technology, the steam engine, was slow to be accepted and widely used.

As a result, the typical worker in the mid-19th century was not a machine operator, but rather a traditional craftsperson and laborer. Historians now recognize this and understand that industrialisation was not just the growth of factory industries, but also a transformation of traditional industries and society as a whole.

In Victorian Britain, the abundance of labor in the market meant that wages were low and there was no shortage of human labor. This made industrialists uninterested in introducing machines that replaced human labor, as they would require large capital investment. Some industries, such as gas works and breweries, had a seasonal demand for labor and preferred to employ workers for the peak season. Additionally, in Victorian Britain, hand-made products symbolized refinement and class and were preferred by the upper classes.

The abundance of labor, however, affected the lives of workers negatively, as news of job opportunities drew hundreds of people to the cities, where not everyone had social connections to secure a job quickly. Seasonal work in many industries meant prolonged periods without work and increased the number of unemployed. The fear of unemployment made workers hostile to new technologies, such as the Spinning Jenny, which was introduced in the woolen industry. However, after the 1840s, the building boom in the cities created more employment opportunities in the transport industry, which doubled in the subsequent 30 years. Despite some increase in wages in the early 19th century, the real value of what workers earned fell significantly during the Napoleonic War due to rising prices. The income of workers also depended on the period of employment, as the number of days of work determined their average daily income. The poverty rate in urban areas was around 10% at best, but during economic slumps, like the 1830s, the proportion of unemployed rose to between 35% and 75% in different regions.

The changes brought about by the consolidation of East India Company power had a significant impact on the lives of weavers and other artisans. The elimination of competition and the establishment of a more direct control over the weavers by the Company through the appointment of a paid servant (gomastha) and the provision of advances, resulted in the weavers being tied to the Company and having limited bargaining power. The gomasthas were often outsiders with no long-term social link to the weaving villages, and their behavior was often seen as arrogant and abusive, resulting in clashes with the weavers. This led to a loss of independence and bargaining power for the weavers, as well as low prices for their goods. The loan system also meant that the weavers had to devote all their time to weaving, often requiring the labor of their entire family, and many had to lease out their land. Overall, these changes marked a significant shift in the power dynamic between the weavers and the East India Company, with the Company having greater control and the weavers having less autonomy.

The decline of the textile industry in India was due to several factors. Firstly, the British government imposed import duties on cotton textiles to protect their own cotton industries in Manchester. Secondly, British manufactures were sold in Indian markets, which increased exports of British cotton goods. This glutted the local market and made it difficult for Indian weavers to compete with cheap imported goods. Thirdly, the outbreak of the American Civil War disrupted the cotton supplies from the US, leading to a surge in the price of raw cotton in India, which made weaving unprofitable. Finally, the emergence of factories in India in the late nineteenth century flooded the market with machine-made goods, making it difficult for weaving industries to survive.

The capital for the industries came from various sources. Some industrialists, such as Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, made their wealth from trade with China, while others accumulated wealth through trade with other countries such as Burma or the Middle East. Some merchants who were not directly involved in external trade also invested in industries.

The people who set up the industries were from diverse backgrounds. Some were merchants who made their fortune through trade, while others were businessmen who had visions of developing industrial enterprises in India. Some industrialists, such as Dwarkanath Tagore and Dinshaw Petit, accumulated initial wealth from exports to China and raw cotton shipments to England. Others, such as Seth Hukumchand and G.D. Birla, traded with China.

The industrialization of India in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was heavily influenced by European managing agencies and the products they chose to produce and export. These agencies established tea and coffee plantations, mining operations, indigo, and jute production, but avoided competing with Manchester goods in the Indian market. As the Indian independence movement gained momentum, industrial groups began to shift from yarn production to cloth production to cater to the domestic market. After the First World War, Manchester could no longer compete with the Indian market, allowing local industrialists to consolidate their position and capture the home market. However, large industries remained a small segment of the Indian economy, with most production taking place in small workshops and household units. Handicrafts production actually expanded in the 20th century, with weavers adopting new technology to increase productivity and compete with mill industries. Despite the expansion of handicrafts production, the weavers often lived hard lives and worked long hours, but were able to survive due to the inability of mills to imitate specialized weaves, such as Banarasi or Baluchari Saris.

Textual questions and answers

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1. Explain the following:

a) Women workers in Britain attacked the Spinning Jenny.

Answer: When the Spinning Jenny was introduced in the woollen industry, women who survived on hand spinning began attacking the new machines. This conflict over the introduction of the Jenny continued for a long time.

b) In the seventeenth century merchants from towns in Europe began employing peasants and artisans within the villages.

Answer: In the seventeenth century, merchants from towns in Europe moved to the countryside due to the growing demand for goods in the international market, but the urban crafts and trade guilds, who had monopoly rights to produce and trade specific products, made it difficult for new merchants to set up business in towns. Therefore, these merchants turned to the countryside, where poor peasants and artisans were eager to work for them as they had tiny plots of land that could not provide work for all members of their households, and the disappearance of open fields and enclosing of commons made them look for alternative sources of income. The merchants offered advances to produce goods for them, and the peasant households agreed.

c) The port of Surat declined by the end of the eighteenth century.

Answer: The European companies gradually gained power – first securing a variety of concessions from local courts, then the monopoly rights to trade. This resulted in a decline of the old ports of Surat and Hoogly through which local merchants had operated. Exports from these ports fell dramatically, the credit that had financed the earlier trade began drying up, and the local bankers slowly went bankrupt. In the lastyears of the seventeenth century, the gross value of trade that passed through Surat had been Rs 16 million. By the 1740s it had slumped to Rs 3 million.

d) The East India Company appointed gomasthas to supervise weavers in India.

Answer: The East India Company established political power and a monopoly trading right in India. The Company developed a management and control system to control costs, eliminate competition, and ensure consistent supplies of cotton and silk goods. This was accomplished through a series of steps, one of which was the selection of gomasthas. The gomasthas were paid Company servants assigned to supervise weavers, collect supplies, and inspect the quality of cloth produced by the weavers. The Company also kept its weavers from dealing with other buyers by lending them raw material and requiring them to hand over the cloth produced to the gomastha, effectively eliminating competition.

2. Write True or False against each statement:

a) At the end of the nineteenth century, 80 percent of the total workforce in Europe was employed in the technologically advanced industrial sector. (False)

b) The international market for fine textiles was dominated by India till the eighteenth century. (True)

c) The American Civil War resulted in the reduction of cotton exports from India. (False)

d) The introduction of the fly shuttle enabled handloom workers to improve their productivity. (True)

3. Explain what is meant by proto-industrialisation.

Answer: Proto-industrialisation refers to a phase of industrialisation that occurred even before the growth of factory industry. It was a period of large-scale industrial production for an international market, but it was not based on factories. The term is used by many historians to describe this phase of industrialisation, which is often overlooked or associated with the setting up of the first factories, but was actually in place before the growth of factory industry.


1. Why did some industrialists in nineteenth-century Europe prefer hand labour over machines?

Answer: In Victorian Britain there was no shortage of human labour. Poor peasants and vagrants moved to the cities in large numbers in search of jobs, waiting for work. When there is plenty of labour, wages are low. So industrialists had no problem of labour shortage or high wage costs. They did not want to introduce machines that got rid of human labour and required large capital investment.

2. How did the East India Company procure regular supplies of cotton and silk textiles from Indian weavers?

Answer: The East India Company procured regular supplies of cotton and silk textiles from Indian weavers by establishing a system of management and control that aimed to eliminate competition, control costs, and ensure regular supplies. The company tried to eliminate existing traders and brokers connected with the cloth trade and establish more direct control over the weavers by appointing a paid servant called the gomastha to supervise weavers, collect supplies, and examine the quality of cloth. The company prevented the weavers from dealing with other buyers through the system of advances, where once an order was placed, the weavers were given loans to purchase the raw material for their production and had to hand over the cloth they produced to the gomastha, not being able to take it to any other trader. With the flow of loans and the demand for fine textiles expanding, many weavers eagerly took the advances, devoting all their time to weaving, which required the labor of the entire family.

3. Imagine that you have been asked to write ar article for an encyclopaedia on Britain and the history of cotton. Write your piece using information from the entire chapter.

Answer: Britain played a crucial role in the global cotton industry during the late 19th century. The production of cotton underwent major transformations in the 18th century, with a series of inventions that increased the efficiency of the production process, including carding, twisting and spinning, and rolling. This led to the creation of the cotton mill, which made it possible to produce stronger threads and yarn. Cotton was one of the most dynamic industries in Britain during this period, leading the way in the first phase of industrialization up until the 1840s.

However, the pace of change in traditional industries was not set by steam-powered cotton or metal industries. Nonetheless, seemingly ordinary and small innovations led to growth in many non-mechanized sectors such as food processing, building, pottery, glass work, tanning, furniture making, and production of implements.

Before the age of machine industries, India dominated the international market in textiles with its production of silk and cotton goods. The consolidation of power by the East India Company after the 1760s did not initially lead to a decline in textile exports from India. However, as cotton industries developed in England, industrial groups began to worry about imports from other countries and pressured the government to impose import duties on cotton textiles. At the same time, they persuaded the East India Company to sell British manufactures in Indian markets.

By the 1850s, cotton weavers in India faced a decline in their export market and a shrinking local market glutted with Manchester imports. The imported cotton goods were so cheap that weavers could not easily compete with them. By the 1860s, weavers faced a new problem as they could not get sufficient supply of raw cotton of good quality. The American Civil War cut off cotton supplies from the US, leading Britain to turn to India for raw cotton. This led to an increase in raw cotton exports from India and a corresponding increase in the price of raw cotton.

The first cotton mill in Bombay was established in 1854, with four mills in operation by 1862, and the first spinning and weaving mill of Madras began production in 1874. Cotton mills also came up in Bengal, north India, and Ahmedabad. These developments played a significant role in the growth of the cotton industry in India during this period.

4. Why did industrial production in India increase during the First World War?

Answer: Industrial production in India increased during the First World War due to several factors. The British mills were busy with war production, which led to a decline in imports into India, creating a vast home market for Indian mills. Indian factories were called upon to supply various war needs such as jute bags, cloth for army uniforms, tents, leather boots, horse and mule saddles, and other items. This led to the set up of new factories and the running of multiple shifts in the old ones, leading to an increase in the employment of new workers and longer working hours for everyone. As a result, industrial production boomed over the war years.

Extra/additional questions and answers/solutions

1. What is proto-industrialisation?

Answer: Proto-industrialisation refers to the large-scale industrial production for an international market that existed before the setting up of factories. This phase of industrialisation was not based on factories.

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54. What was the purpose of printing calendars?

Answer: The purpose of printing calendars was to popularize products and make advertisements reach a wider audience.

55. What were the consequences of the age of industries?

Answer: The consequences of the age of industries were major technological changes, growth of factories and the creation of a new industrial labour force.

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)

1. What was the first symbol of the new era in industrialization?

A. Textile
B. Cotton
C. Wool
D. Spinning

Answer: B. Cotton

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58. What was the message conveyed by figures of emperors and nawabs in advertisements and calendars?

A. Respect for product
B. Royal command
C. Quality
D. Nationalist message

Answer: A. Respect for product

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