The Indian handicrafts that had made the country famous, collapsed under the colonial rule. There was a sudden and quick collapse of the urban handicrafts which had for centuries made India’s name a byword in the markets of the entire civilised world. During the first half of 18th century, India was the biggest manufacturing nation in the world. Indian handicraft products had a big market spread all over the world from South-East Asia to China to Central Asia to Persia to Europe.
British alone and their policies were responsible for decline of traditional art and craft Industries. The reasons are as follows:
- One way free trade: The policy of one-way free trade adopted by the British with respect to India doomed the fate of Indian handicrafts
- Exploitation: The British exploited Indian craftsmen in every possible way. They were forced to purchase raw materials from the company’s agents at high price and they were forced to sell their goods to company at low prices.
- Competition: Export of raw materials by company had increased the input cost of Indian handicrafts and they lost out in competition.
- Native rulers: The native rulers were a big patron of artisans & craftsmen. They used to consumer luxury goods manufactured by the Indian handicraft industry. The destruction of these native courts took away the patronage and market of Indian handicrafts.
- Railways: The railways enabled British manufactures to reach and uproot the traditional industries in the remotest villages of the country .
As a result Indian handicrafts faced a severe challenge from the foreign goods. India now became the exporter of raw materials to British industries and an importer of ready-made goods from Britain. This phenomenon of the ruination of Indian handicrafts industries is most well known as Deindustrialization.
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