Cotton — The Industrial Revolution

“Whoever says Industrial revolution says Cotton” — Hobsbawm. In the sixteenth Century cotton turned out to be the most important manufactured goods in the world trade. In the centuries that followed the bulk of cottons that criss-crossed the globe had their origins in the Indian sub continent, the pre-eminent centre for cotton manufacturing in the world until the nineteenth century Industrial Revolution. Economic Historians Observe “In shaping markets and serving fashion, Indian cottons prepared global consumer markets for the modern industrial age”.

In the intervening centuries India had to lose this leadership due to the Industrial Revolution in Britain that mechanized the Textile Industry. For more than 2 centuries the textile operations in terms of manufacturing, new products and fashion shifted towards the western world that were led by Europe and USA. This got a huge support with the advent of Man-made fibres sometime by the end of nineteenth century. Innovation, in terms of technology development and newer applications of raw materials such as cotton, flax, wool, silk and a whole host of man-made cellulosic and synthetic fibres allowed the west to continue the leadership. All these got huge support post World War II in terms of world trade policies that was obviously in favour of western world.

Subsequently, huge industrialisation in Asia and some other parts slowly made textile and apparel operations somewhat uneconomic in the western world. By the beginning of 2005 the world of textiles became free of quota i.e. there was no restriction in terms global trade. An unprecedented growth in China followed by India turned out to be hallmark of the industry.

A massive growth in the production of textile fibres catering to growing population particularly in the Asian continent led to major technological breakthrough for catering to newer needs, fashions and matching higher disposable incomes. India after centuries of gap is strongly positioning itself to have the major pie of such global changes.