INDUSTRIES IN BIHAR IN COLONIAL TIMES

INDUSTRIES IN BIHAR IN COLONIAL TIMES

The onset of Industries has been brought in the time when India was a colony. This piece explores the unheard saga of the Industries in Bihar in the colonial times.

‘Industry is the Soul of Business and the Keystone of prosperity’

-Charles Dickens

India as a country began assembling under the English Colonial Umbrella from the mid 19th Century. How could Bihar- a state from North/East be exempted from colonization? Though the British Raj is remembered for its oppressive behaviour, we sure can give credits for the setup and development of Industries that was done by them. 

Talking of Bihar, did the setting up of Industries benefit the state? Did it ever go down as it was planned? 

Major industries in bihar

Industries in Bihar in Colonial times was just on papers. A part of the Bengal Presidency (along with parts of Orissa) till as late as 1911 and Bihar was excluded from even the passing goods of colonisation. Since all development was focussed around Calcutta, Bihar remained as rural as it had been for centuries. The land of the Mauryas, the land of the Golden age was thrown to the thick dark clouds of underdevelopment.  

Other than setting up industries in parts of Bihar which had excellent trade routes, the Colonizers decided to re-orient Bihar’s agriculture to attend to foreign markets, paying very little interest to local affairs. New laws such as the Permanent Settlement not only leveraged centuries-old casteist-feudal structures but made them even more exploitative in nature. 

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Manufacturing industries in bihar

Largely agriculture-based town and villages of Bihar were far from the league of Industry Set Up in the early 20th Century. Since the state already had a significant set of small scale industries which were entirely put by the locals, Bihar saw a rise in the same by a very meagre margin.

Medieval history of bihar

The Babu Sahabs who were fascinated with the small scale industry products like Bangles, handmade fans contributed to the business growth in the region. These small-scale enterprises were directly contributing to the self-sustainability of the villages and towns.

The famous cities of Bihar such as Magadh (Gaya), Patliputra, Sitamarhi, Purnea, Bhagalpur, Chhapra, Ara acted as prime areas for the development of the state economy on a whole.

Although with the arrival of the external trading forces and successive invasions as well as the internal weaknesses, the village economy began to debase. The so-called elite started replicating the better and original goods produced in the state. The cheaply available British finished products such as clothes made the rural economy to deteriorate.

 The regional market of various towns of Bihar had a well-acquired name throughout the country until all the goods were started off being made with the help of big machines and in the newly set up factories. The cheap price of those goods brought down on the beautifully crafted products and the reason why even the small scale industries had to face a downfall.

Not able to bear this downfall financially, the people started moving towards the last resort that would help them earn their bread and butter- Agriculture. 

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Industrial growth in bihar

 Twenty years into the new century, Bihar failed to rise as an Industry settlement in India and was merely known as a wheat-producing state. The people of Bihar thus were deprived of the massive employment opportunity these industries and factories would make flow. 

 This very foundation of setting up of new technology was not offered to Bihar, making the state a crippled economy for the adversities to come in future.

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