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The Cynosure

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The text is taken from my copy of FIELDS, FACTORIES AND WORKSHOPS: or Industry Combined with Agriculture and Brain Work with Manual Work, Thomas Nelson & Sons, London, Edinburgh, Dublin and New York, 1912.



The views taken in the text about the industrial development of India are confirmed by a mass of evidence. One of them, coming from authorised quarters, deserves special attention. In an article on the progress of the Indian cotton manufacture, the Textile Recorder (15th October, 1888) wrote:-

"No person connected with the cotton industry can be ignorant of the rapid progress of the cotton manufacture in India. Statistics of all kinds have recently beep brought before the public, showing the increase of production in the country; still it does not seem to be clearly understood that this increasing output of cotton goods must seriously lower the demand upon Lancashire mills, and that it is not by any means improbable that India may at no very distant period be no better customer than the United States is now."

One hardly need add at what price the Indian manufacturers obtain cheap cottons. The report of the Bombay Factory Commission which was laid before Parliament in August, 1888, contained facts of such horrible cruelty and cupidity as would hardly be imagined by those who have forgotten the disclosures of the inquiry made in this country in 1840 - 1842. The factory engines are at work, as a rule, from 5 A.M. till 7, 8, or 9 P.M., and the workers remain at work for twelve, thirteen, fourteen hours, only releasing one another for meals. In busy times it happens that the same set of workers remain at the gins and presses night and day with half an hour's rest in the evening. In some factories the workers have their meals at the gins, and are so worn out after eight and ten days' uninterrupted work that they supply the gins mechanically "three parts asleep."

"It is a sad tale of great want on one side, and cruel cupidity on the other," the official report concludes. However, it would be absolutely erroneous to conclude that Indian manufactures can compete with the British ones as long as they continue the terrible exploitation of human labour which we see now. Forty years ago the British manufactures offered absolutely the same terrible picture of cruel cupidity. But times will come when Indian workers will restrain the cupidity of the capitalists, and the manufacturers of Bombay will be none the worse for that in their competition with the British manufactures.

The figures relative to the latest growth of the textile industries in India, given in the text, fully confirm the previsions expressed twenty-five years ago. As to the conditions of the workpeople in the Indian cotton-mills, they continue to remain abominable.


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