India has stepped into the 75th year of its Independence and there are celebrations around the country for the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. History textbooks always describe the first step of Indians towards their independence from the first war of Independence. But, before 1857 there were several efforts by Indians for India’s Independence that often went unrecognized. For instance, Tilka Manjhi, a tribal fighter, raised a war cry against the British in 1784 and he was hanged the next year.
Just like that the peasants, farmers, saints, students and armed forces, etc are credited for their role in the freedom struggle. But, one community that often goes unrecognized in this list is the Indian business community. The Indian business community that was in its initial days took the initiative of Industrialising the Nation despite British rule.
The British were hostile towards the Indian business community but they kept on with their patriotism and commitment to the nation. India was one of the richest countries in the world before it was attacked by the British, Afghan, and other foreign forces.
It used to account for 25% of the global industrial output in 1500 A.D. India was also known as ‘the Industrial workshop of the world’ in the 16th century. The Indian species, Handicrafts, textiles, and craftsmanship were well-known around the world.
But, soon the East India Company and then the British government took over India. The wealth, raw material, and other finished goods, textiles, etc got transferred to Britain. All the profits and businesses in Britain flourished with Indian supplies. The country that was once the Industrial workshop of the world was reduced to a mere raw material supplier to the British Industries. The old concept of self-independent villages was also destroyed and the wealth was drained from Indians in the form of various taxes.
When the world economy got a boost with the Industrial Revolution, India witnessed the battle of the plassey in 1757. From 1757, a formal occupation by the British of major Indian provinces began. There was low cost and large-scale production of machined goods in the world. India, along with other nations under Britain, became a raw material supplier for Europe. The British opened the Indian market for British traders, restricting and ending the control of the East India Company. The Indian economy was destroyed under the British government and the 19th century was the darkest phase of the Indian Economy.
At that time, the difference between the developed and developing countries increased. The developed countries flourished with the Industrial Revolution and developing nations colonized by the British became passive suppliers to the European business chain.
The British administration faced a revolt by the Indians and the traditional economic system of India was reduced to a mere British supplier. The British policy of capitalism got modified after the First World War because there was a setback for its colonialism around the world. At that time, the traditional Indian merchants and patriots took up the task to boost the Indian economy and develop industrialization.
It was an initiative for developing India and strengthening the fight against the British for Indian Independence. The Indian families and businessmen raised funds and started Indian business ventures for textile mills, jute mills, cement, steel, and cotton industries. This step became a base for developing the Indian economy after Independence when the economy was left under shackles after the British left.
In 1854, C.N Davar established the First textile mill in Bombay. Tata Group established Tisco in 1907 and Tata, Birla, Thapar, and Dalmia including others laid the industrial foundation of India. Their contribution often goes unnoticed but, it should be recognized because it gave funds to the freedom struggle initiatives of India. Although their contribution is not easily visible, they should be acknowledged for their efforts.