Cotton industrial labour works in the cotton

Cotton textile is an indigenous industry because it was started and developed by pre dominantly Indian capital and entrepreneurship. At present India stands third in the world in the production of cotton textile. It is one of the largest industries in terms of employment and industrial production.

The cotton textile industry is the oldest and single largest industry of India. Directly or indirectly, more than 15 million people depend on this industry. About 20% of all the industrial labour works in the cotton textile industry.

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Kawasji Dhaber started first successful cotton textile mill on modern lines in Mumbai in 1854. Later, two factories – Shahpur mill and Calico mill – were established in Ahmedabad. By 1879-80, there were 58 mills in the country. World wars gave impetus to the industry and the number of mills went up to 423 in 1947. The industry suffered a great setback due to partition of the country. India got 409 mills with 27 per cent of cotton producing area after partition.

After Independence this industry flourished well and the number of mills reached 1782 in 1998. Of this, 192 mills were in public sector, 151 in cooperative sector, and 1439 mills in private sector. Besides these, handlooms and power looms increased phenomenally during this period.

Cotton cloth is produced in three sectors: (i) mills, (ii) powerlooms, and (iii) handlooms. Cotton accounts for more than 73 per cent of the total fibre consumption in the spinning mills and more than 58% of the total fibre consumption in the textile sector.

The decentralised powerloom sector plays a vital role in meeting the needs of the country. Contribution of this sector to the total cloth production of the country is 59.2 per cent. The powerloom industry produces a wide variety of clothes, both grey as well as processed with intricate designs. Handloom sector provides employment to over 65 lakh persons and constitutes nearly 19 per cent of the total cloth produced in the country.

Location of Cotton Textile Industry:

The location of cotton textile industry depends upon several factors, important among them being supply of raw materials, fuel, chemicals, machinery, labour, transport and market. Any of these factors may determine the location of this industry. In India, the localisation of the cotton mill industry has been brought about chiefly by three factors, viz. market, abundant raw material and ease of importing machinery and mill stores from abroad.

Because of its large population and location in tropical and sub­tropical latitudes, India possesses huge market for cotton cloth. Cotton is a pure raw material and there is no difference in transport costs of cotton or finished cloth.

Large centres of cotton textile industry have developed where cotton is abundant. Before the start of mill industry, practically all cotton was brought to Mumbai for export, and therefore it was readily available to mills located there. It had also the advantage of importing machinery and mill stores from abroad. Required capital was also readily available. By the end of the 19th century, Mumbai, with 82 mills, claimed more than half of the installed capacity of India.

But after 1921, dispersal of industry set in. The initial dispersal was due to the penetration of railway lines into peninsular region. New centres like Coimbatore, Madurai, Bangalore, Nagpur, Indore, Solapur and Vadodara were favourably located in respect of raw material, market and labour than the places of original locations. Cotton textile industry also reached places, with additional advantages, such as nearness to coal mines (Nagpur), excellent financial facilities (Kanpur), and wide market with port facility (Kolkata).

Development of hydroelectric power in the country also favoured the dispersal of the textile industry. The extraordinary rapid expansion of the spinning mills in Tamil Nadu, particularly in Coimbatore, Madurai and Tirunelveli was boosted by the completion of the Pykara project and readiness of the local industrialists to take advantages of the new source of power.

The industry has also shifted from regions of high labour cost to those of low cost. Hence, after 1933 new cotton mills were located at Madurai, Tirunelveli, Coimbatore, Ujjain, Bharuch, Agra, Hathras, etc.

India is the largest producer of cotton textiles in the world, producing more than even USA and Russia. At present there are 1166 cotton textiles mills throughout the country, producing more than 2000 crore metres of cloth annually.

The cotton textile industry is developed in most parts of the country, but most of the mills are concentrated in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.

1. Mumbai (known as Lancashire of India), in Maharashtra, is one of the largest centres of the cotton textile industry. There are 122 cotton mills in Mumbai. The other important centres in Maharashtra are Solapur, Pune, Nagpur, Yavatmal, Akola and Nashik.

2. Ahmedabad, in Gujarat, is the second largest cotton-manufacturing city in India. There are 118 cotton mills in Ahmedabad. Although these mills are smaller is size than those in Mumbai, they specialize in liner textile. Ahmedabad is famous for the manufacture of dhotis and sarees.

Ahmedabad is known as the “Manchester of India”. It has the same advantages as Mumbai except for harbour facilities. But it is not far from the port facilities of Mumbai and Kandla and so it avails the services of import and export of both these ports.

The other important centres for the cotton textile industry in Gujarat are Vadodara and Surat.

3. Tamil Nadu has the largest number of cotton mills in the country. It is the third largest producer of cotton textiles in the country. The largest number of mills are however, in the city of Coimbatore which has over 200 small and big factories.

Most of these mills are spinning mills and manufacture yarn of different grades. Weaving is done mostly by handloom and powerloom sectors. The important cotton textile centres in Tamil Nadu are Coimbatore. Madurai. Salem. Tirunelveli and Tuticorin in. The mills in Tamil Nadu are small but they concentrate on spinning which provides yarn.

4. One of the other important centres for cotton textiles is Kolkata in West Bengal with 32 mills. It enjoys all the advantages of Mumbai and Ahmedabad except the availability of raw cotton in this region. Raw cotton has to be brought from distant cotton-growing region of the Deccan Plateau.

5. Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh is the most important cotton-manufacturing centre in the state. It is known as the “Manchester of Northern India”. It takes advantage of cheap labour and wide market in the densely populated Northern Plain of India, and cheap transport through the network of railways.

6. Gwalior, Indore and Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh are some of the other important cotton- manufacturing centres of India.


India is one of the largest exporter of cotton goods in the world but it faces stiff competition from Taiwan, Korea and Japan which have the advantage of latest machinery and lower prices. India exports cotton goods to countries of Asia and Africa. Thus, India’s cotton textile industry generates foreign exchange, provides employment to millions of people and supports other industries like chemicals for dyeing and bleaching, packaging and transport.

In north, this industry is localised in western Uttar Pradesh, Kanpur with 14 mills is the largest centre. Modinagar, Moradabad, Hathras, Saharanpur, Aligarh, Agra, Lucknow and Varanasi are worth mentioning. In West Bengal, cotton textile mills are located in the Hughli region. Haora, Serampur, Kolkata and Shyamnagar are important centres. This region is known for hosiery industry.

Handloom and Powerloom Industries:

Along with mills have flourished in north eastern cotton growing tract of Karnataka. Davangere, Hubli, Bellary, Mysore and Bangalore are important centres. Cotton textile mills in Andhra Pradesh are concentrated in the cotton growing Telangana region. Most of them are spinning mills. Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Warangal and. Guntur are important centres.

Handloom weaving is one of the largest economic activity after agriculture providing direct and indirect employment to more than 43 lakh weavers and allied workers. This sectors contributes nearby 15% of the cloth production in the country. The sector has 23.77 lakh handlooms. During 2011-12 production in the sector reported to be 5178 million sqr. Meters In addition to various on-going schemes and programmes.

The Government has launched Deen Dayal Hathkargha Protshan Yojana, set up a National centre for Textile Design recently and has introduced a scheme for reimbursement of CENVAT on Hand Yarn.


The decentralised powerloom sector plays a pivotal role in meeting the clothing needs of the country. The estimated number of power dooms in decentralized sector in the country till 31-08-11 was 2298050. The contribution of powerloom sector to the total cloth production of the country is to the extent of 62% and it contributes significantly to the export earnings of the country.


The handicraft sector enjoys a special significance in the country’s economy. The office of the development commissioner (Handicrafts) has been implementing various development schemes at the central level to supplement the efforts of the states in the handicrafts sector.

Man-made Yarn and Filament Yarn:

The industry comprises fibre and filament yarn manufacturing units of cellulosic origin. This industry has a vital role to play in the textile industry in the sense that above 39% of the raw material consumed is manufactured by the man-made fibre/yarn industry. The industry contributes over 34 per cent of the raw material consumption of textile mills in India.


The Indian textile industry contributes substantially to India’s export earnings. At present, the exports of textile (including handicrafts coir and jute) accounts for about 24.46% of the total exports from India and are the largest net foreign exchange earner for the country as the import content in textile goods is very little as compared to other major export products. Yarn, cotton fabrics, man-made yarn and fabrics, wool and silk fabrics, made ups and garments are exported.

Jute Goods Industry:

The Jute industry in the country is traditionally export oriented. This is the second important industry, next to cotton textile. In the world perspective, India is the major producer of both raw jute and jute products. Out of the total world production of Jute Kenaf and allied fiber of 3.0 million tonnes in 2007-08, India produced 1.8 million tonnes. In percentage terms India accounted for 60%, of world production.

There are 83 composite jute mills in India. Out of the total 83 Jute mills, 64 jute mills are located in West Bengal, 3 each in Bihar and UP. 7 in Andhra Pradesh and 1 each in Assam and Tripura. As on 3.1.2010 total number of looms installed in the jute industry stood at 48245 consisting 23372 Hessian looms 22148 sacking looms 1058 CBC looms and other at 1060.

India ranks number one in raw jute goods production and number two in export of jute goods in the world. Jute is the head of the family of fibres and also the toughest of them all, and as an industrial fibre. It has unrivalled qualities as a packaging material for the heavy work of trade and industry.

The industry is concentrated mainly in areas where the raw material is produced and is cheap as it cannot bear the cost of transportation over long distances. Cheap labour and availability of port facility at Kolkata have also been important factors in localisation of the industry in West Bengal.

The raw jute which is the chief raw material of this industry is a “pure raw material” as it imparts full weight to the finished products. The loss of weight in the process of manufacture is almost negligible. The greatest concentration of the industry occurs in the Hooghli river basin in West Bengal, within a radius of 60 kms of Kolkata, because it accounts for 90 per cent of India’s output of raw jute.

The network of waterways which connect the most important jute growing regions of Bengal offer favourable facilities for assemblage and transportation of raw jute from centre of production to centre of manufacture.

The availability of coal as source of power from Asansol and Raniganj has been important factor. Port facility of Kolkata and humid climate necessary for jute manufacture have provided favourable position. Most of the jute mills in West Bengal are located along the Hughli River. Factors responsible for their concentration here are location of jute producing areas close to the jute mills and inexpensive water transport.

Availability of abundant water for processing of jute is also very important. Cheap labour, banking, insurance facilities and port facilities for export of jute products are the other factors. The greatest concentration of mills lies within 24 kms belt extending from Rishra on the north bank to Naihati in the south. The important centre of the mills are Rishra Titlagarh, Budge-Budge, and Howrah etc.

There has been slight dispersion of the jute industry from West Bengal to other states. Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa have number of jute mills. Further dispersal of jute mills are possible if jute cultivation are encouraged in other states.

The goods like gunny bags, carpets, tarpaulin and canvas are the chief products of jute industry. Fine yarn is blended with other fibres like silk and cotton to produce better quality cloth. Jute industry has been one of the important foreign exchange earners in the country. At present among the various problems facing the jute industry is its dependence upon raw jute from Bangladesh.

It is also facing problems because of very stiff competition from the synthetic fibres which are cheaper than jute fibres and goods. The government set up in 1971 the Jute Corporation of India Ltd to stablise the prices of raw jute at remunerative levels and to market jute goods abroad. To offset the harmful effects of the decline in the export of jute goods, new uses of jute goods are being found.

As a measure to use jute in non-packaging sectors, the government has under taken a number of steps for diversification. The most important aspect of the diversification programme is the UNDP assisted National Jute programme under which assistance of the order of US dollar 230 lakh from UNDP is being utilised by providing matching inputs from the Government of India. To fulfill these objectives the National Centre for jute diversification has been set up.

Before independence and even afterwards the jute industry brought sizeable amount of foreign exchange from export. At present, the industry faces a number of challenges.

Demand for jute carpets and packing materials needs to be promoted. High production cost and stiff competition in international market have reduced the overall demand for jute products. Synthetic substitutes are also posing problems for the industry. The main buyers of Indian jute products are the United States of America, Canada, Russia, United Arab Republic, Australia and United Kingdom.

Importance of Jute Industry:

The Jute sector has been playing an important role in the economy of the country in general and the eastern region in particular. About four million farmers, most of them small and marginal, are engaged in the cultivation of Jute and Mesta and about two lakh workers are employed in Jute industry.

For ensuring the mandatory percentage of packaging of sugar and food grains in Jute bags, the Government has issued an order under the Jute Packaging Materials (Compulsory Use in Packing Commodities) Act, 1987 (JPM).

Woollen Industry:

It is one of the oldest Textile Industry. The first woollen industry was set up in Kanpur in 1876. India being a tropical country, the need for woollens is limited to the winter months in northern India. As a result this industry is not well-developed. In addition, indigenous wool is of poor quality so we depend on countries like U.K. and Australia to meet our needs of raw material.

The requirements for the woollen textile industry are wool, wool waste and rags, and plenty of soft water for the processing and dyeing of wool. The woollen industry is market oriented and so more than 80% of the mills are located in northern India. Punjab and Haryana are the most important states for this industry. The important centres in these states are Dhariwal, Amritsar and Ludhiana.

The other important centres in other parts of the country are Delhi, Srinagar, Kanpur, Bangalore, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Jamnagar, Gwalior, Chennai and Kolkata. These centres make fine woollen textiles using imported wool.

Shahjahanpur, Agra and Mirzapur are the important centres in Uttar Pradesh. Ahmedabad and Jamnagar belong to Gujarat. Panipat and Gurgaon are the centres of Haryana. Bikaner and Jaipur in Rajasthan are other important centres. Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, and Bangalore in Karnataka are also important woollen producing centres in the country.

Hosiery producing units are located primarily in Punjab. Haryana and Tamil Nadu. Good quality raw wool is imported from Australia. Indian woollen goods are exported to the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, Canada and several European countries. Shortage of raw wool, lack of internal market and low quality of woollen products are some of the problems of this industry.

Silk Textiles:

India is well-known for the production of silk and silk goods. Four varieties of silk, namely mulberry, tasar, eri muga are produced in the country. There are about 90 silk textile mills; there are also small and medium units engaged in the production of silk textiles. India produces about 8.5 lakh kg. of silk yarns. More than nine-tenth of the production comes from Karnataka, West Bengal, and Jammu and Kashmir.

Main silk manufacturing centres in Karnataka are Bangalore, Kolar, Mysore and Belgaum, Murshidabad and Bankura in West Bengal, Anantnag, Baramula and Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir. The silk industry is a cottage industry with an agricultural base and “plays a very important role in the economy of the country. It provides employment to over 4.5 million people. There are two types of sericulture – mulberry and non-mulberry.

The mulberry sector is better organised and accounts for nearly 90% of the natural silk produced in India. India enjoys the distinction of being the only country producing all the five known commercial varieties of silk, viz. Mulberry, Tropical Tassar, Oak Tassar, Eri and Muga (of which the golden yellow muga silk being unique to India. India continues to be the second largest producer of silk in the world.

Among the four of silk in the world. Among the four varieties of silk produced as 2010-11. Mulberry accounts for 80.2% (16360 MT) Eri 13.5% (1260 MT) Tasar 5.7% (1166MT) and Mung 0.6%, (124MT), of the total raw silk Production. Mulberry silk is produced in Karnataka, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. The non-mulberry silk like the tasar, eri and muga are produced in Assam, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand and Meghalaya. West Bengal produces both mulberry and tussar silk.

The important silk-weaving centres are Bangalore and Mysore in Karnataka, Kamrup and Navgaon in Assam, Murshidabad and Bankura in West Bengal, Hazaribagh, Bhagalpur in Bihar and Ranchi in Jharkhand, Jammu and Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Coimbatore, Salem, Tirunelveli and Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, Ludhiana, Jallandhar and Amritsar in Punjab, Warangal in Andhra Pradesh and Mumbai, Pune and Solapur in Maharashtra.

Indian silk is in great demand in Europe and Asia. The United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Singapore are the major importers of silk dress materials. The Indian silk industry has tough competition with China, Thailand and Italy. Tassar silk is being promoted as ‘Green Silk’ and ‘Organic Silk’ in the domestic and export markets.

India is the second largest producer of silk and contributes about 18 per cent to the total raw silk production. In 2011-12 India’s raw silk production touched 23,000 tons, rising at a year- on-year rate of 12.6 percent. Under the 12th plan, the government has proposed spending Rs. 27.99 billion for enhancing mulberry silk production in the country.

The proposed sum is 2.5 times higher than the 11th plan. This sector employs 6 million people, mainly in rural areas. The export basket consists of Natural Silk Yarn Fabrics, Made-ups, Ready Made Garments, Silk Carpets and Silk Waste. The government has launched the Silk Mark Scheme for the board promotion of silk and introduced the Central Bank Board (Amendment) Bill 2005 for regulating the quality of Silk Worm Seeds in parliament in August 2005.

Synthetic Textiles:

The man-made fibres of rayon, Terylene, Dacron and nylon are collectively known as synthetic fibres. Rayon is made from cellulose which is obtained from wood pulp Terylene from oil and nylon from coal. Human-made fibres form an important segment of our textiles industry.

Special qualities like strength, durability, dye ability and workability of synthetic fibres revolutionised the textile industry. They are derived from wood pulp, coal and petroleum through chemical processes. For better finish, they are often mixed with natural fibres like cotton, silk and wool.

Synthetic fibres are widely used in manufacturing of fabrics because of their inherent strength, durability, washability and resistance to shrinkage. These fabrics are equally popular in urban and rural areas.

Though nylon industry in India developed after the Second World War, it grew rapidly in 1960s obtaining feedstock from petroleum refineries. Units of manufacturing nylon filament and polyester filament yarns are at Kota, Pimpri, Mumbai, Modinagar, Pune, Ujjain, Nagpur and Udhna. Acrylic staple fibre is manufactured at Kota and Vadodara.

Plants of polyester staple fibre are at Thane, Ghaziabad, Manali, Kota and Vadodara. Production of synthetic fibres was 1567 thousand tonnes in 2000-01. The Vardhaman Acrylics Limited commissioned a 16,500 tonnes acrylic plant during 2000-01.

Plants manufacturing fibre intermediates also made remarkable progress. They produced 2385 thousand tonnes in 2000-01. The Haldia Petrochemicals Limited has increased the capacity of the existing plants. Besides these major products, petrochemical industries produced 77 tonnes of elastomers and 359 tonnes of synthetic detergents in 2000-01.

Khadi and Handloom Industry:

The Khadi and Handloom Industry is a very important industry in India. It produces more than one-third of the cloth manufactured in the country. It includes cotton, woollen and silk textiles. This is a labour-intensive industry which provides full-time or part-time employment to a large number of people who can supplement their meagre incomes.

More people are employed in this sector than the total number of persons employed in organized industries and mining put together. This can help us understand the importance of this industry in our economy.

Historical Importance of Khadi:

In our independence (swadeshi) movement, this simple industry proved formidable for the British and embodied the quiet determination and self-dependence of the Indian masses. Gandhiji’s charkha on which he spun yarn everyday and encouraged everyone to do so became the inspiring symbol of the Indian flag in 1921.

Problems of the Khadi and Handloom Industry:

This industry is facing a number of problems which has adversely affected its development.

1. The quantity, quality and availability of raw materials is very unreliable and unsatisfactory.

2. The looms are outdated and the products do not satisfy the changing tastes and fashions.

3. The craftsmen are poor and lacking in technical knowledge to modernize their equipment. There are no proper facilities for cheap credit.

4. The khadi and handloom products face stiff competition from mill-made cloth.

5. The industry is unable to maintain the standard and quality of its products.

6. The marketing of the khadi and handloom products is not organized.

Governmental Measures to Promote the Khadi Industry:

Under the Five Year Plans, the Government has set up the All India Handloom Board, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission to improve, develop and modernize this important industry. They have taken many specific measures for its improvement.

1. The use of handloom products are encouraged by the government for its use and it issues special orders for their supply,

2. A cess has been levied on corresponding mill-cloth. The revenue that the cess yields is used for the development of the handloom industry.

3. Certain limits of production have been reserved for the handloom industry. For example there is a limit placed on the production of sarees by mills.

4. Assistance is available to improve their techniques of production and management.

3. Special provisions have been made to provide financial aid.

6. Industrial estates and rural industrial projects have been set up. Industrial cooperatives have been organized to provide support to the workers.