Chapter 4:OUR PAST PART - IV
Industrial Revolution was the beginning of a period
in which many improvements and inventions were brought by men who
neither were educated in sciences nor wealthy but these inventions
changed the way production of goods was made in Europe. The
industrial revolution in Britain from 1780 to 1850 saw increase in
production by changing the means of production i.e. men to machines.
Economy was Britain grew and it affected the economy of European and
American countries too. However before the development the initial
period of industrial revolution also saw poor condition of workers,
bad living conditions and exploitation of labor by industrialists
this forced the government to pass laws to reform the situation.
England was the birthplace of industrial revolution due to stable
political system since the 17th century, a unified market of
England, Scotland, Wales and hence lesser taxes. Money was
recognized as a medium of exchange and people received wages or
salaries for their services which meant there was a larger choice to
spend their earnings and expand the market for sale of goods.
Agriculture revolution too emerged in England and the big landlords
enclosed the village common lands and consolidated their land
holdings. The smaller farmers were evicted, landless peasants and
herders then moved to towns to seek other employments.
London became the center of trade as it developed into a financial
capital. The indented coastline, sheltered bays and inland rivers
provided a cheaper mode of transportation than land as railways
weren't invented yet. The banks would finance the investment needs
of industrialists and soon the number of banks were built in
England. The position of a financial capital boosted the importance
Impact of Industrial Revolution
Coal and Iron industry was the starting place of the
revolution. England was fortunate to have coal and iron in the same
seams. Iron earlier was obtained by melting the ore by smelting
using charcoal obtained from timber. But as forests depleted a
second means of production was devised using coke. Coke was obtained
from coal and it gave a highly pure form of iron than charcoal. The
dependence on forests was reduced and coal industry and iron
industry developed together. Innovation in iron led to building of
many useful instruments and iron replaced wooden articles. The
shipping industry too developed with this as coastal coalfields were
linked by ports and coal could be transported through them. By 1848
England smelted more iron than rest of world together.
Cotton spinning and weaving industry developed due
to better inventions like spinning jenny, power loom. Earlier East
India company would import cloth from India and sell it in England
but soon it imported raw cotton and manufactured cloth and sold it
to the colonies. The industry of cotton became dominated by England
and soon its machine made cloth was unmatched. the colonization
ensured a smooth inflow of raw materials and consumption of finished
Steam Power replaced the traditional hydraulic
power obtained from water. James Watt developed the steam power and
then it replaced traditional sources and soon became a source of
energy that was responsible for 70% of the total production.
Canals and Railways were responsible for taking
industrialization to its next phase. As road transport was slow and
costly the first canal was built with the sole purpose of
transporting coal from source to industry. After this canal was
complete it reduced the cost of coal by half. The canal revolution
had began and when that too saw a bottleneck conditions were created
for a new mode off transport - Railways.
Railway engine saw the birth of a faster and cheaper mode of
transport. It increase the pace of industrialization as now goods
could be moved to different places easily. It led to construction of
more railways and soon entire England was connected by rail.
Effects of the Revolution
The industrial revolution created a wealthy class that owned the
means of production. This class wanted to increase profits and so
took the risks of investing in production. The wealth often
multiplied. But on the other hand the other face of industrial
revolution also reared its head. The laborers of these industries
didn't own anything and worked for a wage. Due to unemployment in
villages people migrated to towns and this led to overcrowding.
Unhealthy conditions and outbreaks of diseases made the life
expectancy very short for these people. They workers were paid
poor wages and so often women and children were employed as they
didn't rile at such wages. Entire families had to work as a single
member couldn't sustain all.
The government was indifferent to the labor problems. It passed
acts to ensure industrial production continued uninterrupted. It
also made right to strike, right to form unions illegal. The
workers were with no rights and no vote and hence the Parliament
only appeased the owners. However protests grew and workers would
burn machines and factories. Bread being a staple food was looted
and sold at a normal affordable rate instead of the high price
demanded by traders. A peaceful rally demanding rights was crushed
brutally and Combination Acts were passed to crush their demands.
Nationalist Movement in Indo - China
Indo - China refers to the place which has the three countries
Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. It was earlier under the Chinese
influence and used to be an important destination on the maritime
silk route. However it was colonized by France and to liberate
itself a freedom struggle was fought between the rulers and the
ruled. Even after independence in 1945 there was turmoil and it
took another 30 years to get the Republic of Vietnam.
Beginning of Colonization
The French defeated the Chinese and dominated this region by
1850's. Like other imperialist nations they too felt that colonies
were a sign of prestige and that they should bring the fruits of
development to the backward people in those regions. The
Vietnamese then felt the increasing interference in social and
cultural aspects. The french wanted to increase the rice
cultivation and built infrastructure for this. Soon Vietnam became
a major rice exporter.
The French traders pressurized the government to colonize Indo -
China to bring stability and protect their investments. The French
believed that to ensure more profits to the mother country from
colonialism the region had to be developed. this would have
increased the income of the natives and led them to make more
money to purchase French goods. But France did little to
industrialize Vietnam and it remained a backward rice exporting
Like British, french too were motivated by the civilizing
mission. They wanted to educate natives but were worried that
education would make them question colonial domination and even
threaten the employment of French who resided in Indo - China.
Education as a Weapon for colonization
The French used education to show the superiority of French
civilization and make the natives feel inferior. The natives would
then be compelled to accept the French as masters and respected
the french culture and traditions. The French also followed a
carrot and stick approach by punishing Vietnamese intellectuals
and rewarding those who studied in French with government jobs.
However to ensure Vietnamese didn't capture jobs held by French
residents most of the students were failed in the school leaving
Vietnamese intellectuals believed that this system led to
intellectual subjugation. However as the number of Vietnamese
teachers in schools increased they criticized the content and
preached aganst the french rule. This led to protests by people
against colonial rule. Similarly French too built cities where
French elites lived. These were built as architectural marvels and
other parts where natives lived became poorly built. Spread of
Bubonic plague in 1903 saw the French employing Viet workers to
kill rats but the Viets used their collective bargaining to get
higher benefits from the French. Protests against the French
interference in religious matters also was seen as Christian
missionaries were attacked for hurting religious beliefs of
natives who believed in Buddhism, Confucian tradition.
Rise of Communism
A new turn of events against french rule developed after the
communists entered the scene. Ho Chi Minh was the leader who
organized the communists and formed the Party. He resisted French
rule and was inspired by the Communist protests in Europe. During
the WWII, Japan occupied the Indo - China region and now Vietminh
had to fight two enemies. Soon in 1945 the established self rule
over Indo China and war war over.
The French reentered Indo China and installed a puppet government
there. This led to a civil war in which the French lost and in
1954 the Peace treaty was signed. The Vietminh had to accept a
division of the country into south and north. North was communist
ruled. South became under civil war as the democratic government
was replaced by an autocrat. The National Liberation Front of
rebels fought against it with the help of North. The US was afraid
of a communist takeover of a democratic country and entered the
war on side of the South.
US War in Vietnam
The world's most advanced country entered the war and it was
isolated right from the beginning. No ally supported it and
Americans too criticized the policy of their own government by
going into an indefensible war. The Chemical weapons, air bombs
were used an scores of people were killed. But US underestimated
the power of Vietnamese to fight and soon US had lost.
After US exit the NLF occupied the presidential palace and
unified the North and South.Saigon was renamed as Ho Chi
Minh City and became the capital of united Vietnam.
Indentured labor Migration from India
19th century world was a fast paced world with high economic
growth, higher misery. Increase in incomes for some also meant
poverty for others. Thus the story of indentured labor migration
was a two sided story.
Indian workers were recruited in large number by agents of
employers like Railroad firms, canal building or plantations.
These workers usually belonged to areas like UP, Bihar,
Tamil Nadu that saw famine and poverty. In order to
escape from the harsh life at home the people agreed to indentured
labor. Many times they were fooled by agents without revealing the
destination, type of work, pay etc.
The workers would sometimes escape from harsh work or blended
into local cultures. Thus indentured labor became a
second type of slave trade. After the contracts were
over the workers preferred living in these new places and so Caribbean,
Fiji, Malaya, Ceylon and Mauritius see a large number of Indian
origin inhabitants. This system was finally abolished
Consumerism, Post War Economic boom and finally Great Depression
The Great war saw a crisis in production as usual producing
grounds were now disrupted due to the war. The European countries
which were exporters saw turmoil and most of them reorganized
their industries to fuel armament manufacturing. Agriculture was
disrupted and now countries outside Europe saw an increase in
manufacturing and export. This war time boom led to more
investments, more jobs and rise in incomes. But when the war ended
in 1919 the economic activity was stopped and so people lost jobs.
In Europe a large number of working age men died and so labor
problems emerged. In colonies domestic manufacturing rose and
mother countries couldn't regain their upper hand in this.
US saw the increase in manufacturing activity. The US banks had
financed European countries during the war and so US became an
international creditor from an international debtor. The US saw
faster recovery after the war and so industrial production
increased. The Assembly line came an faster production emerged. To
increase consumption banks started increasing credit in cheap and
This consumerism also increased jobs, exports, incomes but lasted
only till 1929.
The US banks had extended large credit to Europe and now at the
first sight of trouble it started reducing the loans given. The
reduction in loans meant no investments in production and people
started losing jobs. Consumerism also reduced and so factories
reduced production. Layoffs increased. They people who lost jobs
couldn't purchase the industrial goods due to low purchasing
power. This cycle resulted in less jobs and so in turn less
The loans cost European banks to shut down and people lost their
Agriculture too saw a glut as farmers had to increase production
to maintain incomes from falling price of commodities. This led to
further fall in prices but so the farmers started burning excess
stocks to keep prices from crashing. So this cycle led to
Fig 1: Great Depression