Spinning and wearing of clotii has been carried on in India since times immemorial. Since BC1500 to AD 150, country was known for making cotton fabrics as a handicraft.
The muslin of Dhaka, Calicos of Calicut and embroidered cotton work of Surat and Vadodra were famous in the world for their fine quality, design and pattern. This art was mainly patronised in India by the rulers of those times.
But the hand made cloth of India could not compete with the machine made cloth of the UK. The Industrial Revolution had brought in new methods of fabrication and invented textile machines and techniques of spinning and weaving.
The English inventions revolutionized textile manufacturing by way of producing cheap cloth and in large quantities..
The cotton textile industry is one of the principal manufacturing industries of India employing about 18% of the total industrial labour force of the country.
The origin of cotton textile industry dates back to 1818. The first cotton mill was set up at Fortglaster near Kolkata. The art of weaving cloth had been known to the people of India since long. The first mill could not survive.
Thus, the real beginning of the industry came up in 1851, when the Bombay Spinning and Weaving Mills were set up at Bombay (Mumbai).
Later many more mills were established in the Mumbai region. The setting up of cotton mills in other centres like those of Ahmadabad, Nagpur, Sholapur and Kanpur was done after 1858.
The cotton textile industry in India made rapid progress on account of the following reasons:
1. With the start of Swadeshi Movement during the freedom struggle, most of the Indians boycotted British made clothes with the result that home industry got an impetus.
2. On account of the First World War, supplies from abroad were suspended as such there was no other alternative but to develop cotton textiles in the country.
3. The grant of protection to the industry further boosted textile manufacturing in the country.
4. Growth of population and improvement in the standard of living of the people caused a great demand for different types of textile manufacturing in India.
In India, the location of this industry depends upon certain geographic and economic factors. These are:
1. Raw material.
2. Source of power.
9. Means of transportation.
Indian textile industry holds an important position among textile manufacturing countries of the world. The country has made rapid strides in the recent past and is on the way to improvement and accelerating production of different types of fabrics.
The location of the mills is spread over 80 different centres of the country. These are grouped into four distinct regions where cotton textile manufacturing is highly concentrated. These regions are:
(i) Black Soil Cotton Zone.
(ii) Alluvial Soil Cotton Zone of Sutlej-Ganga Plain.
(iii) Light Black Soil Zone of Aravalies.
(v) Coastal Alluvial Soil Zone of Tamil Nadu, A.P, Kerala and Karnataka.
(i) Black Soil Cotton Zone.
This zone includes states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Maharashtra and Gujarat are outstanding producers of cotton textiles. These two states have 65% of India's total textile manufacturings.
The state of Maharashtra leads in respect of this industry. In fact, the industry was born in the state at Bombay (Mumbai) in 1851. Cotton textile manufacturing in the state of Maharashtra and particularly at Bombay (Mumbai) is attributed to a variety of factors. These are:
1. Availability of capital from the local Parsi people.
2. Port facilities.
3. Maharashtra grows short staple cotton, being used by the industry.
4. Humid climate of the region helps in spinning and weaving processes.
5. Abundance of cheap labour in the state as well as from adjoining states.
6. A network of efficient means of transportation.
7. In the state of Maharashtra particularly at Bombay (Mumbai), a number of chemical industries have come up which supply different types of chemicals required by the industry.
8. Bombay (Mumbai) is one of the most important textile marketing centres of the country.
9. Presence of financial institutions.
The most important textile centres of the state are :
Bombay (Mumbai), Pune, Nasik, Sholapur, Aurangabad, Akola, Satara, Sangli, Jalgaon and Nagpur.
The Gujarat state is the second important textile manufacturing state of the country. Here cotton textile industry has been developed in the centres like:
Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodra, Porbandar, Bharuch, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Kalol. Ahmedabad is the leading centre.
It is known as the "Boston of East; Cotton industry in Gujarat has responded to the availability of cotton, skilled labour, port facilities, market, means of transport and capital with the Gujaratis.
Karnataka is the third important state of black soil zone. In this state cotton is available in abundance.
Developed means of transportation, availability of labour and market are some of the contributory factors for the development of the industry. The most important manufacturing centres are :
Bangalore, Davanagere, Hubli, Mysore, Gulbarga, Gokak, Bellary, Belgaon and Chitradurga.
In the state of Andhra Pradesh, Industry has developed in the districts of Hyderabad, East Godavri, Guntur, Secundrabad, Vijaywada and Warangal.
(ii) Alluvial Soil Cotton Zone of the Sutlej-Ganga Plain.
This zone comprises of states of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. The most important factors which have worked for the development of cotton textile manufacturing's in these states are:
1. These states have rich fertile alluvial soils which are ideal for the cultivation of cotton as such plenty of raw materials is available in the zone.
2. This region has dense population; therefore, plenty of cheap labour is readily available to work in the mills.
3. On account of dense population in these states, a wide market for the textiles exists.
4. Means of transportation are highly developed on account of flat topography of these states.
5. Availability of thermal and hydro-electricity has played an important role in the development of cotton textile industry.
The most important textile centres in different states of this zone are as under:
Amritsar, Ludhiana, Phagwara and Hoshiarpur.
Hisar, Rohtak, Bhiwani, Panipat and Nilokheri.
Saharanpur, Meerut, Agra, Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad, Aligarh, Hathras, Gorakhpur and Varanasi. Kanpur has 14 mills and is known as Manchester of north India.
Bhagalpur, Gaya, Patna, Muzzafarpur, Champaran.
West Bengal .
Hoogly region (Kolkata, Howrah, Shyamnagar and Serampur) and 24 Parganas.
(iii) Light Black Soil Zone of Aravalies.
In this zone are included the eastern parts of Rajasthan and western parts of Madhya Pradesh. In this zone, there are a number of important textile centres. Textile manufacturings have come up on account of availability of cotton, labour, capital and market.
In Rajasthan, the most important centres are Udaipur, Bhilwara, Ajmer, Kota, Jaipur, Pilani and Ganganagar. In Madhya Pradesh, the industry has developed at Gwalior, Ratlam, Indore, Ujjain, Jabalpur and Bhopal.
(iv) Coastal Alluvial Soil Zone of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
Inthis zone, cotton textile industry is highly developed. The mills are located at Chennai, Salem, Madurai, Tirunveli, Tuticorin, Tanjuvr and Coimbatore.
The industry has come up on account of certain locational factors like availability of raw material, skilled labour, nearness to sea, efficient means of transportation and availability of hydro- electricity.
In the state of Kerala, cotton industries are at Alwaye, Cochin, Allepy and Quilon.
The Indian textile industry is mainly related to manufacturing of coarse cloth which is demanded in the country.
However super fine cloth is also made from the long staple cotton grown in the country or imported from Egypt, Sudan, Peru and the U.S.A. A variety of cotton fabrics are manufactured. Hosiery and manufacturing of readymade garments have become popular.
The cotton textile industry of India faces certain problems.
1. For die manufacturing of fine variety cloth, the industry depends upon imported cotton because the supply of home cotton is meagre.
2. A large number of mills are uneconomical and sick.
3. In most of the cases the machinery is old and obsolete.
4. The number of automatic looms is less, where as the number of ordinary looms is large. This results in poor production.
5. Inadequate facilities for transporting raw material to the mill sites.
6. Low production per worker.
7. Shortage of power.
8. Strikes and lockouts.
9. Lack of research and modernization.
10. Competition with Korea, Japan, Formosa and China.
11. Paucity of finances for renovation and replacement of old machinery.
12. Exorbitant excise duty
13. Synthetic cloth is becoming popular with the people.
Despite all these above mentioned problems being faced by the industry, it has a bright future because of growing market inside as well as outside the country.
India is the second largest exporter of cotton fabrics in the world. It is only surpassed by Japan. A large number of countries import cotton fabrics from India.
These are U.K., West Asia, African countries, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Nepal, CIS, South Africa, and Bangladesh etc. India exports coarse as well as fine cloth, readymade garments, hosiery goods and yarn.
Textile foreign exchange earnings have crossed Rs. 7000 crores. The government is doing its utmost to help and boost the industry by way of:
(i) A central advisory council was set up in 1983 for advising government on matters relating to problems, programmes and export promotion of cotton textile manufacturings.
(ii) Textile Modernization Fund was set up in 1986 for the purpose of providing finances for the modernization work of the industry.
(ii) National Textile Corporation Ltd. was formulated. NTC undertook modernizing mills under its charge.
(iv) Textile research centres were set up at number of places like Mumbai,
New Delhi, Vadodra and Coimbatore. Thus as a result of government efforts, efficient working, skilful management, it is hoped that the industry shall develop by leaps and bounds and occupy an important place in the world export market.