‘The British Industrial policy in the 19th century ruined the Indian handicrafts’.

The British Industrial policy destroyed the handicrafts and the cottage Industries of India which were the primary sources of its foreign trade and wealth. It began in Bengal. Bengal was famous for cotton textiles and silk.

The servants of the company after assuming political influence in Bengal exploited the craftsmen in Bengal mercilessly. They gave them raw products on high prices and asked them to manufacture a fixed quantity and quality of goods and paid them arbitrarily so that handicraft profession no more remained profitable.

Therefore, thousands of craftsmen left their ancestral profession. Gradually, the exploitation of India in trade increased. In 1813, East India Company’s monopoly of trade with India was abolished. All trading companies of Britain therefore were left free to trade with India.


The British also pursued the policy of protective tariffs in Britain as well as in India much against the trading interests of India. While in Britain, heavy duties were charged on Indian goods entering Britain, the English goods entering India were charged only nominal duties.

The trade discrimination went on increasing till the Indians failed in competing with the machine-made goods of England. When Industrial Revolution took place in England, Britain needed raw materials from India and a wide market for its machine-made goods in India.

Therefore, in 1833, Indian government virtually accepted the policy of free trade with a view to provide cheap raw materials to Britain and cheap manufactured goods in the Indian market. Thus the policies of the government, on the one hand, handicapped Indian trade and thereby its manufactures on the other hand provided good market to manufactures in India. The construction of the railways in India further helped this process. The British goods reached even the rural markets of India.

It all resulted in the destruction of the Indian handicrafts which were the basis of its foreign trade and thereby its prosperity.