Cotton is India's most significant commercial crop. It is widely considered the King of Textile Fibers, making major contributions to the national economy. It provides sustainable livelihoods for millions of rural and urban populations.
The cotton textile industry is one of India's traditional industries. It was only a cottage industry throughout the ancient and mediaeval periods. India was famed across the globe for producing muslin, a particularly fine variant of cotton fabric, as well as calicos, chintz, and other beautiful cotton cloth varieties.
Several reasons contributed to the growth of this business in India
First and foremost, it is a tropical region, and cotton is the most suitable fabric for a hot and humid climate. Second, a variety of cotton was farmed in India. India has abundance of trained labour needed for this business. In fact, in some locations, people have been manufacturing cotton textiles for years, passing down the expertise from one generation to the next and perfecting their talents in the process.
The British initially discouraged the growth of the local cotton textile sector. British exported raw cotton to their mills in Manchester and Liverpool and then sent back finished goods to sell in India. This cloth was cheaper because it was produced at a mass scale in factories in the U.K. as compared to the cottage based industries of India. Rendering Indian textiles uncompetitive.
The first modern cotton mill was founded in Mumbai in 1854. As a cotton textile production centre, this city had various benefits. It was adjacent to cotton-growing districts in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Raw cotton was used to be carried to Mumbai port before being sent to England. Furthermore, Mumbai was an economic hub even back then, and the cash required to establish a business was readily available. As a huge town, giving employment opportunities attracted a significant number of people. As a result, inexpensive and plentiful labour was also available locally. The machinery needed for a cotton textile mill could be obtained readily.
The Swadeshi movement provided significant momentum to the industry by calling for a boycott of all British-made commodities in favour of Indian ones. After 1921, with the development of the railway network other cotton textile centres expanded rapidly.
Issues with Cotton Industries
Textile mills are facing an acute shortage of power. Coal supplies are scarce, and frequent blackouts and load shedding harm the business. This results in lost man-hours, reduced output, and mill losses.
Low labour productivity
Low labour productivity is another key issue in the cotton textile sector. If an American worker's productivity is assumed to be 100, the comparable value for the United Kingdom is 51, and India merely 13. In addition, the country's labour relations are not particularly favourable. Strikes, layoffs, and retrenchments are typical occurrences in numerous cotton mills throughout the nation.
International market rivalry
Indian cotton textiles face intense competition in foreign markets from Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan, whose goods are cheaper and of higher quality. It is quite perplexing that manufacturing expenses are so high in a place where salaries are cheap and cotton is abundant.
Cotton is a "pure" raw material that does not lose weight during manufacturing. As a result, other factors such as the power to drive the looms, labour, capital, or market may influence the location of the industry. As a result, the cotton textile industry may be found in practically every state in India where one or more of the locational criteria are favourable.
India is a densely populated nation in a hot tropical climate. As a result, the demand for cotton clothing will always be substantial. India's neighbouring nations do not thrive in the cotton textile sector. As a result, they import cotton from India. The employment of contemporary machinery and enhanced technology will aid in the production of higher-grade cotton fibre in a shorter period. This may eventually aid in lowering manufacturing costs and, as a result, the price of completed items.
Government can give greater push by providing export subsidies and allowing Indian cotton textiles to be competitive. As we can see, the main problem is that Indian textiles are pricey because they are handcrafted. Greater capital investment is required since it will enable us to manufacture in volume at a reduced cost. To give it a boost, India may add the component of soft power; it has a very rich legacy of prints that are already popular; this would offer Indian textiles an advantage.