Revenge for Colonialism

The Guardian has “an article”: on outsourcing which it thinks is the reversal of colonialism
bq. Britain’s industrialisation was secured by destroying the manufacturing capacity of India. In 1699, the British government banned the import of woollen cloth from Ireland, and in 1700 the import of cotton cloth (or calico) from India. Both products were forbidden because they were superior to our own. As the industrial revolution was built on the textiles industry, we could not have achieved our global economic dominance if we had let them in. Throughout the late 18th and 19th centuries, India was forced to supply raw materials to Britain’s manufacturers, but forbidden to produce competing finished products. We are rich because the Indians are poor.
bq. Now the jobs we stole 200 years ago are returning to India.

5 thoughts on “Revenge for Colonialism

  1. Sorry, no I don’t agree with this view.
    1) Indian textiles were *better*, but British textiles won out because they were *cheaper*, being machine-made and enjoying economies of scale. (Because they were cheaper, a lot more poor people, including a lot more poor Indians could afford better clothes. You don’t hear economists talking of this aspect)
    2) It is far-fetched to assume that Indian weavers could make the transition from handloom to large scale mills, given that the infrastructure was simply not available in India.
    3) Eventually India did develop a thriving textile industry around the end of the 19th century – the textile mills were set up by traders who earlier used to import finished goods from England. They built up capital from trading, and they figured out that it would be cheaper to produce stuff right in India rather than send cotton to England and import finished goods here. Free Trade indeed works in mysterious ways.
    So we got our chance to “retaliate” long ago.
    4) It was our own government that destroyed the Bombay textile industry in the 80s, with its restrictive labour policies, capacity restrictions, “incentives” to small scale industries, etc. (Thankfully, most of the industry shifted to places like TN and Gujarat rather than out of India)
    Just some of the things our historians did not tell us. 🙂

  2. true, jobs are returning to India. but think about the kind of jobs that are coming to us…. is the call-centre type of job even worth considering ?
    I had written about ‘lovely and lousy jobs’ long ago, based on a study by the LSE on ht epolarisation of jobs in the UK….. even in our country, while the number of well-paid jobs is increasing, what about “quality” of the job ?

  3. Charu,
    There are lot of people in India with varied skill sets. So if Call Centers provide jobs to them, why not have them.
    “Quality” of a job is a relative term.

  4. sure, but what exactly is the skill set required for a call centre job ? can such jobs be the basis for saying ‘jobs are returning to India’?

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