ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Relations of Production in Handloom Weaving in the Mid-1930s

Weaving in the Mid-1930s Tirthankar Roy Descriptions of the handloom industry in the thirties contain the suggestion that rather than a passive decay, competition with machine-made cloth induced adaptations, The main components of this process were, diversification into higher valued products and differentiation of weavers, leading to more complex forms of work organisation. The rapid growth of handloom factories and small-scale powerlooms bears witness to this. The paper attempts a survey of the second of these components, relational changes. The process in its most general form involved reduction of 'independent' weavers to 'dependence', that is, a progressive erosion of the right of possession over the final product. Two basic forms of dependence can be distinguished: contract for sale products tied to a particular merchant and contract for sale of labour. At the other end, there emerged a group of large producers, usually with interests in cloth trade. Pure commercial capital was thus becoming differentiated and weaker as a class. Regional differences in the strength and direction of the basic movement were considerable. The industry in the south, including Bombay-Deccan and Hyderabad, proved more progressive with greater stratification among producers while in the east and the north, merchants remained entrenched, collaborating or competing with large producers. The paper locates the preconditions for this divergence in the antecedent structures of handloom weaving in these regions.

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