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'The Indian mines maternity benefit question, 1919-1947' in The Indian Economic & Social History Review 09/1985; 22(3):329-351

Indian Economic & Social History Review 09/1985; 22(3):329-351.
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    ABSTRACT: The present work examines the industrial experience of Bengal during the period 1900 to 1939 with particular emphasis on the role of the government as the main instrument for growth. For this work, available statistical material has been utilized for the sake of precision as well as to strengthen the qualitative evidence. The book contains eight chapters. While Chapter I builds up the case for industrial development, Chapter II examines in detail the industrial policy of the Bengal government in the light of its own limitations as a subordinate authority to the Government of India and that of Whitehall. Chapter III is an investigation of the labour market in Bengal with emphasis on the supply of labour to jute, tea and coal industries in relation to wages and conditions of work. In Chapter IV, I have examined the rates of profitability and security of industrial investments. In this chapter, I have also examined the financial institutions of the time and their role in the industrial development of the province. Chapter V points to some of the difficulties experienced by Indian entrepreneurs, and in the above light looks at their contribution to the larger industrial establishments of Bengal. The next two Chapters VI and VII examine the growth and development of the two biggest manufacturing industries of our period--jute and handloom cotton weaving industries. The concluding chapter is an estimate of the industrial progress made in the province during the period under review. This book is a slightly revised version of my Ph.D. thesis submitted to the University of London in 1978. In the preparation of this thesis, I have accumulated an enormous debt of gratitude to my Supervisor, Dr. K. N. Chaudhuri whose careful vigilance and timely intervention saved me from many factual errors and infelicities of style. My thanks are also due to Mr. I. B. Harrison, who went through some of my preliminary chapters during the absence of Dr Chaudhuri in 1975-76 and made many useful observations. I am also indebted to Dr. Sirajul Islam of Dacca University for helping me with some necessary corrections. Here I take this opportunity also to express my deep gratitude to the UK Commonwealth Commission which offered me a scholarship for three years which enabled me to undertake this research work. Needless to say, without their financial help it would have been virtually impossible to pursue this course of studies. I also wish to thank the University of Dacca for granting me the necessary study leave. There remains also a special group of people - without whose co-operation, patience and tolerance, this work would not have seen the light of day. In this group belong the library staff of the British Library (including the Newspaper Section at Colindale), Senate House Library, the library of the School of Oriental and African Studies, and particularly, the India Office Library and Records (including their Newspaper Section at the Bush House). I take this opportunity to thank Mr. J. Sims of the India Office Library and Records for being so helpful in tracking down apparently untraceable official documents. I wish to thank the staff of the Bangladesh Secretariat Record Room and of the Secretariat Library, Dacca for extending me all possible facilities in carrying out my research work. Finally, I owe a special debt of gratitude to my wife, Lilly whose support and constant encouragement over these years was invaluable in completing this work. A.Z.M.I.A. CONTENTS: List of Tables Abbreviations Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: The Industrial Policy of the Government of Bengal Chapter 3: Supply of Labour to Bengal Industries Chapter 4: Problems of Profitability and Capital Supply Chapter 5: Supply of Industrial Entrepreneurship in Bengal Chapter 6: The Growth of the Jute Manufacturing Industry Chapter 7: The Handloom Cotton Weaving Industry in Bengal Chapter 8: Perspectives Appendixes Bibliography Index Chart Showing Staff of Department of Industries, Bengal Map Showing the Location of Jute Mills in Bengal BOOK REVIEW: The following book review by Prof. Sugata Bose (who is presently the Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs at Harvard University) was published in The Journal of Asian Studies / Volume 45 / Issue 05 / November 1986, pp 1098-1099 "Despite the burgeoning literature on the agrarian history of Bengal and on problems of Indian industrialization in general, the history of industry in early twentieth century Bengal has not received the definitive treatment it deserves. The purpose of Iftikhar-ul-Awwal's monograph is to fill this important lacuna. It attempts to do so through a largely quantitative study of the major manufacturing industries with particular attention to government policies and to the supply of labor, capital as well as industrial entrepreneurship. Two chapters are devoted to case studies of the jute manufacturing industry and the handloom cotton-weaving industry. The author concludes that although statistics on the shifting distribution of labor, consumption of power, and trends in aggregate paid-up capital indicate "some progress," "industrial development could hardly be said to be adequate." Although there were various reasons for "this slow and unsteady growth of industries in Bengal," "the most important factor was the lack of state patronage in this direction" (pp. 234-35). Until the end of World War I the colonial state did nothing to aid Indian industrial development and did much to obstruct it. The setting up of a Department of Industries by the Government of Bengal in 1920 in accordance with the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms coincided with the Meston Award that enabled the central government to tighten its financial reins on the local governments. Under its terms most of the revenues raised in the province were siphoned away by the center. The Mestonwhip hurt Bengal most: the export duty on jute was earmarked for the center (a share was given to Bengal in the 1930s) whereas the proceeds from wheat, cotton, and sugar went to the producing provinces. Bengal's land revenue was, of course, permanently settled, and the province was not permitted to tax industry. Given such severe financial constraints, it was not surprising that the Industries Department "became a lame duck" (p. 60), having to confine itself to tinkering with small and cottage industries. Even within this limited field the provincial government did not have the resources to tackle the problems of marketing and finance faced by rural artisans. The expansion of demand spurred by the nationalist movement explains the partial recovery of these industries. The imperatives of the colonial state and the financial disabilities of the provincial government remain only as shadowy backdrops in the more technical and narrowly conceived chapters on the supply of labor, capital, and entrepreneurship. The supply of labor is seen to be determined primarily by wage differentials and the supply of capital, especially to new industries, limited by the imperfect nature of financial institutions. The discussion of labor ignores much of the recent work on the social history of the working class and is probably the least satisfying aspect of the book. Indian entrepreneurs are found to be lacking not in the spirit of enterprise, but in technical and commercial education. Despite a tendency in the substantive chapters to lose sight of the colonial context and a somewhat blinkered perspective on labor, this book is welcome as a carefully researched, informative addition to the literature. It is particularly illuminating on the problems faced by a provincial government starved of financial resources in promoting industrial development, a topic not without contemporary relevance."
    1st Edition 12/1982; Vikas Publishing House: New Delhi., ISBN: 0706915798

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