Rapid Expansion of India’s Foreign Trade: One consequence of the
operation of the British economic activities such as construction of roads
and railways, abolition of internal tolls, introduction of a uniform currency
-- Rupee, abolition of all import and export duties and adoption of the
principle of free trade, was rapid expansion in India’s external trade. Thus,
during the five-year period of 1864-69 average annual value of India’s
imports and exports amounted to Rs. 87.5 crores. By 1913-14 this figure
rose to Rs. 427 crores.
Changes in Composition of India’s Exports and Imports: The second
consequence was the change in the composition of India’s exports and
imports. India’s exports now mainly consisted of industrial raw materials
like raw cotton and jute, minerals, raw materials and agricultural produce
like tea, coffee, food grains etc. On the other hand, imports from England
into India consisted thereafter mostly of manufactured goods made in the
factories of England.
Decline of Urban Handicrafts: The consequence of these changes in the
composition of India’s exports and imports, was rapid decline in the
demand for products of various urban handicrafts which at one time were
so famous and in a flourishing condition. Formerly, Indian weavers, metal
fabricators and various other craftsmen in urban areas used to produce
goods for both domestic and foreign markets. Now these urban handicrafts
in India were unable to successfully face the challenge posed by free
imports into India of cheap manufactured goods produced on a large-scale
in factories in England. Also, people engaged in urban handicrafts in India
were illiterate, conservative and under the influence of caste and other
conventions. The result was that they were not in a position to organize
themselves to successfully meet the challenge posed by English
manufacturers by introducing modem methods of production. The
Government of India which was an alien government interested in
safeguarding the interests of their motherland also did nothing to render
any help to these unfortunate handicraftsmen. This resulted in the decline
of urban handicrafts in India.