Bengal has manufactured textiles for many centuries. Ancient history mentions Arab, Greek and even European merchants trading between India and the Red Sea port of Aduli. Bengal was conquered by the British East India Company after the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and the British Bengal Presidency was founded in 1765. British colonization forced open the Bengali market to British goods, while at the same time Britain implemented protectionist policies such as bans and high tariffs that restricted Bengali imports to Britain. British colonization was also followed by the Great Bengal famine of 1770, which killed a third of the Bengali population. From 1787 to 1788, Dhaka suffered from severe natural calamities - especially heavy rainfall - and famine broke out. After the disaster, more emphasis was given on agriculture to reduce the effects of the famine. Tax was revoked on the exportation of grains. So, people became more interested in agricultural works than weaving as the wages of labourers and other people working in agriculture suddenly rose.
From 1782 to 1787 the Industrial Revolution began in Britain, and fine cotton was produced locally. During British colonial rule, the muslin industry declined due to various colonial policies, which supported imports of industrially manufactured textiles from Britain. A heavy duty of 75 percent was imposed on export of cotton from Bengal. These measures ultimately led to the decline of muslin trade in Bengal. In 1811, Bengal was still a major exporter of cotton cloth to the Americas and the Indian Ocean. However, Bengali exports declined over the course of the early 19th century, as British imports to Bengal increased, from 25% in 1811 to 93% in 1840. Muslin sarees were woven in Bangladesh by a group of researchers under a government grant project in 2020. The researchers hope to launch the muslin saree in the free market. As of 9th March 2022 the thread count has reached 731.
[ Thread count is often used as a measure of fabric quality, so that "standard" cotton thread counts are around 150 while "good-quality" sheets start at 180 and a count of 200 or higher is considered "percale". To note that common high standard fine textiles have 400 TPI. ]
The textile industry plays an important role in the economy of Kolkata , the capital city of West Bengal, India . The industry also contributes greatly to the city's industrial production, exports, and employment. Among the various textile industries of the city, the jute industry has helped Calcutta to become dominant in industrialization. According to data published in 2006, the main features of the Kolkata textile industry are: -Based in Kolkata , 33% of textile companies manufacture and sell branded products. -Between 2007 and 2008, Kolkata's textile industry grew at an average rate of 26 percent. With at least two manufacturing facilities, they managed 23 percent of the city's textile industry. Thirty percent of Kolkata's total textile industry dates back to the 1990's. Only 18 percent were established after 2000. Eighty-five percent of these textile companies are associated with export services. About 40 per cent of them have earned a lion's share of the total revenue from these export services. The main reason behind the growth of the textile industry in Kolkata is that the cost of conducting business in Kolkata is lower than other metropolitan cities in India. Apart from these, the city's textile industry has flourished due to its immense natural resources and favorable climate. The main products of the Kolkata textile industry are the weaving and cottage industries which mainly make up the Calcutta textile industry. One of the major products of this textile industry is jute-textile, due to which the state is rich in jute production. Other textile industries in Kolkata include cotton and silk products.
Kolkata Weaving Industry - Like other handicrafts, the Kolkata Weaving Department has made a huge contribution to the development of the city's industries. The jute industry of Kolkata - known as 'Golden Fiber' - is the cheapest fiber available here. It is used in the manufacture of various jute products such as sacks, bags, purses, bottle bags, ornaments, floor carpets, high quality gifts and accessories which occupy a huge part of the textile industry. Some of the famous jute industries located in Kolkata are: Indian Jute Industries Research Association, Ananda Jute Industries, Dunlop Jute House, SKG Jute Industries. Kolkata Cotton Industry - Cotton industry, in addition to its contribution to the textile industry of Kolkata, continues to play an important role in the recruitment of skilled workers in the city. Many people are still engaged in the cotton business. The cotton market in Kolkata offers a variety of popular cotton products, such as clothes, yarn, cloth and apparel. Kolkata Silk Industry - The silk industry, due to its growing demand, has developed into an emerging industry in Kolkata. There are two famous silk industries located in this town :
1. Eastern Silk Industries Limited 2. Safia Silk Industries.
West Bengal has set a target to double the state's textile industry to ₹70,000 crore over a period of three to five years. The state has also decided to set up a task force to implement the target, West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) chairman Rajiva Sinha said. The state has also received a proposal for a ₹550-crore poly-fibre manufacturing unit in Haldia.
State finance minister Amit Mitra told an interactive session that the potential of export from West Bengal is far more than what has been is tapped. Textile export from the state is around 2.7 per cent of the total export from the country, he said. In the next three to five years, it should go up to 10 per cent, he hoped. The readymade garments sector in Kolkata's Metiabruz itself is worth ₹15,000 crore, and has the potential of growing up to ₹25,000 crore in the next few years, he said. The minister emphasised on hosiery export to Europe, South East Asia and the United States. The work for the Nungi textile hub near Kolkata has already started and it will attract an investment of ₹440 crore, he said. The first spinning mill in Howrah would come up at Jagdishpur, he added.
In order to develop handloom sector in the state of West Bengal, the following activities have been undertaken under various schemes of this office in the last three years and the current year (as on 30-9-2019):
As per 4th All India Handloom Census (2019-20), there are 283404 handlooms and 366656 handloom weavers in the State.
One Mega Handloom Cluster has been sanctioned for Murshidabad district of the State. Project cost of Rs. 72.26 crore has been approved by PAMC, of which Government of India Share is Rs. 61.12 crore. A sum of Rs. 23.26 crore has been released under the project.
25 Block Level clusters have been sanctioned and a sum of Rs. 9.02 crore has been released covering 26793 beneficiaries.
5 Marketing events have been sanctioned and a sum of Rs. 34.00 lakh has been released.
Concessional loan worth Rs. 5.20 crore have been sanctioned to 1080 beneficiaries.
97696 beneficiaries have been enrolled under Mahatma Gandhi Bunkar Bima Yojana (MGBBY)/converged MGBBY and Pradhan Mantri Jivan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY)/Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY).
49 Yarn Depots and 3 Warehouses are functional in the State for supply of yarn at subsidized rates.
37.10 lakh kg of yarn worth Rs. 111.52 crore has been supplied to the handloom weavers of West Bengal at mill gate price and 33.22 lakh kg of yarn worth Rs. 104.73 crore has been supplied under 10% subsidy scheme of Yarn Supply Scheme (YSS).
In order to prevent production of handloom reserved items on power looms, enforcement machinery is operational in the State. Rs. 57.08 lakh has been released for the machinery. Power loom inspections are carried out by the enforcement machinery.
The Government generally does not set up / establish new textile units in the country. The role of the Government is to ensure a conducive policy environment, facilitating in creating enabling conditions for the industry and private entrepreneurs to set up units through policy initiatives and various schemes implemented viz. the Amended Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (A-TUFS), Schemes for the development of the Powerloom Sector(Power-Tex), Schemes for Technical Textiles, Scheme for Integrated Textile Parks (SITP), Scheme for Additional Grant for Apparel Manufacturing Units under SITP (SAGAM), SAMARTH- The Scheme for Capacity Building in Textile Sector (SCBTS), Jute (ICARE- Improved Cultivation and Advanced Retting Exercise), National Handloom Development Programme, National Handicrafts Development Programme, Integrated Processing Development Scheme (IPDS), Silk Samagra, Integrated Wool Development Programme (IWDP) and North East Region Textiles Promotion Scheme (NERTPS), Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (ROSCTL).
The issue of re-opening of closed mills is a subject being handled by the respective State Governments. However, to protect and revive the jute industries, Government of India has decided to continue Jute Packaging Material (Compulsory Use in Packing Commodities) Act, 1987 keeping in view the interest of raw jute growers and workers involved in the jute industry. This Act has provided uninterrupted market for jute bags. In every month, different state government agencies purchase jute bags for packing food grains for distribution through PDS. On an average, a total quantity of 26 to 28 lakh bales of jute bags is purchased in a year. This purchase has taken care of almost 93% of the sacking capacity of the industry. Government of India, have issued an Order dated 30-11-2018 under the Jute Packaging Materials (Compulsory Use in Packing Commodities) Act, 1987 stipulating 100% food grains and 20% sugar are required to be compulsorily packed in jute packaging material. The reservation to food grains was increased to 100% from 30-11-2018 that was 90% in the preceding years, manifesting in increased patronage of the Government of India.
Source : Status of Textile Sector in West Bengal
Time of India
Author and photographer : Sayanava Saha Biswas
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