India is one of the leading producers of textile goods in the world. It is one of the largest sectors in the economy in terms of output, skilled & unskilled employment, and foreign exchange earnings in India. Textile Industry includes cotton, silk, jute, wool, and synthetic fiber textiles. Cotton is the most important commodity in India, even traded in Ancient times to Modern India. At present, India is the world’s largest cotton-producing country.
The history of the cotton industry and the origin of its use in India have been traced back to Industry Valley Civilization. India enjoyed a monopoly in the production of cotton textiles from 1500 BC to 1500 AD. During the middle age, Indian cotton textile products were in great demand all over the world. The arrival of colonial rule in India led to the downfall of Indian manufacturing. The Britishers encouraged the exports of the raw material from India to Britain and the import of manufactured products from Britain to India.
In 1818, the first cotton textile mill started in India at Fort Gloster near Calcutta. However, this mill did not survive and had been closed down. The first successful modern cotton textile mill was established in 1854 in Mumbai by C. N. Dewar. The other landmarks in the development of the cotton textile industry in India were the establishment of the Shahpur mill in 1861 and the Calico mill in 1863 at Ahmedabad (Gujarat).
The fast growth of cotton textiles took place in the 1870s when there was much demand for Indian goods during the American civil war. Even before the First World War, the tool number of Indian textile mills rose to 271, employing about 2.6 lakh persons. The increased demand for cloth during the Second World war further led to the development of the cotton textile industry in India. In 1945, the number of mills reached 417. However, the industry suffered a setback in 1947 when some good quality cotton-growing areas went to Pakistan.
Distribution of Cotton Textile Industry in India
India has the largest land area under the cultivation of cotton in the world. Most cotton textile mills in India are set up in the cotton-growing areas, as cotton is being used as pure raw material in the textile industry. The location of the cotton textile mill is mainly affected by several factors, such as raw material, capital, moist weather, skilled & cheap labor, proximity to market, transport, seaport, and export facilities to domestic and international markets.
The States of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Rajasthan, and Punjab are the major cotton producers having a number of cotton textile mills, especially in three cities of Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Coimbatore. Gujarat is the largest cotton-producing state, followed by Maharashtra and Telangana. But, Maharashtra has the largest area under cotton cultivation, followed by Gujarat.
Due to annual rainfall and black soil, Gujarat is the profitable region for the production of cotton. It covers about 26.95 lakh hectares for cotton production and produces about 95 lakh bales of cotton in India. Ahmedabad, also called Manchester of India, is the second-largest cotton-producing center after Mumbai in the country. The other important cotton-producing centers of Gujarat are Surat, Bharuch, Bhavnagar, Vadodara, Khambat, Porbander, Rajkot, Nadiad, Kalol, and Viramgam.
Maharashtra is one of the leading producers of cotton goods in India. It covers about 42.54 lakh hectares for producing cotton and produced 82 lakh bales of cotton. Mumbai is also called the Cottonopolis of India because of having a high concentration of cotton mills and is the largest cotton-producing center in the country. It has a mild climate with enough moisture in the air for good quality cotton production.
Availability of skilled cheap labor, cheap electricity, connectivity to the market, seaports are important factors in the progress of the cotton textile industry in Maharashtra. Sholapur, Pune, Kolhapur, Jalgoan, Nagpur, Akola, Miraj, Wardha, and Amravati are other important cotton-producing regions of Maharashtra.
Telangana is another major cotton-producing state in India, covering 18.27 lakh hectares for cotton production. It produces about 53 lakh bales of cotton. The important cotton-producing regions of Telangana are Guntur, Prakasam, Anantapur, and Kurnool.
Tamil Nadu has the largest number of cotton textile mills in the country. Coimbatore, also known as Manchester of South India, has more than 200 small & big cotton mills and factories. The important cotton textile centers in the State are Chennai, Salem, Madurai, Perambur, Tiruchirappalli, and Tuticorin.
Most of the cotton textile industry in Uttar Pradesh has developed in the western part of UP. Kanpur is the important cotton textile producing center of Uttar Pradesh. Cotton textile industries are also located in Lucknow, Mirzapur, Agra, Bareilly, Modinagar, Moradabad, Saharanpur, and Varanasi.
The major cotton-producing centers of Rajasthan are Kota, Jaipur, Bhilwara, Ajmer, Ganganagar, Kishangarh, and Udaipur.
Bangalore, Belgaum, Chitradurga, Mangalore, Gulbarga, and Mysore are the important cotton textile centers in Karnataka.
Kolkata is the important cotton textile center of West Bengal. Cotton goods are also produced in Howrah, Serampore, Murshidabad, Hugli, and Panihar.
Indore, Gwalior, Bhopal, Dewas, Jabalpur, Mandasaur, and Ratlam are the major cotton textile centers of Madhya Pradesh.
Punjab and Haryana
The important textile centers of Punjab are Amritsar, Ludhiana, Phagwara, while that of Haryana are Bhiwani, Hisar, Rohtak.
Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram, Alleppey, and Trichur are cotton-textile centers of Kerala.
Problems of Cotton Textile Industry
Although the cotton textile industry is one of the most important industries in India, it suffers various problems, which are as follow:
- There is a shortage of raw materials, especially of good quality, required to meet the increasing demand of the textile industry. The fluctuating prices and uncertainties in the availability of raw materials are other problems that lead to low production.
- As the long-staple cotton requirements of cotton textile industries are met by importing it from Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Peru, Tanzania, and the USA, the high rate of duty on the imported cotton is another problem from which the cotton textile suffers. The heavy excise duties on cotton imports have increased the cost of production of cloths, creating further problems in selling these cloths in the international market.
- Sometimes, the frequent strikes by the workers lead to the occasional lockout of the mills by the owner, which further decreases the production of cotton goods.
- Most of the cotton textile mills in India are working with obsolete/outdated machinery, which cannot compete with the latest machinery of countries like China, South Korea, and the USA.
- As the poor people in the country mostly prefer to use synthetic fiber clothes, which are more durable, the completion of cotton with the synthetic fiber creates a problem for the cotton textile industry. Indian cotton textile mills are also facing stiff competition in foreign markets.