Jute – Historical Background of one of the oldest Industries
For centuries, jute has been an integral part of Bengali, which is shared by both Bangladesh and West Bengal of India. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, much of raw jute fibre of Bengal were exported to the United Kingdom, where it was then processed in mills concentrated in Dundee (“jute weaver” was a recognized trade occupation in the 1901 UK census), but this trade had largely ceased about by about 1970 due to the entrance of synthetic fibres.
Here we will try to take a brief view of the background of this industry, how it all started, how it capitalized the then market, what factors helped them in their quest, etc.
Jute Industry played an important role in the economic development of Bengal. At the beginning of the 20th century, Bengal could boast of only one manufacturing industry – JUTE. It employed about a half of the total industrial workforce of Bengal.
In 1900-01, the export value of jute manufacturers accounted for nearly a third of the entire export trade of Bengal. The industry was dominated by the Europeans at the beginning and later on by the Marwaris. During most of its history, 3/4th of the labourers in the jute factories were non-Bengalis. Bengalis generally occupied only the intermediate position in the Industry. The raw jute for the industry used to come from Eastern Bengal.
Prior to the establishment of the first jute mill in 1855, handloom weavers used jute fibre to make twines, ropes, coarse fabrics for the poor, and also for fishing and for mooring vessels. Towards the end of the 18th century, jute attracted the attention of the British East India Company which sent a consignment of jute samples to England in 1791 that were successfully spun by flax machinery. The British also found out means to soften the hard and brittle nature of jute fibre by adding whale oil and water. This made the fibre more pliable and easily separable, and resulted in the...
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