NCERT Solutions for Class 8 Social Science Our Pasts Chapter 7 : Weavers, Iron Smelters and Factory Owners


Who are the Agaria?


The Agarias were a community of iron smelters. They lived in Central India.


Fill in the blanks: (a) The word chintz comes from the word _______. (b) Tipu’s sword was made of _______ steel. (c) India’s textile exports declined in _______________century.


(a) chhint

(b) Wootz

(c) the beginning of the 19th


What is bandanna?


The term bandanna is derived from the word “bandhna” (Hindi for tying), and it refers to a variety of brightly coloured cloth produced through a method of tying and dying.


What is jamdani ?


Jamdani is fine muslin on which decorative motifs are woven on the loom, typically in grey and white. Often a mixture of cotton and gold thread was used.


What helped TISCO expand steel production during the First World War?


(i)      The Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO) began producing steel in 1912.

(ii)     Till 1914, the British used to import its steel into India.

(iii)    When the First World War broke out in the same year, steel produced in Britain now had to meet the demands of war in Europe and its imports into India declined severely.

(iv)    The Indian Railways turned to TISCO for supply of rails.

(v)     As the war dragged on several years, TISCO produced shells and carriage wheels for the war.

(vi)    By 1919, the colonial government was buying 90 per cent of the steel manufactured by TISCO.

(vii)   All these factors helped TISCO expand steel production during the First World War.


What problems did the Indian textile industry face in the early years of its development?


The Indian textile industry faced many problems in the early years of its development.

(i)      The Indian textile industry could not compete with the cheap textiles imported from Britain.

(ii)     In most countries, governments supported industrialisation by imposing heavy duties on imports.

(iii)    This eliminated competition and protected emerging industries.

(iv)    The British government in India usually refused such protection to local textile industries.

(v)     The first major development of cotton factory production in India happened during the First World War when textile imports from Britain declined, and Indian factories were called

         upon to produce cloth for military supplies.


Why did the Indian iron smelting industry decline in the nineteenth century?


(i)      By the late nineteenth century, the craft of iron smelting was in decline. In most villages, furnaces fell into disuse and the amount of iron produced came down.

(ii)     One reason for the decline was the new forest laws enacted by the colonial government prevented people from entering the reserved forests.

(iii)    The iron smelters could not collect wood for charcoal and iron ore from the forests.

(iv)    However, they often entered the forests secretly and collected wood, but they could not sustain their occupation on this basis for long.

(v)     Many gave up their craft and looked for other means of livelihood.

(vi)    In some areas the government granted access to the forest. But the iron smelters had to pay a very high tax to the forest department for every furnace they used.

(vii)   This reduced their income. Moreover, by the late nineteenth century, iron and steel was being imported from Britain.

(viii)  Indian Ironsmiths began using the imported iron to manufacture utensils and implements. This inevitably lowered the demand for iron produced by local smelters.


How did the development of cotton industries in Britain affect textile producers in India?


The development of cotton industries in Britain affected textile producers in India in several ways.

(i)       First: Indian textiles now had to compete with British textiles in the European and American markets.

(ii)      Second: exporting textiles to England also became difficult since very high duties were imposed on Indian textiles imported into Britain.

(iii)     By the beginning of the nineteenth century, English-made cotton textiles successfully ousted Indian goods from their traditional markets in Africa, America and Europe.

(iv)     Thousands of weavers in India lost their livelihoods; Bengal weavers were the worst hit.

(v)      English and European companies stopped buying Indian goods, and their agents stopped giving advances to weavers to secure supplies.

(vi)     Distressed weavers appealed to the government to help them. By the 1830s, British cotton cloth flooded Indian markets.

(vii)    By the 1880s, two-thirds of all the cotton clothes worn by Indians were made of cloth produced in Britain.

(viii)   This affected not only specialist weavers but also spinners and rural women who made a living by spinning cotton thread.


Why did the wool and silk producers in England protest against the import of Indian textiles in the early eighteenth century?


(i) By the early eighteenth century, wool and silk makers in England were worried by the popularity of Indian textiles and protested against the import of Indian cotton textiles.

(ii) In 1720, the British government enacted a legislation banning the use of printed cotton textiles – chintz – in England; this Act was known as the Calico Act.

(iii) At this time textile industries had just begun to develop in England.

(iv) Unable to compete with Indian textiles, English producers tried to secure market within their country by preventing the entry of Indian textiles.


How do the names of different textiles tell us about their histories?


(i) European traders first encountered fine cotton cloth from India carried by Arab merchants in Mosul in present-day Iraq.  So they referred to all finely woven textiles as “muslin” – a word that    acquired wide currency.

(ii) When the Portuguese first came to India in search of spices, they landed in Calicut on the Kerala coast in south-west India.

(iii) The cotton textiles which they took back to Europe, along with the spices, came to be called “calico” (derived from Calicut), and subsequently calico became the general name for all cotton textiles.

(iv) The English East India Company exported from India printed cotton cloths called chintz, cossaes (or khassa) and bandanna.

(v) The English term chintz comes from the Hindi word chhint, a cloth with small and colourful flowery designs.

(vi) Similarly, the word bandanna used for any brightly coloured and printed scarf for the neck or head is derived from the word “bandhna” (Hindi for tying).

(vii) There were other cloths which the Company exported from India, were noted by their place of origin: Kasimbazar, Patna, Calcutta, Orissa, Charpoore.

(viii) The widespread use of such words shows how popular Indian textiles had become in different parts of the world.


What kinds of cloth had a large market in Europe?


(i)     Indian cotton and silk textiles were very popular in European markets for their fine quality and artistic designs printed on them.

(ii)    Different varieties of Indian textiles were sold in the Western markets; for example, chintz, cossaes or khassa, bandanna and jamdani.

(iii)   From the 1680s, there started a craze for printed Indian cotton textiles in England mainly for their exquisite floral designs, fine texture and relative cheapness.

(iv)   Rich people of England including the Queen herself wore clothes of Indian fabric.

Start Your
7-Days Free Trial
and experience it yourself
Start Trial
Play StoreApp Store
Flying Girl
A subscription
that’s worth your
Get the best classroom experience on
India’s leading learning platform

in touch

Have a query about our services?
Get in touch with us and we will
guide you through a new world of
redefined learning