Q. 195.0( 4 Votes )
Describe the impa
The Great Depression was the most severe economic recession and the downturn in the industrialised world. The Great Depression began around 1929 in the U.S and spread quickly to other parts of the world. It lasted till the mid-1930s. During this period most parts of the world experienced a sudden decline in production, employment, incomes and trade activities.
The commencement and the impact of the depression varied across different nations; mostly it started around 1929 and lasted till 1939.
The depression affected the rural peasants and farmers more than the urban sector. Agricultural prices began to fall from 1926 and declined sharply after the 1930s. As the demand for agricultural goods fell in the domestic and international market, exports declined and there was a persistent glut of commodities. Though the agricultural prices fell sharply, the colonial government did not reduce their revenue collection. The peasants found it difficult to sell their harvests and pay their revenue. The jute producing peasants of West Bengal were the worst affected. Peasants who borrowed loans were worst hit by the lower prices. They borrowed again and again and fell into a debt trap.
Urban India was comparatively less affected by the depression. The fixed income earners and the middle class were much better-off during the periods because of the reduced prices for commodities. Industrial investment also grew and the government extended tariff protection to industries during this period.
During the depression period, India became an exporter of many precious metals, especially gold. The Indian gold exports to other parts of the world readily promoted the global economic recovery. But the economic conditions of the Indian peasants and other rural labourers were the same. To protest against this fluctuation in prices and the economic downfall, many movements were launched in rural India. This unrest finally culminated in the inauguration of the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1931.
The First World War was fought in Europe between 1914 and 1918. It was fought between two major powers of the time- the Allies comprising of Britain, France and the Central Powers comprising of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Ottoman Turkey. The First World War was the first war of its own kind.
India was the abode of many cottage industries and other small-scale industries from time immemorial. The British in India began exporting opium to China from the end of the 18th century. Many Indians started providing finance, supplies, shipping and other allied services related to this. There were many trading groups who were not directly involved in international trade and operated within India. They provided assistance in transporting goods, banking, transferring funds and financing traders.
The commencement of the war created a new situation and new possibilities. The European industries were restricted for the production of wartime commodities. With the British mills involved with the production of war goods, their imports into India declined. Thus, suddenly the Indian mills had an immense home market to supply goods. Thus the production and sales of Indian goods in the domestic market increased.
With the war continuing, the Indian factories and industries were required to supply war needs: jute bags, cloth for army uniforms, tents, leather boots, horse and mule saddles and many other items. New factories were set up and old ones ran multiple shifts. The employment increased and the existing workers were required to multiple shifts and sometimes, overtime. Over the war years, industrial production raised in the country.
But even after the war, Britain was not able to recapture its old place in the Indian market. The economy of Britain was disintegrating after the war. This reduced the production and export of their commodities to the colonies. Within the colonies, the local industrialists were gradually involved in consolidated their position by substituting foreign commodities with their local goods and gradually capturing the home market.
With rapid industrialisation, urbanisation and the development of cities were very common. But even as late as the 1850s, many decades after the industrial revolution, most Western countries were still rural economies. But with the beginning of the 19th century, cities began to develop drastically and millions of people migrated to cities in search of jobs, education and other amenities. Manchester and London began to develop during this time.
But, city development everywhere occurred at the cost of ecology and the environment. Natural features like mountains, plateaus, hills and peaks were flattened out or transformed to meet the growing demand of factories, housing and other requirements. Air and water pollution became common in the big cities as large quantities of waste products were discharged to the environment. Excessive noise became a feature of urban life and noise pollution was a major issue during the period. The extensive use of coal and other such natural resources in homes and factories caused many concerns. The discharge of the thick black smoke in industrial cities such as Leeds, Bradford and Manchester, polluted the ecology beyond repair. The extensive use of these resources also resulted in their sharp decline. Thick, black fog mostly descended in the growing cities and towns, causing many smoke-related illnesses.
Even in the midst of all these effects, the factory owners and the industrialists were not ready to reduce their emissions or to spend on more cleansing technologies that would improve their machines.
The situation in the colonies was also no less different. Calcutta also has a long history of air pollution. The city was built on marshy land. Thus the emission of smoke from the factories and households combined with fog to form thick black smog. Also, the dependence on conventional sources of energy like dung cakes and coal was also the cause of the high levels of pollution. With the introduction of the railway lines in 1855, the situation was further worsened. The Indian coal from Raniganj had a high content of ash. This resulted in further air pollution.
Thus, with the development and expansion of big cities and towns, the ecology and environment destruction was widespread. Even though the development of cities provided many opportunities, all these were obtained at the expense of the destruction of the environment. More sustained development must be focussed to be able to maintain the pace of industrial development in a more sustained way.
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