[Location Factors] Wool Industry, Jute Industry: rise & fall of Britain, Calcutta Jute problems

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UPSC Paperset
  1. Wool Industry & Geographical Factors
    1. Climate factor
    2. Land size
    3. Economies of Scale
    4. Woolen Mfg: Rise and Decline of Britain
    5. India: Wool business
  2. Jute Industry
  3. Mock Questions

Wool Industry & Geographical factors

Let’s examine videsi (foreign) wool business first. Majority of wool production comes from southern hemisphere: Australia, NZ, Argentina and South Africa. So, first question, why does Southern Hemisphere lead in Wool production?
Climate factor

  • Damper, cooler condition in the temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere=not so good for wool production.
  • Dry warmer climates of Southern hemisphere= provide better conditions for wool production. e.g. Interior Australia, South Africa and the rain shadow area of Pantagonia in Argentina

Land size

  • Australia, dry continent= large-scale agriculture is not possible anyways.
  • sheep can survive in bad climatic conditions
  • Therefore, sheep rearing provides the best economic use of the land for the farmers.

Economies of Scale

  • Economies of scale = if you do something on large scale, then unit cost of production will decrease.
  • In Australia, Sheep rearing is done on a large scale = economies of scale = lower cost of production.
  • This enables wool producers from southern hemisphere to compete with Indian, European or North American producers despite the added cost of transporting wool from South to North hemisphere.

So far so good: Australia leads in wool production. But Australia doesn’t lead in finished woolen textiles (e.g. sweaters, mufflers, coats, socks etc.) why?

  1. For woolen textile, the Customers/target audience= colder northern countries. Australia’s own local market is small.
  2. Woolen textile business require skilled workers. In Australia, low-population =wage rates higher.

Therefore, Australia leads in wool production but not in textile.

Woolen Mfg: Rise and Decline of Britain

During Industrial revolution phase, Yorkshire of Britain= major woolen Manufacturing region because

  1. local supply of wool
  2. Water from nearby streams for washing and dyeing processes.
  3. Coal available to run machines.
  • But later, large-scale sheep rearing started in the southern continents: Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and Argentina.
  • Pricewise, the British could not in wool production= sheep rearing activity declined. Today sheep are raised mainly for meat industry.
  • Woolen cloths also face competition from cheaper synthetic fibers.
  • Thus, Yorkshire Woolen textile industry still continues to operate using imported wool from Southern hemisphere, to meet the European demand but the former glory is gone. (just like of Manchester in Cotton-textile biz)

Now let’s come back to India

India: Wool business
FactorWhy?
Nature of raw material
  • Wool as raw material =non-perishable, lightweight.
  • for Apparels : Indian wool = coarse fibers=irritates body. If you want to make decent apparels, you’ve import Australian wool anyways. (exception Kashmiri Shawls)
  • For non-apparels: Even to produce decent Carpets, blankets, you’ve to mix it with New Zealand’s wool.
  • Hence location of woolen textile not tied to raw material site.
Market
  • Winter in North India=brutally cold =good demand.
  • ~75% of industries concentrated in Northern States because of market factor.
  • Parallel to wool-market factor, you can see that Cotton textile industry is profound in southern half of India because warm-humid climate=more demand for Cotton garments than woolen.

India: woolen textile regions

Near Raw Material
  1. Srinagar: Kashmiri Shawl using Kashmiri goats.
  2. Punjab: raw material from Ludhiana, Dhariwal, Amritsar
  3. Jamnagar: raw material Kathiawar (and parts of Rajsthan)
  4. Rajasthan: Bikaner, Barmer
Near Market
  • Kanpur: In 1870s, Kanpur became major center of woolen textile to meet the requirements of British India Army.
  • Mumbai, Chennai= they mostly utilize imported wool for making apparels.

Enough of Wool industry, let’s move to next topic:

Jute Industry & Geographical Factors

Jute industry is a too clichéd 90s topic as far as UPSC is concerned but for the sake of completion:

Why did Jute Industry grow in West Bengal?
Raw material90% of Jute is cultivated in the Kolkata hinterland. Jute is the only crop that can withstand flooding of this region.
EnergyRaniganj and Jharia coalmines
WaterJute processing require large quantity of water for washing, bleaching, retting. Hubly river helps.
LabourJute-processing = labour intensive. Cheap labour available from Bihar, Odisha, W.Bengal.
CapitalKolkata had good banking-finance facilities because initially it was the capital of British India. Hence Jute mills flourished

Challenges

  1. Wage rates need to be linked with productivity, new sophisticated machinery needed, but labour unions resistant = businessmen not doing new investment.
  2. After partition, mills remained in India, jute producing areas went to East Pakistan (Banglades). So Bangladeshis are now using more modern machineries than while we’re still using outdated technology. (Because businessmen not doing new investment). Hence Bangladeshi jute products are better and cheaper than ours in International market.
  3. Competition from synthetic packaging material.
  4. Lack of marketing strategy to promote Indian jute as eco-friendly, biodegradable packing material among environmentally conscious customers in US and Europe.

Flax

Just passing reference:

  • From flax crop=>linen is made. Linen used for table cloths etc.
  • Flax processing also involves “retting” similar to Jute=>needs cheap labor and proximity to water bodies.
  • Done in poorer parts of Europe e.g. Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia etc.

What about synthetic fibers (Nylone, Polyester etc)=> we’ll see that in another article later on. For the curious souls: synthetic fibers=>near to raw material (refineries)

Mock Questions

5 marks each (100 words)

  1. Japan barely grows any fibers except silk, yet has a thriving textile industry. Explain
  2. Although Southern hemisphere dominates wool production but woolen textile industries are concentrated in Northern Hemisphere. Explain
  3. Why is Sheep rearing carried out on a large and profitable scale in Southern Hemisphere?
  4. Examine the geographical basis of development of cotton textile industries in monsoon Asia.
  5. Describe and account for the shifts in the textile industries of the world.
  6. Location of Cotton textile industry depends on multiple factors.
  7. Factors responsible for turning Mumbai into the Cottonopolies of India
  8. Factors that have contributed to development of woolen industry in Jammu and Kashmir.

10 marks each (200 words)

  1. Given an account of the natural fiber based textile industry in India and factors responsible for its distribution.
  2. Factors responsible for silk industry in India and China.
  3. From Osaka to Mumbai, From Shanghai to Lancashire, the factors responsible for the growth of textile industry have been one and same. Comment.
  4.  “In case of textile industry based on natural fibers, proximity to raw material location is non-essential. “ Do you agree / disagree with this statement. Justify with examples.

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5 Comments on “[Location Factors] Wool Industry, Jute Industry: rise & fall of Britain, Calcutta Jute problems”

  1. hi..does anybody know the answer for this question: Japan barely grows any fibers except silk, yet has a thriving textile industry. Explain

    1. As stated in the articles, all fibers are light weight and non perishable. Hence textile industries are hardly dependent on the location of raw materials. They depend on factors like skilled labour, prosperous market, availability of power, technology etc.

      All of these are available in Japan. The case of relative shortage of labour is offset by mechanisation and application of technology.

  2. I had a doubt..if australia has warm weather…how did sheep evovlve to grow wool?

    Answer: they are not natural habitant

    “By 1820 the number of sheep in Australia had reached approximately 120,000 and consisted mainly of meat sheep from the Cape of Good Hope, India, England and Ireland, and their resultant crosses. At this stage only around 30 merino sheep had been imported into Australia. However, the importation of around 5,000 merino sheep in the 1820s and their eventual crossing with the local sheep flock laid the foundations for the Australian wool industry.”

  3. you know about the water supply coming from where to the jute mills. please help.

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