Control of certain raw material assumed an enhanced significance during the Second World War. Elucidate with example of Natural Rubber.

The importance of rubber production from a strategic and security point of view was realized during the time of World War II. Japan moved to conquer Southeast Asia and made 90% of the world’s natural rubber unavailable to the allies. Rubber was used in many applications like making tires and other parts of military vehicles; and its strategic importance was realized during world war-II.

The crisis

World War II is significant in the history of rubber that changed the importance of the rubber industry forever. . Between December 1941 and March 1942, Japan seized South East Asia in its lightning campaigns. This resulted in the loss of over 90% of the world’s cultivated Hevea brasiliellsis trees to the allies. Rubber was one of the two components of the allies’ war machine, another being oil from the Middle East. Such was the crisis that it had brought the allies to the brink of military catastrophe. To meet the contingency, Britain shared rubber from Ceylon; it’s the last remaining source of Rubber. This was the time when efforts to create new synthetic rubbers were on a war scale.

Conditions in India

Rubber production in India that time was not even able to meet domestic needs. Rubber growers were encouraged to produce the maximum rubber required use during the war. After the war, there were growing demands from the growers for setting up a permanent organization to look after the interests of the industry. The government set up an ad-hoc committee in 1945 to analyze the situation and to suggest recommendations. On the recommendation of the committee, the government passed the Rubber (Production and Marketing) Act, 1947. Indian Rubber Board was constituted.

Post-war condition

After world war II, the researchers began an investigation on the issue of the use of synthetic rubbers to replace asphalt in their solid-fuel rocket motors. By the mid-1950s, solid fuels based on synthetic rubber were used in large missiles. It had no defects that would cause non-uniform burning. Later the synthetic rubber was used in various other applications.


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