The gradual industrialization of India did not only bring the Indian capitalists into the foreground of public life, it also created an industrial working class". Objectively analyze this statement along with giving reference to major working class movements in India in early 20th century.

Published: February 19, 2017

Industrialization in India began with the second half of the 19th century by  the development of ancillary industries along with the railways. The coal industry employed a large working force due to its robust growth. Cotton and Jute industries also came up which too employed large working force. The Indian working class suffered from the same kind of exploitation witnessed during the industrialization of Europe, such as low wages, long working hours, unhygienic and hazardous working conditions, employment of child labor .
In the opening decade of 20th century socialism began to take its root in India. The suffering of working class was not given importance by early nationalist to avoid taking issue associated with class.  Under the influence of socialism the Indian working class movement became intertwined with the political struggle to put an end to their suffering in hand of colonial political rule and economic exploitation
 Working class movement during early 20th century

  • The Swadeshi period saw the faint beginnings of a socialist tinge among some of the radical nationalist leaders who were exposed to the contemporary Marxist and social democratic forces in Europe.
  • During this period the number of strikes rose sharply and also it graduated from unorganised strikes to organised strikes.
  • Subramaniya Siva and Chidambaram Pillai led strikes in 1908 in Tuticorin and Tirunelvelli in a foreign-owned cotton mill demanding for higher wages to demise foreign mills in accordance with the aim of swadeshi movement.
  • The biggest strike of the period was organised after Tilak’s arrest and trial.
  • First attempts at trade union organisation were springing up all over India during this period. There is a trace of the Workers in the Ahmedabad Cotton Mills forming a union in 1917.

Further, the All India Trade Union Congress was founded on October 31, 1920. The Indian National Congress president for the year, Lala Lajpat Rai, was elected as the first president of AITUC and Dewan Chaman Lai as the first general secretary. Lajpat Rai also linked Imperialism with capitalism

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