Why did the industrial revolution first occur in England? Discuss the quality of life of the people there during the industrialization. How does it compare with that in India at present?
- The industrial revolution started in England because of following factors:
- Economic factors:
- a) Agriculture revolution- there was consolidation of land holdings, new agricultural equipments like iron and steel ploughshare were used. The increase in agriculture productivity ensured availability of raw material and labour for industrial revolution.
- b) Due to the success of British mercantilism there was increased demand for British goods throughout the world. Rich merchants accumulated huge capital which could be invested in factories, etc.
- c) Proximity of iron and steel mines too provided necessary impetus because it saved the transportation cost.
- Political factors: There was political stability in Britain. British citizens enjoyed civil liberties like right to property, etc. There was legal protection to land owners. Britain participated in wars but suffered no damages because of its geographic location and naval supremacy.
- Social and Religious factors: Liberal, progressive ideas under the influence of enlightenment led to many breakthrough inventions like weaving machine, steam engines, etc. Unlike continental Europe, the society was free from social conflicts as citizens enjoyed legal protections. The protestant ethics led to accumulation of wealth and high savings rate.
- Impact of industrial revolution on quality of life of people: It had positive impacts like diverse high quality cheap goods were available & gave a boost to urbanization. At the same time, it was a time of flux as the old social structures and institutions were being transformed. There was a trend towards nuclear families, increase in social mobility, more emphasis on achieving status. Ethical and moral foundations weakened due to problems of slums, social crimes, etc. In the industrial districts, children tended to enter the workforce at younger age. Many of the new factory owners preferred to employ children as they viewed them more docile and tractable than adults.
- Comparison with India at present times: After independence, India embarked on the journey of planned industrialisation on the socialistic pattern. The role of state was very important with focus on industrial goods. There is less exploitation of working class as many labour laws are enacted to protect their rights. The Social institutions like marriage, family are getting transformed due to industrialization. However 47% of economy is still agriculture based, which is much higher than Britain of 19th century. Rural urban migration in search of new job opportunities landing people in slums and poor hygienic conditions.