With the advent of the machine age, cottage industries have lost much of their old position and popularity. In the age of mass production, it is impossible for these industries to compete with large scale industries. Despite all this, cottage industries have not been ousted from the world.
Their importance, even in a machine age, is not negligible. An industrially India is the dream of many a nationalist. Cottage industries can make a lot of contribution to the translation of this dream into reality.
India has been one of the oldest homes of cottage industries. Her cottage industries had a great celebrity even outside the country. Cottage industries of India are many and varied. There are the cotton handloom industry, the silk weaving industry, the wool weaving industry and the lock and key industry.
Among other cottage industries of India, pottery, hosiery tanning, soap- making, toy-making, bidi-making, cutlery, etc., may be mentioned. The cottage industries of India, in the past, supplied domestic requirements and exported the surplus to other countries including Europe.
But those palmy days of Indian cottage industries are now no more. Most of her cottage industries are now in a sad state of decadence. Various actors have been responsible for their decadence.
Foreign domination and exploitation, chronic poverty, limited marketing facilities and many other elements have drained away the fountain of Indian cottage industries.
Cottage country of India is today faced with a variety of problems that blunt their growth and, hence, affects their expansion. The most serious problem is the high cost of production, which affects their sale. Other handicaps include organisational weaknesses, technical deficiency, poor marketing facilities, etc.
But cottage industries need revival for India’s economic development. They have a significant role to play in the development of her national economy. A developing country like India can hardly progress without an encouraging aid from cottage industry.
The paucity of funds is a great hindrance in the effort to industrialize India fully. Cottage industries do not require much capital. They may prove more useful and easily realizable in India. Again, these industries offer subsidiary occupations to the Indian agriculturists.
The seasonal unemployment which is so clearly seen in India can be combated well by the revival of cottage industries. These industries supplement their income.
By providing employment to a large number of people and supplying domestic requirements the cottage industries play a significant role in the enrichment of India’s economic life.
Moreover, cottage industries allow the artisans to reveal their art and ability. Man is
The sense of satisfaction, that the artisan feels in his mind, fosters strongly his creative power. There exists a cordial relation between the employer and the employed. This cordial relationship is found in the cottage industries and not in the large scale industries.
The concentration of wealth and economic powers in the hands of a privileged few is an incident natural to large-scale industry. But, in the cottage industries, which do not aim at the refined way of the exploitation of the many by a few, no such thing is possible.
Cottage industries have their own economic significance in the matter of enriching the social order. Their importance, as subsidiary occupations to the Indian agriculturists, cannot be minimised. The attraction, they offer to the rural life, is no less significant, as it retards the one-way traffic to cities and industrial centres.
Even in industrially advanced countries like Germany, Japan Switzerland, various cottage industries continue to flower successfully even today. It clearly demonstrates that the prospects of these industries are no bleak in a machine age.
There is no reason for apprehending that cottage industries are destined to die in an age of machinery. There is scope for their development in every country amidst the rumbling of big machines.
With better equipment, sufficient finance and organised activities, they can put themselves on a sound footing and exist honourably by the side of big factories. In short, cottage industries shall have a place -a definite place in the future as it had in the past.