Gandhi on the Economy of Cotton

POSTED ON May 29th, 2010 - by fredNo Comments »

The picture above shows Mahatma Gandhi spinning his own cotton in protest of British Imperialism, similar to the more famous demonstration where he and his followers collected their own salt on the beaches of Dandi (Salt Satyagraha) in 1930.

Gandhi also made the following observations about the economics of Indian cotton and the systematic exploitation of Indian for her raw materials under British rule.

Step 1: English people buy Indian cotton in the field, picked by Indian labor at seven cents a day, through an optional monopoly.

Step 2: This cotton is shipped on British ships, a three-week journey across the Indian Ocean, down the Red Sea, across the Mediterranean, through Gibraltar, across the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean to London. One hundred per cent profit on this freight is regarded as small.

Step 3: The cotton is turned into cloth in Lancashire. You pay shilling wages instead of Indian pennies to your workers. The English worker not only has the advantage of better wages, but the steel companies of England get the profit of building the factories and machines. Wages; profits; all these are spent in England.

Step 4: The finished product is sent back to India at European shipping rates, once again on British ships. The captains, officers, sailors of these ships, whose wages must be paid, are English. The only Indians who profit are a few lascars who do the dirty work on the boats for a few cents a day.

Step 5: The cloth is finally sold back to the kings and landlords of India who got the money to buy this expensive cloth out of the poor peasants of India who worked at seven cents a day.

(Fisher, F.B., 1932 That Strange Little Brown Man Gandhi, New York: Ray Long & Richard Smith, Inc.)