Notes on the beginning of Industrial Revolution post Bengal’s ‘Loot’

“…The result of all this, even in its early stages, was the famine of 1770, which swept away over a third of the population of Bengal and Bihar. But it was all in the cause of progress, and Bengal can take pride in the fact that she helped greatly in giving birth to the industrial revolution in England. The American writer, Brooke Adams, tells us exactly how this happened: ‘The influx of Indian treasure, by adding considerably to the nation’s cash capital, not only increased its stock of energy, but added much to its flexibility and the rapidity of its movement. Very soon after Plassey, the Bengal plunder began to arrive in London, and the effect appears to have been instantaneous, for all authorities agree that the “industrial revolution” began with the year 1770….
Plassey was fought in 1757, and probably nothing has ever equalled the rapidity of the change that followed. In 1760 the flying shuttle appeared, and coal began to replace wood in smelting. In 1764 Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny, in 1776 Grompton contrived the mule, in 1785 Cartwright patented the power loom and in 1768 Watt matured the steam engine…. But though these machines served as outlets for the accelerating movements of the time, they did not cause the acceleration. In themselves
inventions are passive. Waiting for a sufficient store of force to have accumulated to set them working. That store must always take the shape of money, and money not hoarded but in motion. Before the influx of the Indian treasure, and the expansion of credit which followed, no force sufficient for this purpose existed….
Possibly since the world began, no investment has ever yielded the profit reaped from the Indian plunder, because for nearly fifty years Great Britain stood without a competitor.’

“ – Discovery Of India, Jawaharlal Nehru


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