powers of dealing with private rights in the forests of which the chief proprietary right is vested in the state. The Famine Commission of 1878 urged the importance of forest conservancy as a safeguard to agriculture, pointing out that a supply of wood for fuel was necessary if cattle manure was to be used to any extent for the fields, and also that forest growth served to retain the moisture in the subsoil. They also advised the protection and extension of communal rights of pasture, and the planting of the higher slopes with forest, with a view to the possible increase of the water-supply. These recommendations embody the principle upon which the management of the state forests is based. In 1894 the government divided forests into four classes: forests the preservation of which is essential on climatic or physical grounds, forests which supply valuable timber for commercial purposes, minor forests, and pasture lands. In the first class the special purpose of the forests, such as the protection of the plains from devastation by torrents, must come before any smaller interests. The second class includes tracts of teak, sal or deodar timber and the like, where private or village rights of user are few. In these forests every reasonable facility is afforded to the people concerned for the full and easy satisfaction of their needs, which are generally for small timber for building or fuel, fodder and grazing for their cattle, and edible products for themselves; and considerations of forest income are subordinated to those purposes. Restrictions necessary for the proper conservancy of the forests are, however, imposed, and the system of shifting cultivation, which denudes a large area of forest growth in order to place a small area under crops, is held to cost more to the community than it is worth, and is only permitted, under due regulation, where forest tribes depend on it for their sustenance. In the third place, there are minor forests, which produce inferior or smaller timber. These are managed mainly in the interests of the surrounding population, and supply grazing or fuel to them at moderate rates, higher charges being levied on consumers who are not inhabitants of the locality. The fourth class includes pastures and grazing grounds. In these even more than in the third class the interests of the local community stand first. The state forests, which are under the control of the forest department, amounted in 1901-1902 to about 217,500 sq. m., or more than one-fifth of the total area of British India, varying from 61% in Burma to 4% in the United Provinces.
Timbers.—A large part of the reserved forests, where the control of the forest department is most complete, consists of valuable timber, in which the first place is held by teak, found at its best in Burma, especially in the upper division, and on the south-west coast of India, in Kanara and Malabar. It is also the most prevalent and valuable product of the forests at the foot of the Ghats in Bombay, and along the Satpura and Vindhya ranges, as far as the middle of the Central Provinces. Here it meets the sal, which however is more especially found in the sub-Himalayan tracts of the United Provinces and Eastern Bengal and Assam. In the Himalayas themselves the deodar and other conifers form the bulk of the timber, while in the lower ranges, such as the Khasi hills in Assam, and those of Burma, various pines are prominent. In the north-east of Assam and in the north of Upper Burma the Ficus elastica, a species of india-rubber tree, is found. The sandal-wood flourishes all along the southern portion of the Ghats, especially about Mysore and Coorg; and in the same regions, as well as in Upper India, the blackwood occurs. A valuable tree, known as the padouk, is at present restricted almost entirely to the Andaman Islands, with a scattering in Lower Burma. There are many other timber trees that are in general demand in different parts of India, but the above are the best known outside that country. There is also the universal bamboo, and in the north-western tracts the equally useful rattan. The annual timber yield of the Indian forests is about fifty millions of cubic feet, excluding what is used for local purposes. About half of this quantity comes from the forests of Burma, where large amounts of teak and other woods are annually extracted, chiefly through the agency of private firms. It is, however, only the more valuable of the woods, such as teak, sandal-wood, ebony and the like, which find a market abroad. The total value of the export trade in forest produce averages between 1½ and 2 millions annually.
Manufacturing industries are being slowly developed in India, though their growth has not yet materially affected the pressure on the land. Next to agriculture, weaving is the most important industry in the country, the cotton-mills of Bombay and the jute mills of Bengal having increased greatly of recent years. On the other hand, the old indigenous industries of India decayed greatly during the latter part of the 19th century. The colonies of hand-workers in silk, cotton, carpets, brass and silver ware, wood and ivory, and other skilled craftsmen, which formerly existed in various parts of India, have fallen off both in the extent of their output and in the artistic excellence of their work. An attempt has been made to remedy the evil by means of schools of art, but with little result.
Cotton.—Cotton is the staple article of clothing in Eastern countries, and Indian cotton and other piece goods used to find a ready market in Europe before the English cotton manufacturer had arisen. When European adventurers found the way to India, cotton and silk always formed part of the rich cargoes that they brought home, and the early settlers were always careful to fix their abode amid a weaving population, at Surat, Calicut, Masulipatam or Hugli. But now the larger part of the cotton goods used in India is manufactured in mills in that country or in England, and the handloom weavers’ output is confined to the coarsest kinds of cloth, or to certain special kinds of goods, such as the turbans and “saris” of Bombay, or the muslins of Arni, Cuddapah, and Madura in Madras, and of Dacca in Bengal. The extent to which village industries still survive is shown by the fact that according to the census of 1901 there were 5,800,000 hand-loom weavers in India against only 350,000 workers in cotton mills.
The present importance of the cotton crop dates only from the crisis in Lancashire caused by the American War. Prior to 1860 the exports of raw cotton from India used to average less than 3 millions sterling a year, mostly to China; but after that date they rose by leaps, until in 1866 they reached the enormous total of 37 millions. Then came the crash, caused by the restoration of peace in the United States, and the exports fell, until they now average little more than 8 millions a year. The fact is that Indian cotton has a short staple, and cannot compete with the best American cotton for spinning the finer qualities of yarn. But while the cotton famine was at its height, the cultivators were intelligent enough to make the most of their opportunity. The area under cotton increased enormously, and the growers managed to retain in their own hands a fair share of the profit. The principal cotton-growing tracts are the plains of Gujarat and Kathiawar, whence Indian cotton has received in the Liverpool market the historic name of “Surat”; the highlands of the Deccan, and the valleys of the Central Provinces and Berar. The total area under cotton in 1905-1906 was 20½ million acres, and the export was 7,396,000 cwt.
It was estimated in 1905 that the world’s output of cotton was 19,000,000 bales, of which 13¾ millions were produced in the United States, 3 millions in India, and nearly 1¼ millions in Egypt, Japan and China being India’s best customers for the raw article. At the same time the total number of spindles employed in working up the world’s raw cotton was 116 millions, of which 48 millions were in the United Kingdom, 24 millions in the United States, and a little over 5 millions in India. There were 203 cotton mills in India, employing a daily average of 196,369 persons. The Bombay Presidency possessed 70% of the mills and much the same percentage of spindles and looms. The industry dates from 1851, when the first mill was started. But though India has special advantages in home-grown cotton and cheap labour, the labour is so inefficient as to make competition with Europe difficult. It is calculated that an Indian power-loom weaver working 72 hours a week can turn out 70 ℔ of cloth, while a European working 54 hours can turn out 468 ℔, and that one Lancashire weaver can do the work of six Indian power-loom weavers and nine hand-loom weavers. While these figures hold good, India cannot be a serious competitor with Europe in the cotton industry.
Jute.—Next to cotton, jute is the most important and prosperous of Indian manufactures. With the advance of commerce it is more and more required for its best-known use, as sacking for produce. Australia and Argentina need it for wool and wheat, Chili and Brazil for nitrates and coffee, Asiatic countries for rice, and the world as a whole for its increased output of produce. The supply has not kept pace with the demand, and the consequence was a steady appreciation in price from 1901 onwards. The cultivation of jute is confined, to a comparatively restricted area, more than three-fourths of the total acreage being in eastern Bengal and Assam, while nearly the whole of the remaining fourth is in Bengal. In 1907, however, experiments were made towards growing it in other parts of India. In Behar it has begun to replace indigo, and some success was achieved in Orissa, Assam and Madras; but jute is a very exhausting crop, and requires to be planted in lands fertilized with silt or else with manure. About half the total crop is exported, and the remainder used in the jute mills centred round Calcutta, which supply cloth and bags for the grain export trade. The number of jute mills in 1904 was 38, employing 124,000 hands, and since then the number has tended constantly upwards. The export of jute in 1905-1906 was 14,480,000 cwt. with a value of £12,350,000.
Silk.—The silk industry in India has experienced many vicissitudes. Under the East India Company large quantities of mulberry silk were produced chiefly in Bengal, and exported to Europe; and Malda, Murshidabad, and other places in that province have long been famous for their silk manufactures. Other kinds of silk are native to certain parts of India, such as those produced by the “castor oil” and the muga silkworms of Assam; but the chief of the wild silks is the tussore silk, which is found in the jungles nearly throughout India. Large quantities of comparatively coarse silk are made from silk so produced. In Assam silk is still the national dress, and forms the common costume of the women, but the men are relinquishing it as an article of daily wear in favour of cotton. Amongst the Burmese, however, silk still holds its own. Owing to disease among the silk-worms the industry has declined of recent years; and in 1886 an inquiry was held, which resulted in putting the silk-rearing industry of Bengal on a better basis. The most hopeful