Explain the following: The East India Company appointed ‘gomasthas’ to supervise weavers in India

The East India Company appointed ‘gomasthas’ to supervise weavers in India 

East India Company went on to develop a system of control and management to ensure regular supplies of cotton and silk goods, control costs, and eliminate corruption. East India Company could assert a monopoly of right to trade when they established political power in India. East India Company achieved this by undertaking various measures which are given below: 

East India Company – Appoints Gomasthas

  • To examine the quality of cloth, to collect supplies, and to supervise the weavers, East India company appointed Gomastha, a paid servant.
  • The existing brokers and traders connected with the cloth trade were first eliminated by the East India Company.
  • The East India Company tried to establish a more direct control over the weaver through Gomastha.

East India Company – Methods used to get Weavers Under Control through Gomasthas

  • Through the system of advances, the East India Company prevented weavers from dealing with other buyers.
  • For production, weavers were given loans to purchase raw materials, once an order was placed by the East India Company.
  • The weavers who took loans could not sell their products to any other trader, but had to hand the products to Gomastha.
  • With hopes to increase their earning, weavers were happy to take advance loans, as there was expansion in the demand for fine textiles 
  • Earlier weavers had a small plot of lands, the produce from which augmented the needs of their family.
  • Now, with this new system implemented by the East India Company, weavers had to devote their entire time for weaving and weavers had to lease out their lands.
  • The entire family including children and women had to engage in different stages of weaving.

Gomastha – Punishing Weavers

  • Weavers were punished by the Gomasthas, if there was delay in supply 
  • The new gomasthas were outsiders and they did not have a long-term social link with the village.
  • Gomasthas acted arrogantly. Gomasthas marched into villages with peons and sepoys and punished weavers for delays in supply, usually by flogging and beating up the weavers.
  • Weavers received very low prices for their products and they were tied to the company due to loans. 
  • Before this system was implemented by the East India Company, the weavers had social connections with supply merchants, who helped the weavers in times of crises, as the merchants were also living in the same village as weavers. 
  • Weavers lost the space to bargain for prices and sell it to different buyers. Hence weavers either revolted or left the villages.

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