In this article, You will read the Growth and Distribution Cotton Textile Industry in India – for UPSC (Industry – Geography of India).

Cotton Textile Industry

  • India held a world monopoly in cotton textiles, since almost 1500 BC. In the middle ages, Indian cloth was in great demand in European market. Muslins of Dhaka, Chintzes of Masulipatnam and Calicos of Calicut are world famous. But the advent of modern mills during Industrial Revolution and British India’s discriminatory policy led to its collapse.
  • The present cotton textile industry is an indigenous industry, since it was started and developed predominantly on Indian capital and entrepreneurship.
  • India is first in global jute production and shares 63% of the global textile and garment market. India is second in global textile manufacturing and also second in silk and cotton production.
  • 100% FDI is allowed via automatic route in the textile sector.
cotton textile industry in India

Phases of growth of Cotton Textile Industry

Incipient Phase(Up to 1900)
18181st modern mill established at Fort Gloster near Calcutta – soon closed
1854Parsi entrepreneur Kawasji Dhabar started the first successful cotton textile mill in Mumbai.
1860’sShahpur Mill in 1861 and Calico Mill in 1863 set up in Ahmadabad
1870’sThe real expansion of the cotton textile industry began, 60% of the cotton textile industry was located in Mumbai alone.
  • Bombay was the main focal point of all development in cotton textile industry. Following were the developments around Bombay:
    • Parsee merchants had huge finances from cotton and opium trade with China and raw cotton export USA during Civil War.
    • Technical expertise was made availability by European firms
    • Large cotton growing areas made raw materials easily available for new mills; they were already being exported through Mumbai.
    • Port facility allowed for the import of machinery, chemical etc.
    • Development of railways, in and around the Mumbai region facilitated the growth of Cotton Textile Industry.
    • Availability of cheap unskilled labour.
    • Climate advantage was there, humidity helped spinning without breakage.
Primary Core (1900-1920)
  • During World War I demand increased, supplies from other countries reduced, leading to the growth of the industry. Also, the Swadeshi movement contributed to the development of the Cotton Textile Industry. At the same time, the industry dispersed and other centers emerged. Ahmadabad was another major center. Other centers were Surat, Kalyan, Thane, Vadodara, Bharuch, and Pune. Factors that supported dispersion included.
    • Raw material availability at other places as well
    • Land cost increased in Bombay
    • Trade Unions were emerging in Bombay.
  • The dispersion of Cotton Textile Industry was two-directional:
    • North Direction – Delhi (Malwa plateau region provided cheap raw materials). Also, princely states took interest in the development of the Cotton Textile Industry. They provided free land and capital. Labour was also very cheap. Further, nearness to the market of North India facilitated the development of the Cotton Textile Industry in the north.
    • Eastern diffusion was mainly on the Telangana and Deccan lava Plateau area. Cotton Textile Industry expanded up to Nagpur in the east and Hyderabad in the South East.
  • Industry also reached some places with additional advantages such as:
    • Nagpur – due to nearness from coal mines
    • Kanpur – due to excellent financial facilities
    • Kolkata – due to proximity from port and market
cotton and jute growing area
  • Post-independence, several efforts were taken up to undermine the problems faced by the cotton industry and to increase production. Grow more cotton campaign was launched to tackle the problem created by the loss of cotton-producing areas. Intensive cotton-growing programs in 1971-72 were launched to increase production and productivity to meet demands.
  • Central Institute of Cotton Research was set up in 1988, Technology Mission on cotton development started to tackle all aspects of cotton cultivation and utilization. The private sector was encouraged to set up units and enhance the overall production.
  • As a result of Govt efforts and private sector involvement, after Independence the Cotton Textile Industry made recognizable dispersion. The following dispersion trends could be observed:
    • Development of irrigation in the old alluvial regions of the country, mainly in the regions of Green Revolution,
    • The industry made rapid progress in Punjab, Haryana, West UP, and Delhi. Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Pathankot, Amritsar in Punjab, Ambala, and Faridabad in Haryana. Agra, Saharanpur, Ghaziabad, Modinagar in UP (Cotton needs soil moisture, not the surface water so thus soils which retain water for a longer time are favorable for cotton. New alluvium does not favor cotton farming).
  • Market Impact – India’s tropical climate makes the whole country as a market. The Hoogly region in West Bengal emerged as a major region for Cotton Textile Industry.
  • Some diffusion also took place in Eastern and Central UP at Lucknow, Varanasi, etc. The industry reached to almost all states after independence.
  • Southward diffusion – Coimbatore, Madurai, Tirunelveli were major centers of diffusion. Its diffusion to the South, particularly Tami Nadu and Kerala is basically related to the following factors:
    • Development of Hydroelectricity e.g. Pykara project.
    • Readiness of industrialists to take advantage of amicable conditions for Cotton Industry.
    • Raw cotton farming in the Madurai-Coimbatore region
    • Market availability.
  • Industry also shifted from regions of higher labour cost to those of low labour costs e.g. Madurai, Ujjain, and Agra, etc.
Present Status of Cotton Textile Industry in India
  • India is the 2nd largest producer of cotton textiles in the world. It is also one of the largest industries in terms of employment, production, and exports.
  • In India at present, cotton cloth is produced in 3 sectors:
    • Mills – Mills share has come down from 80% in 1950 to 3.3% in 2005-06
    • Power looms: Power looms accounts for 85% of total production in Cotton Textile Industry. They are concentrated in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Karnataka.
    • Handlooms – They account for 12.5% of the total production in Cotton Textile Industry. They employ nearly 6 million people. There are nearly 38 lakh handlooms in India in which about one-third are located in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and rest in Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Rajasthan and Karnataka
  • Cotton Textile Industry is no longer an off-season occupation. It is an ancient industry, which has declined due to political and economic factors.
textile industry in india

Factors influencing location and distribution

  • Raw material:
    • Although raw cotton, the principal raw material is an easily transportable commodity, and many areas with cotton mills do not grow cotton. Its availability along with others factors has played a decisive role in the localization of cotton mills in the country. In fact, the whole country forming a large market, Cotton Textile Industry is concentrated in the region of raw cotton production and in the areas which provides it a certain advantage over the rest.
    • Distribution of over 90% of the industry is conterminous with the cotton-growing tracts in the relatively drier western parts of the peninsula and the Great Plains.
    • Large centers like Ahmadabad, Coimbatore, Solapur, Nagpur and Indore are situated in areas of large-scale cotton cultivation. Even Bombay enjoys this locational advantage to a lesser degree as compared to the cotton-producing areas of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
  • Market
    • Market is the second most important factor responsible for the development of these industries. Situated in the tropics and sub-tropics the country enjoys a warm climate and cotton cloth is in use for the whole year in the peninsula and for most of the year in the Great Plains.
  • Cheap labour:
    • Since cotton wearing was a traditional cottage industry, chiefly concentrated in the cotton tracts of the country, cheap skilled labour was easily available in such areas.
    • Hence it was also an important factor for the setting of cotton textile industries in cotton growing areas.
    • Cheap and efficient means of transport abundant power and fresh water and above all enterprise played some role in the development of the industry in the various part of the country.
    • The geographical inertia and government policy of decentralization has also influenced the location of the cotton industry.


  • The cotton textile industry is one of the most widely distributed industries in the country.
  • Maharashtra and Gujarat together account for a major chunk of cloth produced in India.
  • Maharashtra
    • It is the leading producer of cotton yarn and cloth. It is the third most important state from the point of view of the number of mills. Here Mumbai is known as cottono-polis of India followed by Solapur, Nagpur, Pune, Jalgaon, Kohalpur, etc.
  • Gujarat
    • It ranks second in cotton yarn and cloth production and in terms of a number of mills. Important centres are Ahmadabad, Surat, Broach, Baroda, Bhavnagar, Cambay, Rajkot, Kalal, etc.
  • Tamil Nadu
    • It has the largest number of mills. Important centres are Coimbatore, Madras, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, etc.
  • Uttar Pradesh
    • The industry is concentrated in the western parts of the state where most of the cotton is grown. Important centres are Kanpur, Modinagar, Moradabad, Aligarh, Agra, Etawah, Meerut, Ghaziabad etc.
  • West Bengal
    • Most of the mills are located around Calcutta and Howrah and in the 24-Paragana district. A large market, chief coal-producing areas, and port facilities of Calcutta are the chief location assets. Important centres are Calcutta, Howrah, Sodepur, Serampore, and Shyamnagar.
  • Madhya Pradesh
    • All the mills are concentrated in the cotton tract of the Western Malwa Plateau. Important centres are Gwalior, Indore, Ujjain, Raipur, Dewas, Bhopal, Jabalpur etc.
  • Karnataka
    • Important centre of production are Bangalore, Bellary, Mysore, Devangiri etc.
  • Andhra Pradesh
    • The industry has grown up in the cotton-growing areas of Telangana. Important centres are Hyderabad, Warangal, Guntur, Ramagundam, Tirupati, etc.
  • Kerala
    • In Kerala Alwaye, Cochin, Alleppey, Allapanagar, Trivendrum have emerged as the main centre for the production of cotton textiles
  • Rajasthan
    • In Rajasthan Kota, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Ganganagar, Bhilwara, etc. are the main centre for the production of cotton textiles
  • Haryana
    • Hissar and Bhiwani are the main centres of the cotton textiles industry in Haryana.
  • Punjab
    • Punjab has come up as a leading cotton-producing state in the country. New varieties of cotton e.g. BT cotton are being introduced with R&D done simultaneously on better varieties.
    • Amritsar and Ludhiana main centres of the cotton textiles industry in Punjab.
  • Delhi
    • Delhi as also emerged as an important center for the production of cotton textiles due to the presence of a huge market.
Cotton Textile Industry in India upsc

Problems of the Industry

  • Problems of raw materials
    • Production of cotton textiles depends to a large extent on the production of raw cotton. The cotton textiles industry in those areas where the production of raw cotton is small faces a serious problem.
    • Another related problem is the increasing prices of raw cotton. This has created a the different situation for the cotton textile industry, since it has pushed up the cost of production substantially.
    • Also there is the shortage of cotton which is now imported from Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, and USA (long stapled cotton).
    • However, efforts have been made to establish the industry in traditionally non – cotton belts.
    • Punjab has come up as a leading cotton producing state in the country. New varieties of cotton e.g. BT cotton are being introduced with R&D done simultaneously on better varieties. Improvement in relations with Pakistan can also help in easy import of cotton from there.
  • Problems of power
    • The textiles industry in country has suffered badly for want of adequate and regular supply of power. Frequent power cuts and load shedding have affected the industry badly. This is a general problem for industry in the country.
    • However, efforts like Mega Power Plants, new hydroelectric plants and participation of private sector is coming up in a big way to improve the power situation in the country. Besides, more energy efficient technologies need to be evolved to sort out this problem.
  • Obsolete machinery and need for modernization
    • Since the cotton textile industry is old in India and a number of mills were set up long back, the machinery and equipment have grown old and outdated and need fast replacement. Production with the help of such outdated machinery results in higher costs, and poor quality of product.
    • However, attempts for the modernization and replacement of old machinery by new machinery are hindered on one hand by the capital financial constraints (being faced by many units) and on other hand by protests from labour. Modernization involves automation which is likely to displace labour. The government has initiated many technology enhancement programmes.
    • Subsidies to the extent of 75-100% are being given for the modernization of this industry.
    • On the technology front, the Technology Up-gradation Fund Scheme has been instituted by the government in an effort to encourage manufacturers to go in for enhanced technology.
    • Countries like China have shown the way vis-a-vis the modern technologies and low cost of production.
  • Labour problems
    • The cotton textile industry has been faced with frequent labour problems. In 1982 the industry was shocked by a labour strike in Bombay which continued for eight months.
    • In India, many reforms vis-a-vis labour have been initiated by the government as second Generation Reforms. These included many reforms like VRS, training and rehabilitation measures.
  • High cost of production and competition in foreign markets
    • The Indian cotton textile industry has been facing increasing competition in world markets.
    • This is largely due to low productivity and high cost of production and consequently high prices of Indian cotton cloth textiles. It is paradoxical in a country where wages are low and cotton is internally available. Production costs should be high but the advantage of lower wages is offset by the comparatively greater disadvantage in raw materials and outdated machinery. While Indian major competitors like China, Taiwan and South Korea are using the latest machinery, Indian textile industry is saddled with absolute machinery.
  • Sickness and Recession in mill sector
    • Because of the above mentioned problems and the competition from the decentralized sector, a number of cotton mills are facing recession and are turning sick.
    • Low profits and profitability in the mill sector forces some of these mills to close down. Closure of mills is resented by workers as they are rendered unemployed.
  • Competition from decentralized sector
    • An important factor for the growing sickness of the mill sector is the growth of the decentralized sector. Being a small scale sector, the government allowed excise concessions and other privileges to other small sectors which sometimes become detrimental to textile sector due to lack of government support.
  • Lack of foreign investment: Due to challenges given above the foreign investors are not very enthusiastic about investing in the textile sector which is also one of the areas of concern.
Scarcity of raw cottonImport of raw cotton
Obsolete machinerylow productivity, inferior quality of finished
Erratic power supplyDecrease in efficiency and loss of production
Stiff competition from synthetic products, importsLoss of competitiveness.
Loss of foreign marketsDecrease in forex earnings

New Patterns in Cotton Textile Industry

  • New patterns of growth have been witnessed in Cotton Textile Industry from the past decade which has been given below:
    • Mills are encouraged to specialize in spinning while small units and handloom cooperatives specialize weaving.
    • Decentralized sector becoming more important in production of fabrics.
    • Preciously, mills and handlooms were competing with each other, but now becoming interdependent.

Key advantages of the Indian Cotton Textile Industry

  • India is the Second largest producer of cotton with the largest area under cotton cultivation in the world. It has an edge in low-cost cotton sourcing as compared to other countries.
  • Average wage rate
    • In India average wage rate is 50-60% lower than that in developed countries, thus enabling India to benefit from global outsourcing trends in labor-intensive businesses such as garments and home textiles.
  • Design and fashion capabilities
    • Design and fashion capabilities are key strengths that have enabled Indian players to strengthen their relationships with global retailers and score over their Chinese competitors.
  • Production facilities
    • Production facilities are available across the textile value chain, from spinning to garments manufacturing. The industry is investing in technology and increasing its capacities which should prove a major asset in the years to come.
  • Large Indian players such as Arvind Mills, Welspun India. Alok Industries and Raymonds have established themselves as ‘quantity producers’ in the global market.

Recent Schemes related to the Textile sector in India

Amended Technology Up-gradation Funds Scheme (ATUFS)It is Credit Linked Capital Investment Subsidy (CIS) which is provided for Technology Up-gradation under the ATUFS to promote exports through “Make in India” with “Zero Effect and Zero Defect” in manufacturing.
Scheme for Integrated Textile Parks (SITP)It was launched in 2005 to encourage private investments and employment generation in the textile sector by facilitating world-class infrastructure for common facilities, such as roads, power generation, and distribution networks, etc. Till date, 14 out of the first 40 Parks have been completed and 13 parks are operational
North-East Region Textile Promotion Scheme (NERTPS)It aims to provide infrastructure, capacity-building, and marketing support to the industry in North-East India. Under the Scheme, the Government has set up an Apparel and Garment Making Centre at Bodhjungnagar, Agartala under the NERTPS.
Scheme for Capacity
Building In Textile Sector
It covers the entire value chain of the textile sector except for Spinning and Weaving in an organized Sector.
A skill development scheme covering the entire textile value chain, excluding spinning & weaving in the organized sector, to be introduced between 2017-18 and 2019-20. Skill deficiencies and skills needs will be evaluated, and skills will be imparted accordingly. Include demand-driven, placement-oriented NSQF (National Skills Qualification Framework) Compliant skills program.
Mandatory Post Placement tracking.
For self-employment, concessional credit will be provided to beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana.
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments



thank you


And thankyou