(iii) Cottage and Village Industries

The cottage and village industries are of considerable importance in improving the economic condition of the rural population, as they play an important role in the rural economy and its reconstruction. In fact, the improvement of agriculture largely depends upon the resuscitation of the small-scale rural industries.  These industries provide the agriculturists with part-time jobs in the off-season and, thus, help to mitigate unemployment to some extent.

The important cottage and village industries in the District are described below :

(33) Handloom-Weaving --- It is an important old cottage industry, carried on in almost all villages and towns. In the past, the villagers used to meet their demand for cloth locally. The home-grown cotton, and wool were spun by the womenfolk at home and got the yarn woven by the village weaver who was paid some remuneration for his labour. Blankets, kheses of various types and designs, and coarse cloth, called khaddar, were the main products of the handloom-weaving industry. Durries were woven by the womenflok themselves for their domestic needs.

 

 

After 1947 and, especially with the implementation of the Five-Year-Plans, the products of the handloom-weaning industry have improved. The State Government gives concessions and facilities. The Village and Khadi Board Commission, set up by the Government of India, also helps to develop cottage and village industries. The main raw materials required for the industry  are cotton and wollen yarn, hand-and mill-spun.

In 1979-80, the industry gave employment to 785 workers and produced goods worth 6.84 lakhs of rupees. Mostly, backward classes are engaged in this industry. The number of units engaged in handloom-weaving have, however, been on the decrease. Only 438 units were  engaged in the industry in the District in 1979-80 as against 968 units before 1947.

(34) Leather-Training—Leather-training is also an important village industry. The main raw materials required for it are hides, skins and bark of the kikar (Acacia arabica) tree, which is used for treating raw  hides and skins. In 1979-80 there were 536 units engaged in the industry, which gave employment to 1,241 persons and produced goods worth 21.82 lakhs of rupees.

 

(35) Jutti-Making --- Jutti (country shoes) making is also another important industry located at Fazilkla. The main raw materials required for industry are tanned leather, nails, thread, etc. A good number of units were engaged in the industry.

(36) Ghani Oil --- In 1979-80, 32, units were engaged in this industry which gave employment to 49 persons and produced goods worth Rs. 72.000. The number of kohlus, i.e. oil-presses, is on the decrease.

(37) Gur ahd Khandsari --- The making of gur and khandsari is also an important industry of the rural areas. In 1979-80, 85  units were engaged in the production of gur and khandsari in the District.  The industry produced goods worth 9.01 lakhs of rupees and gave employment to 135 persons.

(38)  Ban and Rope making --- This district is known for this industry as the basic raw material, i.e. munj, is available in abundance in the belt  along the Satluj River and the canals.  Previously, ban was made with hands, but now hand-driven and power-driven machines are used in its  production. In 1979-80, 548 units were engaged in the production of ban and ropes. These units produced goods worth 4.33 lakhs of rupees and gave employment to 683 persons.

 Apart from the above, there are other cottage and village industries, such as carpentry, pottery, goldsmithy, blacksmithy, flour-grinding, cotton-carding and basket-making.

(iv) Jail Industries

The prisoners in the Central Jail, Firozpur, are given training in the various trades to enable them to earn their livelihood by doing some useful productive work after their release and, thereby, become good citizens. The different trades, in which training is given in the jail, are carpentry (furniture-making), textiles, durrie weaving, tailoring (rison and hospital uniforms), niwar and tape, tags  and laces, munj and hemp, bamboo products (chicks, brooms, etc.), oil and oilcakes and poultry.

The articles manufactured in the above-mentioned trades in the jail are sold mainly to jails, government departments  and private individuals. The following was the outturn of the industries, during 1974 to 1980 ;

 

 

Year                                                      Amount (Rs)

 

 

1973                                5,52,924

1974                                6,23,849

1975                                5,35,665

1976                                6,39,691

1977                                5,15,324

1978                                6,11,536

1979                                10,62,825

(Source: Superintendent Central Jail, Firozpur)

 

(h) Role of Industrial Co-operatives

The role of industrial co-operatives in the development of industries in a basically agricultural District, such as Firozpur, is all the more important, because the people here do not invest much in industries. Capital is shy not only in the rural but also in the urban areas. The industrial co-operatives help to set up village industries in the rural areas, because an average industrial worker does not posses sufficient capital for installing modern machinery. Apart from the fixed investment difficulties, he is also unable to meet the requirements of the working capital.  Besides, he procures  raw materials at higher rates and markets his goods at  lower rates, because he cannot compete in the open market with bigger producers on account of his smaller scale of production, higher cost  of production, lower degree of bargaining power, etc. The formation of industrial co-operatives by individual workers obviates most of their handicaps. The societies purchase raw materials in bulk at lower prices  from the wholesalers.. the products are also disposed of at reasonable  rates. Credit facilities are readily given by private entrepreneurs in  the case of societies. the co-operative societies also get subsidies , grants-in-ais and loans from the Government for the purchase of machinery, equipment, etc. Moreover, the development  of village industries in this agricultural district, where farmers remain unemployed or disguisedly unemployed, will give full-time employment.

The following table shows the number and membership of the industrial co-operative societies in the District as in June, 1980 :

Serial No.

Name of Industry

Number of Industrial co-operative societies

Member-ship

1

Handloom-weaving

11

233

2

Small-scale industries

177

3,314

3

Khadi and village industries

30

1,093

4

Handicrafts

4

60

                                    (Source : Assistant, Co-operative Societies, Firozpur),

 

Serial No.

Industrial Co-operatives

Amount(Rs)

 

1

Handloom-weaving

20,000

2

Small-scale industries

15,36,000

3

Khadi and village industries

1,05,000

4

Handicrafts

15,000

                        (Source : Assistant Registrar, Co-operative Societies, Firozpur)

 

           

 

Before April 1963, the industrial co-operatives were under the control of the Co-operative Department. Since then, these co-operatives have been transferred to the Industries Department. The Assistant Registrar Co-operative Societies , Firozpur, is in charge of the Industrial Co-operative Societies in the Firozpur, is in charge is Industrial Co-operative  Societies  in the Firozpur District. He is under the administrative control of the Deputy Registrar, Industrial co-operatives, Firozpur.

The following table shows the amount of loans advanced and the subsidies given by the Government to the Industrial co-operative Societies in the District during 1978-79 and 1979-80 :

 

Industrial Co-operative

1978-79

1979-80

Loan (Rs.)

Subsidy (Rs.)

Loan (Rs.)

Subsidy (Rs.)

Weaver's Societies

--

--

--

--

Small-Scale Industries

7,900

--

7,900

--

Khadi Societies

8,200

--

8,200

--

Handicrafts Societies

--

--

--

--

                        (Source : Assistant Registrar, Co-operative Societies, Firozpur)

 

The following table shows the progress made by the industrial Co-operative in the district during 1978-79 to 1979-80:

Particulars

Year

1978-79

1979-80

Number of Industrial Co-operative Societies

224

233

Membership

4,548

4,700

Share Capital (in Rs.)

19,61,000

19,89,000

Working Capital (in Rs.)

35,43,000

36,67,000

Production (in Rs.)

9,48,000

16,76,000

Sales (in Rs.)

9,27,000

15,53,000

                        (Source : Assistant Registrar, Co-operative Societies, Firozpur)

 

 

The above table shows that there has not been any appreciable progress in the working of the industrial co-operatives in the District, mainly due to its close proximity to the Pakistan border.  The District suffered great set-back during the Indo-Pakistan conflicts of 1965 and 1971. A number of schemes have therefore, been initiated by the Government to provide the Co-operative societies with financial assistance. The Central Co-operative Banks also advance loans.

(i) Labour and Employers Organizations

Labour Organizations --- The following is the list of registered trade unions of workers employed in different industries in the District .

Name of Trade Union                                                               Date of registration

 

1. Satluj Flour-Mil Workers Union, Firozpur City                  19 January 1956

2. Indian Enamel Worker's Union, Firozpur City                  22 February 1957

3. Cotton-Mill Mazdoor Union, Abohar                          23 August 1959

4. Cotton-Textile Mazdoor Union, Abohar                          27 May 1962

5. Cotton-Mill Mazdoor Union, Fazilka                          25 August 1967

6.  Bhiwani Cotton-Mills Karmchari Sangh, Abohar             11 March 1969

7.  Bakery-Workers Union, Ferozpur                                              17 March 1971

8.  Biscuit Bakery-Workers' Union, Fazlika                          7,  November 1973

9.  Zila Ferozpur Cotton and Ginnning-Mill Mazdoor            14 April

10. Cotton-Mill Labour Union, Abohar                         25 October 1977

 

Manufacturer’s Associations --- These associations play an important role in the development of industries and help the members to removes their difficulties, besides the procurement of scare raw materials. A list of the associations registered in the District, along with the dates of their registration, are given below :

1.      Abohar cotton and Grain Merchants Association, 8 January 1969   Abohar.

 

2.      Northern Railway welding and Trading 2 June 1976 Contractor’s Association,   Ferozpur.

 

        Besides the above associations, a number of  unregistered association are also functioning in the District.

 

(j) Welfare of the Industrial Labour

Activities relating to the intellectual, physical, moral and economic betterment of the workers, whether by the employers, by the government or by other agencies, over and above what is laid down by law or what is normally expected as part of contractual benefits, for which the workers may have bargained are known as welfare activities.  These activities may include  housing, medical and educational facilities, nutrition (including provision of canteens), facilities for rest recreation, co-operative societies, day nurseries and crèches, the provision of sanitary accommodation, schemes of social security, etc. The growing attention that is being paid to labour problems at the present time is an indication of the increasing importance of the working class in the economic and social structure of modern communities.

Industrialization began comparatively late in India and its progress has been neither repaid nor smooth. the origin of the labour-welfare work in the country may be traced back to the time of the World War 1 (1914-1918). Till then, the welfare of the workers was hardly thought of owing to the ignorance and illiteracy of the workers themselves, the short-sightedness of the employers, the carelessness of the State and the indifference of the public. But, since the World War I, it has been expanding steadily, mostly on a  voluntary basis.  The economic depression also  did much to temper the interest which the war had kindled. The Government and the industrialists were prompted to take active interest in welfare work owing to the discontent and industrial unrest that prevailed in the country and to some extent owing to the moral pressure  brought to bear on them by the work of the International Labour Office. The World War II (1939-1945) revived and strengthened the welfare movement and the benefits resulting from  a proper regard for the health and well-being of the employees were gradually recognized, and the employers co-operated with the Government in the provision of improved amenities.

It was only during the World War II that the Government of India started taking active interest in promoting welfare schemes for industrial workers. Efforts in this direction were redoubled with the achievement of Independence in 1947 and the emergence of India as a Republic in 1950, wedded to the idea of a Welfare State. The Government has also passed  various labor laws, mainly with a view to making the lives of the workers happier and healthier. The salient features of the various labour laws in force and the labour-welfare schemes introduced thereunder are discussed in Chapter XVII, ‘Other Social Services’.

CHAPTER VI

BANKING, TRADING AND COMMERCE

(A) Banking and Finance

(a) History of Indigenous Banking

Banking was known and practised in India at a time when the rest of the world had yet to evolve a medium of exchange in the form of money. “From time immemorial”, says M.L. Tannan, “ the banker has been an indispensable pillar of Indian Society. There is plenty of evidence to show that even prior to the advent of accidental ideas, India as no stranger to the conception of banking.” Traces can be found of banking in India in the Vedic Period (about 2000 B.C.) in the form of money-lending. the Buddhist Jatakas (or birth stories), the Mahabharata, Kautilaya’s Arthshastra and earlier dharmshastas also refer to the practising of banking in those periods. Manu also testifies to the existence of banking and he devotes two chapters to deposits and pledges and the recovery of debt’.  Similarly, the Muslim historians of the twelfth century  also refer to the existence of Multanis and Shroffs, who financed the trade and commerce of the country and also acted as bankers to the then rulers. The indigenous banking system  is still continuing, despite the fact that the joint-stock banks have made a remarkable progress.

The institution of indigenous banking in this part of the country is as old as anywhere else. The lack of peace, and the insecurity of life in the region due to the successive invasions from the north-west disturbed the economy and , as such, there was slump in trade and industry and also in the agricultural sector. The position, however, improved much with the rise an  of the Sikh power. Moreover, agriculture was a low-paying occupation and depended upon the vagaries of nature. The failure of crops, either due to the spread of crop  diseases or due to the failure of rains, was not uncommon. There were no subsidiary occupations in the villages.  Hence the income of the farmer was low. The people of the urban and rural areas had, therefore, to resort to credit for survival.

 

In the urban areas, there were banks who provided the people with finance for trade and industry. They advanced money mostly against security to lessen risk. The rate of interest charged  by them was also low, i.e. 6 to 9 per cent annum. They gave loans, keeping in view the objective of the borrower. Then there were urban money-lenders who advanced loans for purposes of consumption. Such loan, being mostly without security, involved greater risk. Moreover, the clients  were irregular and unpunctual in repaying the loans.  Accordingly, the rate of interest charged on such loans was higher.

 

The rural money-lender occupied a very prominent position in the rural economy. He served the agriculturist in a variety of ways by advancing money to him for buying food and other necessaries of life, for performing social and religious ceremonies and for securing agricultural  requisites, such as seeds and bullocks. During drought and famine, the agriculturist took loans from the money-lender against the security of agricultural land and paid them back at the time of harvest.

In course of time, the ‘friend in need’ became actuated by greed and usury and exploited the agriculturist, by charging exorbitant rates of  interest. In some cases, interest was many times the principal and the poor borrower was unable to pay off the debt, with the result that the usurer deprived him, of his land and other belongings. From 1870 onwards, when the value of land began to rise, the money-lender imposed such hard terms of mortgaging land that a mortgage always ended in the land being sold to him by the agriculturist to clear off his debt. To safeguard the interests of the cultivators (borrowers), the Government passed the Punjab Alienation of Land Act, 1900. This Act no doubt curbed the malpractices of the village-money-lender, but it did not improve the lot of the peasant.  It merely replaced the sahukar by the agriculturist money-lender.

The Commission on Agriculture recommended the starting of the co-operative movement and, consequently, the first Co-operative Societies  Act was passed in 1904. Under this Act, the first co-operative credit society in the District was registered on 4 October 1911, in the village of Khilichi Qadim (Firozpur Tehsil). The progress of co-operative societies  in the Punjab encouraged the Government to pass the Co-operative Societies Act, 1912, which widened the scope and permitted the registration of secondary societies. Thus there came into existence the Fazilka Central Co-operative Bank, Fazlika, in 1915, followed by the Firozpur Central Co-operative Bank, Firozpur, in 1924.

 

The position of the village money-lender was further worsened by the passage of the Punjab Regulation of Accounts, Act, 1930; the Punjab Relief of Indebtedness Act, 1934; The Punjab Debtors’ Protection Act, 1936, and the Punjab Registration of Money-lender’s Act, 1938. These enactments resulted in the contraction of credit operations by the money-lenders. But the needs of the agriculturist were not lessened. So some agency, which could provide the agriculturist with funds was needed.

The passage of the above-mentioned enactments by the Government also affected the agriculturist money-lender. He, therefore, explored other avenues to invest his surplus funds and , finally, he was effectively checked, when the Punjab Alienation of Land Act, 1900, was repealed  with the enforcement of the Constitution of India on 26 January 1950,

 

(b) General Credit Facilities

(i)  Indebtedness, Rural and Urban

Indebtedness means the amount of loan which the people owe to the various agencies and individuals. It may be studied under two heads: rural indebtedness and urban indebtedness. Rural indebtedness is the amount of loan borrowed by the ruralists. Such loans are mostly unproductive, as these are taken for incurring expenditure on performing ceremonies, for meeting consumption needs and for indulging in bad practices, such as drinking and not much of the borrowed money is used for improving land and its productivity or for mechanizing farming. The main agency for borrowing money is the village money-lender. Borrowing continues despite the co-operative movement having progressed  much and banking facilities having been extended. On the other hand, urban indebtedness implies the amount of loan taken by the urban people from various lending agencies, such as banks, insurance companies and chit fund companies. But unlike the rural debt, the urban debt is highly  productive, because mostly the borrowers are either businessmen or traders or industrialists, who borrow either to start new ventures or to expand the existing ones.  This debt, thus, results in increasing the income of the State and may generate more employment.

Rate of Interest --- Interest is paid by the borrower to the lender. As there are different lending agencies in the District, the rate of interest charged by them is not uniform. It differs with the nature of the loan, the period involved (i.e. a higher rate of interest for a short period and a lower rate for a long period), the risk involved, the nature of surety, etc. In the District, the commercial banks charge that rate of interest which is fixed by the Government of India from time to time. However, the loaning policies of the co-operatives are being increasingly orientated to serve the needs of the weaker sections.  The co-operative societies advance loans at the rate of interest ranging from 10.5 to 13.05 per cent.  The loans advanced under the State Aid to Industries Act 1935, carry only 4 per cent rate of interest. The local money-lenders charge  a much higher rate, varying from 18 to 25 percent or even more. In some cases, the interest is recovered in kind at the harvest time. The rate of interest is decided at the time of advancing the loan which ordinarily is taken during lean months and is repaid  at the harvest time. Generally, the borrower has to repay 1-1/4 or 1-1/2 times the quantity borrowed. Such loans are without security and are taken by landless borrowed. Such loans are without security and are taken by landless labourers. This method of advancing loans is vanishing fast.

 

(ii) Role of Private Money-lenders and Financiers

Money-lenders—Although the importance of private money-lender, at one time the only lending agency, has not completely vanished, it is definitely declining fast. There  was a time when other lending agencies, such as banks, were not sufficiently developed. Then the money-lender was holding the key position with respect to the providing of finance not  only in the rural areas, but also in the urban areas. The banian, who had a relatively adequate level of literacy, exploited  the rural people to the maximum; so much so that even a number  of generations of innocent, ignorant and illiterate farmers continued to remain in his clutches. He used to charge  a very high rate of interest. He was mainly interested in realizing the  interest and not in recovering the principal. At times, he either usurped the land or did not leave even a single grain of corn to the poor farmer after harvest. But all this does not happen now because of the spread of education and the imposition of legal restrictions on the money-lenders, the co-operative movement and the development of other lending agencies, such as banks (joint-stock as well as co-operative).

There were several methods of advancing loans, such as loans on personal surety against produce, land, ornaments and property.  Generally, the banian or money-lender had a grocery shop in the village  and advanced money to the needy persons and collected the loan  at the time  of harvest by taking the produce. he sued to charge different rates of interest from different persons. Generally, he advanced 60 to 70 per cent of the face value of the property pledged against the loan advanced. Higher rates of interest were charged  for the loans advanced against intangible surety, than those against the tangible one. After the passing of the  Punjab Regulation of Accounts Act, 1930, which made it binding on the part of the money-lender to maintain accounts, most of the transaction were carried on either orally or against ornaments. The village money-lender, of course came to the rescue of the villagers at the time of famine, scarcity or at the birth of a soon or at the time of the marriage  of a son  or a daughter, when a lot of extravagant expenditure was to be incurred. Keeping in view these circumstances, a Punjabi saying, Guru bina gat nahin, shah bina pat nahin (No Salvation without a guru, and no respectability in society in society without a money-lender), holds goods even to-day.

With the spread of other financial institutions and the change in the policies of the Government , the money-lenders’ business is decreasing and they are leaving it altogether. The hereditary money-lenders, however, still continue the business, because they fined it quite profitable. Their chief importance lies in their simple procedure of advancing loans, as against the lengthy and cumbersome process of joint-stock and co-operative banks, which the illiterate and ignorant villagers cannot easily comprehend. In 1979-80, there were 361 registered money-tenders in the district, besides a number of unregistered ones.

(iii) Government and Semi-Government Credit Agencies.

With the decay of the system of indigenous money-lending as a source of finance in rural as well as in urban areas, the gap has been filled by the governmental/semi-governmental credit agencies.  These are the Punjab Financial Corporation, the Kahdi and Village Industries Commission, joint-stock banks, Co-operative bank and Co-operative societies. The Punjab Financial Corporation provides medium and long-term loans to industrial concerns established in the State. It provides finances up to 20 lakhs of rupees in the case of public limited company or a registered co-operative society and up to 10 lakhs in other cases. The Corporation charges rates of interest from 10.25 to 13.50 per cent. The loans advanced by the Corporation are repayable in 10 years. These loans are advanced against hypothecation of land, buildings, plants machinery etc., with a margin of 40 per cent of the net assessed value. In the case Government guarantee, the margin is reduced from 40 to 20 per cent.  The Khadi and Village Industries Commission and Industries Department also advance loan.

Agriculturists and industrialist also get loans from the Government. to agriculturist, loans are advanced for the purchase of seed, cattle, tractors, agricultural implements, etc. Loans are also advanced to small-scale industries under the State Aid to Industries Act, 1935. These are mentioned in chapters on ‘Agriculture and Irrigation’ and ‘Industries’. In addition to these, co-operative societies advance loans against promissory notes. After the nationalization of certain banks in 1969 and 1980, the joint-stock banks have extended the loan facilities to the agriculturists, industrialists, traders and consumers against personal sureties, shares, agricultural commodities and other easily marketable  goods.

(iv) Joint Stock Banks

Banking has played a very important part in the economic development all over the world. In India, banking on Western lines started from the beginning of the nineteenth century. The first attempts were however, not successful.

The first joint-stock bank to be established at Firozpur was the Punjab National Bank, which was opened in 1895. Another branch of it was opened in 1902. The Swadeshi Movement in 1905 gave great stimulus to the starting of Indian banks and their number increased remarkably during the boom of 1906-13. The boom continued till it was overtaken by the crash of 1913-17, when several banks failed. In 1932, again there were back failures. During the World Was II (1939-45) and the immediate post-war years, the Indian joint-stock banking made rapid progress. The partition of India in 1947 and its aftermath gave it a temporary set-back.

The Banking Companies Act, 1949, did much to improve the efficiency and the tone of the tone of the banking system

The number of banking offices at various places in the District as on 31 December 1978, was as under :

                                   

No. of Bankings

offices

 

        State Bank of India                                             15

 

        State Bank of Patiala                                          2

 

        Punjab National Bank                            17

 

        Other Commercial Banks                      33

 

        Co-operative Banks                              35

 

                                                                     102

(Statistical Abstract of Punjab, 1980, p. 523)

The different leading joint banks which have their branches in the District, are as under :

1.      Punjab National Bank

 

2.      State Bank of India

 

3.      State Bank of Patiala

 

4.      State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur

 

5.      Allahabad Bank

 

6.      Bank of Baroda

 

7.      Bank of India

 

8.      Bank of Maharashtra

 

9.      Canara Bank

 

10.     Indian Overseas Bank

 

11.     Union Bank of India

 

12.     United Commercial Bank

 

13.     Laxami Commercial Bank

 

14.     Oriental Bank of Commerce

 

15.     Punjab and Sind Bank

 

16.     New Bank of India

 

17.     Central Bank of India

 

18.     The Firozpur Central Co-operative Bank, Ltd.

 

19.     The Fazlika Central Co-operative Bank, Ltd.

 

 

        Total deposits and bank credit in the District as on 31 March 1980 amounted to Rs. 5,593 lakhs and Rs. 6,048 lakhs respectively.

 

(v)     Co-operative Credit

 

        The idea of using co-operation in India as a means of combating rural indebtedness and the supplying of credit was first suggested by Sir Frederick Nicholson in 1897. he pleaded forcefully for the introduction of co-operative  credit societies in India.  Although no action was taken on his report, yet some districts established a few pioneer co-operative societies on their own initiative.

 

The passage of the Co-operative Societies Acts of 1904 and 1912 gave birth to the co-operative credit societies in the country.  Credit co-operative occupy a predominant position in the Indian co-operative movement. Among these, the agricultural credit societies constitute the most important part and they by far outnumber all other types of co-operatives. Agricultural credit may be either short-term or long-term. The short-term co-operative credit has a sort of federal structure, a three-storeyed organization. In every State, this structure consists of the State Co-operative Banks at the apex or top, Primary Credit Societies at the village level, with Central Co-operative Banks coming in between at the district level.   

Co-operative Credit Societies --- The Co-operative movement in the district was started in 1912. It was received with great enthusiasm by the poorer agriculturists. The movement received a great impetus from two generous gifts of Rs. 8,000 each, made in 1912 and 1914 by  a former Settlement Officer of the District, Mr. E.B. Francis (ICS, retired).

 

By 1914, the operations had started in Zira, Firozpur and Fazilka tehsils. As on 31st July 1914, there existed 171 societies, all of which, except one, were agricultural and of unlimited liability as per particulars given below :

 

Class of Societies      Societies       Members         Working

                                                        capital

                                                        Rs.

Agricultural                170             5,886           5,33,676

 

Non-agricultural          1                   360             21,136

 

 

In 1978-79, there were 422 co-operative credit (308 agricultural and 114 non-agricultural) societies in the District.  Their functions are to mobilize the savings of their members and to advance loans to them at a very reasonable rate of interest from productive purposes.

The details pertaining to the working of the agricultural and non-agricultural co-operative credit societies in the District during 1972-73 to 1979-80 are given in Appendices I and II at pages 187 and 188 respectively.

(c)  Insurance and Small Savings

Insurance --- Before the nationalization of the life insurance business by the Government of India in 1956, a number of companies, covering life and other risks, were doing business in the District, though they had no regular office here. Only the agents and inspectors of these companies procured business for their respective insurance companies.

The first branch of the Life Insurance Corporation of India was opened in the District at Firozpur on 1 September 1956. Later on, it opened its branch at Abohar on 20 September 1958 to cater for the insurance needs of the people in the District. In order to intensify the drive for insurance in the rural areas, the Corporation appointed development officers and agents at different centres in the District.

Their branch-wise number, as on 31 March 1980, was as follows :

 

        Branch                          Number of              Number of

                                              Development          agents

                                              Officer

        Firozpur                           11                         137

 

        Abohar                             12                         101

 

 

 

The Life Insurance Corporation advance loans to the policy holders as well as to the Government and semi-Government concerns. It charge interest at the rate of 9 per cent and 11.5 per cent against policies and houses respectively.

The business secured by the Life Insurance Corporation of India in the District during 1972-73 to 1979-80 is given in Appendix III on page 189.

Before the nationalization of the general insurance companies on 1 January 1973, the Insurance Corporation had also started the general insurance business on 1 January 1964, in addition to life insurance. But after their nationalization, the general insurance companies emerged as an apex body, known as the General Insurance Corporation. Under this Corporation, the general insurance business is done by four companies, viz. the Oriental Fire and General Insurance Company Ltd., The New India Insurance Company Ltd., The National Insurance Company Ltd., and the United India Fire and General Insurance Company Ltd. According to the functioning of these companies, the general insurance policies of all types are issued for only one year and these are renewable every year. under the general insurance, the risks covered are  of three types, viz. fire, marine (transportation of goods), miscellaneous insurance. Miscellaneous insurance includes motor insurance, besides other types of insurance, each as fidelity guarantee, aviation insurance, burglary, personal accidents etc.

Small  Saving --- Small Saving is a scheme sponsored by the Central Government and is controlled by the Ministry of Finance (Department of Economic Affairs). The headquarter of the Head of the Department of National Savings Organization, i.e., the National Savings Commissioner for India, are at Nagpur. The scheme has been started to induce people to save. The funds, thus raised, are used for the development of  the country. In the States, the national Savings Organization is controlled by the Regional Director, National Saving, Government of India. In the Punjab, the Regional Director’s office is at Chandigarh. the Regional Director, National Savings (Government of India), Punjab, has under his four Assistant Regional Directors, National Savings, i.e. at Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Chandigarh. Generally, there is one District Savings Officer, national Savings Scheme, in each district but in some districts there are two.  In the Firozpur District, there is one District Savings Officer at Firozpur.

The Director, Small Savings, Punjab, Chandigarh, is the head of the State Government’s Small Savings Department. This Directorate has been set up to have better co-ordination between the Central Organization and the State Government. At the district level, the District Savings Officer is the co-ordinating agency between the Central Organization and the district authorities.

On 31 March 1980, there were  96 agents in the District, for convassing, and for propagating the Small Savings Scheme on commission basis. The gross and net investments of the Small Savings Scheme in the District during 1972-73 to 1979-80 are given :

 

Year                                                    Gross                          Net

                                                            Investment                Investment

                                                            (Rs)                             (Rs)

 

1972-73                                               2,79,66,000                 +42,74,000

1973-74                                               2,82,02,000                 +36,07,000

1974-75                                               3,83,72,000                 +86,98,000

1975-76                                               4,27,24,000                 -3,65,000

1976-77                                               3,03,70,000                 -73,33,000

1977-78                                               3,32,89,000                 +14,18,000

1978-79                                               4,48,84,000                 +135,79,000

1979-80                                               5,33,97,000                 +186,51,000

                                    (Source : District Savings Officers, Firozpur)

                                   

 

(d) Currency and Coinage

Before the introduction of the system of decimal coinage, the system of old coinage, inherited from the British, was in vogue. Under the old system, a rupee  was divided into 2 half-rupee coins (dheli or athanni), 4 quarters (pauli or choaani), 8 two-anna coins(duani) 16 annas, 32 takas, 64 paise and 192 pies.

Under the system of decimal coinage, started on 1 April 1957, a rupee consists of 100 consists of 100 paise, with different coins of the denominations of 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50 and paise. Currency notes are issued in the denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 rupees. The use of both old and new coins continued side by side up to 1 April 1964, after which the old system was entirely replaced by the new one. For some time, the people felt a little difficulty in transactions as they had been accustomed to counting according to the old system. But, in course of time, they became acquainted with the decimal system which is more convenient for transactions.

 

(B) Trade and Commerce

The Firozpur District has never been an industrial, although it importance as an agricultural tract has not been inconsiderable.  There was a lot of trading activity in agricultural produce but very little in industrial goods. The District had to meet its requirement, other than agricultural goods from outside.

Before the introduction of the railways into the District in the beginning of the twentieth century, the trade in it was concentrated at Friozpur and Fazilka. It was  carried on with country boats, as both the towns are situated very near the Satluj. But, with the opening up of the railways  the trade via the river almost came to an e3nd. The trade of  the District was concentrated in the numerous markets along the different railways, the most important of them being Firozpur, Fazilka and Abohar. There were also markets at Talwandi Bhai, Jalalabad, Guru Har Sahai and Zira, but these places did not flourish well. A good deal of the trade was also carried on by other markets, viz. Jagraon, Moga, Kot Kapura, Faridkot, Malaut and Muktsar.

Fazilka was renowned for its trade in wool, for which it formed an international market. Fazilka claims to be the largest wool mart in the Punjab. Besides, a large quantity from Bikaner, wool came here from the greater part of the Punjab. England’s patent press and two local presses, started by private enterprise, were used for balling the wool. After that it was forwarded to Liverpool, Kanpur and elsewhere. The gain trade also was quite considerable. Altogether, a good deal of goods were exported from Fazilka by the two railways the narrow-gauge line via Kot Kapura and Bathinda and the broad-gauge line via Macleod Ganj to Karachi. Fazilka was also the headquarter of a Central Co-operative Bank.

The partition of the country in 1947 placed the District on the Indo-Pak border. Both the important markets of the District, namely Firozpur and Fazilka, are quite near the border. The trade of the District, naturally, received a great set-back. However, with the passage of time, the position has improved to some extent. There are 10 regulated markets in the District for handling agricultural produce.

The principal items brought into the District are cloth (cotton), synthetic, woollen and silken), machinery of almost ever kind, karyana items, luxury, etc. The principal items sent out of its are foodgrains, wheat, rice, cotton, agricultural implements, etc.

 

(a) Course of Trade

The usual course of trade in the District is , as elsewhere from the producer to the consumer via the middlemen . There is no direct link between the producer and the consumer. The main types of middlemen are wholesalers, retailers and commission agents or arhtias.

Being an agricultural tract, the main trade of the District is agricultural produce, which is disposed of through the dealers, who are members of a regulated market committee. The bulk of the agricultural produce is brought to the nearby mandis and is sold to the traders, who mostly send it to other mandis by road or by rail. A few traders have  also opened their branches in the villages to procure the agricultural produce at cheaper rates. This procedure also helps the farmers who are saved from the botheration of brining the produce to the mandis. the District has a few big mandis at Makhu, Dharamkot , Talwandi Bhai, Firozpur, Fazilka, Abohar and Zira, where agricultural commodities are marketed on a large scale.

The District is known for the production of cotton, wheat, rice oilseeds, etc. it can be divided into various sectors as regards the production of major crops, viz. the riverine tract of the Firozpur and Zira tehsils for rice; the Zira Tehsil and parts of the Firozpur Tehsil for wheat and the Fazilka Tehsil for cotton. Abohar in the Failka Tehsil has emerged as an industrial town, with half a dozen cotton factories. Cultivation and trade of citrus fruit is also steadily developing in this town.

 

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