Cottage industries, village industries, small scale industries, handicrafts and large scale industries are the various terms which are used for different types of production works, according to their size and production.
When a worker produces something with his simple tools, with the help of his family members only, then he is said to be running a cottage industry. The absence of big machines, electric power and hired labor are the features of cottage industries. In our villages, we se workers spinning and weaving cloth. This is the main cottage industry of our country. Pottery, wood-work, metal-work, leather-work, basket-making, cursing of sugarcane, etc., are some other important handicrafts of our country.
The importance of cottage industries is very great for rural as well as urban area. In villages, farmers can carry on their cottages industries side by side with their main occupation of agriculture. They are important for them as they provide opportunities for party-time employment. In urban areas also the poor can start some cottages industries with their own limited resources. They are indispensable for a poor country like India.
In cottage industries the question o the exploitation of workers does not arise. The worker and his family being both the employer and the employee themselves, get all the earning from their business. Even if in some cases hired labors are employed, the relations between them and the employer remain healthy.
Big machines are labor saving devices. They are not used in cottage industries. So, if they are encouraged, more and more people get employed. Besides this, they are good means for providing part-time employment.
The tendency towards centralization is inherent in large scale industries. This leads to over-crowing and congestion in the towns. Children and women are employed in big industries. Corruption becomes rampant. But handicrafts solve all these problems. They are mostly run in homes of the workers. So the housing problem does not arise, other social ills are also removed.
Further, the independence of the worker is maintained. The work can be begun and stopped according to his convenience. no rigid-routine is necessary. So in cottage industries the workers enjoy a marked sense of freedom.
Cottages industries have to face many difficulties. They cannot compete with large factories. As the products of the cottage industries are the result of the labor of the workers, their cost remains high in comparison with that of the mill-made goods. Workers are mostly poor. Sometime, they find it difficult to get raw material and the necessary tools for their work. So these difficulties come in the way of the growth of handicrafts.
Some suggestion for the development of cottage industry may now be made. The filed of production for cottage and large scale industries should be specified. The competition between these two spheres of production should be replaced by co-operation. Credit facilities should be provided. This will enable the workers to purchase raw materials and tools. Facilities for marketing finished goods should be provided. The Government should undertake research work for making simple and cheap machines. This will be very helpful for the progress of cottage industries.
The government has always recognized the importance of cottage industries. It established the Cottage Industries Board, All India Khadi Development Board, and other such agencies for the production of handicrafts. A large sum has always been allotted for their development in th various Five Years Plans of the country. As a result, much progress has been made in this direction. Let us hope much more would be done ofr this small scale industries in times to come.