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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 3, p. 128.


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CHAPTER III
MINES AND MINERALS
The THE feature which stands out most prominently in a survey
peculiar th of the mineral industries of India is the fact that practically
develop- nothing has been done to develop those minerals which are
ment of essential to modem metallurgical and chemical industries,
Indian
minerals, while most striking progress has been made during recent
years in opening out deposits from which products are obtained
suitable for export, or for consumption in the country by what
may conveniently be called direct processes.
Decline of In this respect India of to-day stands in contrast to the
ancient India of a century ago. The European chemist, armed with
chemical
industries. cheap supplies of sulphuric acid and alkali, and aided by low
sea freights and increased facilities for internal distribution by
the spreading network of railways, has been enabled to stamp
out, in all but remote localities, the once flourishing native
manufactures of alum, the various alkaline compounds, blue
vitriol, copperas, copper, lead, steel and iron, and seriously to
curtail the export trade in nitre and borax. The high quality
of the native-made iron, the early anticipation of the processes
now employed in Europe for the manufacture of high-class
steels, and the artistic products in copper and brass gave the
country a prominent position in the ancient metallurgical world,
while as a chief source of nitre India held a position of peculiar
political importance until, less than forty years ago, the chemi-
cal manufacturer of Europe found, among his by-products,
cheaper and more effective compounds for the manufacture of
explosives.
Increase in WVith the spread of railways, the development of manufac-
mineral tures connected with jute, cotton, and paper, and the gradually
imports. extending use of electricity, the demand for metallurgical and
chemical products in India has steadily grown. Before long
the stage must be reached at which the variety and quantity of
products required, but now imported, will satisfy the condi-
tions necessary for the local production of those which can
be economically manufactured only for the supply of groups of
industries.



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