chapter  5
28 Pages

Beyond the Walls: Commerce of Urban Expansion

By the late 1880s, Delhi had become a significant railroad terminus with three lines in operation connecting it to major cities in the subcontinent in the east, north-west, and south, and a fourth line was under construction. Industrial expansion was also evident in the steam flour mill, two spinning and weaving mill companies, and a number of cotton presses and iron foundries.2 Grain and textile piece goods were the staples of Delhi’s trade. Colonial policies carefully facilitated and nurtured budding entrepreneurship. Newly developed roads and railways increased the connections of the city to the region and accompanied a growth in industries. Agricultural reforms and changes in the structure of land ownership and taxes further motivated people to migrate from the countryside to the city. Together, they resulted in rapid commercial expansion as well as substantial increase in population by 12.3 percent between 1868 and 1881. Most of the increase was attributed to the city’s growing importance as a commercial center stimulated by the railroad (Figures 5.1 and 5.2).3