The history of 19th-century Calcutta is inseparable from the advent and expansion of one of India’s oldest industries—jute. A trend that started in Rishra in Hooghly district in 1855 soon spread to either side of the Hooghly river in southwest Bengal. In a span of five decades there were close to a hundred operating mills (employing over 3,00,000 workers by 1920), consuming more jute than the rest of the world put together. The requirement for sandbags in World War I further escalated the demand for jute.
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