Introduction: It is paradoxical that although Sholapur is one of the most industrialised districts in Maharashtra, the district economy is mainly agrarian in character. In fact agriculture constitutes the most important segment of its economy from the point of view of employment as also its contribution to the State income. The paradox becomes more obvious when a student of economic history analyses the various aspects of the structure of the agrarian economy. It is noteworthy that agriculture, the most important segment of the economy, is extremely vulnerable to recurring famines and conditions of scarcity which frequent the district at least once in three years.

Traditionally Sholapur is recognised as a chronic famine area with about 85 per cent of its area being susceptible to conditions of scarcity. An average cultivator always lives under the spectre of famine and uncertainties of Nature, from which there is no escape except the providence itself. Traditionally a cultivator in the district is not very sensitive to his economic grief but is accustomed to view his lot with stubborn abandon and philosophic resignation. He keeps on hoping for a better crop or some access to fortune, which never comes, by which he will be enabled to bring about his economic revival. As a rule, he is badly fed, poorly housed and shabbily clothed. He is ruined by one season of drought and has no resources to fall back on. The last thing he thinks of is to resign any portion of his holding to maintain his family. The ordinary cultivator, though with a narrow range of intelligence, possesses manly qualities and meets with characteristic endurance the unkindly caprices of his climate and the hereditary burden of his debts, troubles which will drive a more imaginative race to despair. For him the apparent recklessness is often a necessity in the face of the uncertainty of the seasons.

These conditions of distress and grief have been traced since the fifteenth century. It is also agonising to note that about 85 per cent of the area in the district has been estimated to be vulnerable to famine or scarcity conditions. This proportion is the highest in the State of Maharashtra. [District Statistical Abstract, 1964-65, Bureau of Economics and Statistics.] The Fact Finding Committee on Famines appointed by the Government of Bombay also opined that the rainfall is extremely undependable in almost all the talukas of the district, and they are easily and frequently vulnerable to scarcity conditions. After a careful study of these affected areas in the context of the development programmes and irrigation schemes, the Committee decided that Sholapur must be declared as a chronic famine district.

It is, however, a redeeming feature of the economy of Sholapur that there has been a remarkable growth of industrialisation. Sholapur occupies an important place in the industrial map of Maharashtra and ranks fourth in the State as regards industrialisation. Sholapur city is a centre of cotton textile mills and powerloom industry which have earned it a reputation not only in the State but also in the entire western India. The textile industry and other ancillary industries as well as agro-industries form an important segment of the district economy as they provide employment to over 30,000 workers and contribute to the general prosperity of the city.

Besides the growth of industrialisation, there are other remarkable facts which should be considered in the context of the economic development of Sholapur district. The irrigation facilities available from the Nira Right Bank Canal have thrown open very good opportunities for the cultivation of sugarcane in the areas around Malshiras, Malinagar, Akluj, Borgaon, Chitalenagar and Natepute. A virtually revolutionary change in the economic face of these areas appears to have crystallised during the last about twenty years. The dry stretches of wilderness, which were frequented by ravaging famines, have been transformed into rich and luxuriant sugarcane plantation. These areas formerly presented a gloomy spectacle of uneconomic cultivation much below the subsistence level and very often exposed to famines and starvation. Human efforts in the form of irrigation facilities, however, have brought about unprecedented prosperity to the same areas. Hostile and capricious Nature is harnessed to the goal of economic development.

The economic trends in the district are described below in the context of the imbalance in the economic growth of the district. The imbalance may be conceived to be in respect of the prosperity of the sugarcane-growing belt, the utter backwardness of the traditionally famine-stricken areas, and the growth of industrialisation in Sholapur and Barshi.

Agrarian Economy : The pattern of land utilisation has an important bearing on the functional aspects of the agrarian economy since it throws a light on the manner in which scarce land is utilised for productive purposes. The trend in land utilisation in Sholapur district since 1938-39 is quite conspicuous, and it brings home the fact that, though much remains still to be desired, the pattern has shown a progressive trend. More and more land is brought under cultivation, probably by reclamation of culturable waste and fallow lands. This statement becomes evident from the fact that cultivable waste land including fallow land was about 12.75 per cent of the total geographical area of the district in 1938-39, but it declined to 11.60 per cent in 1948-49, to 10.20 in 1957-58, to 7.40 in 1967-68 and to 3.74 in 1970-71. The net area sown in the district which was about 75 per cent of the total geographical area in 1938-39, increased to about 76.5 per cent in 1948-49 and further increased to 78.25 per cent in 1957-58, while the year 1967-68 recorded a decline to 77.70 per cent and to 74.38 per cent in 1971-72. The decline in the net area might be due to certain incidental factors. It is, however, evident that the set area sown showed a rising trend ever since 1938-39. It is also interesting to note that the double-cropped area in the district registered a rising trend as it increased from 1.3 per cent of the total geographical area in 1938-39 to 1.75 per cent in 1948-49, to 1.87 per cent in 1957-58 and further to 3.25 per cent in 1967-68, while the year 1971-72 recorded a little decline to 3.04 per cent.

The decline in the proportion of cultivable waste land as mentioned above is remarkable from the point of view of the agricultural economy of the district. It is also suggestive of the fact that there is a limited scope for extensive cultivation, since the bulk of the unutilised land is either waste land composed of very shallow soil which is also susceptible to severe erosion. Prudence demands that the area under the grasslands and forests should not be encroached upon, while reclamation of shallow soil and eroded wastes is ordinarily difficult. The extension of cultivation at this stage requires unusual enterprise, planned efforts, and large investments the returns of which become available only in the long run. The individual tiller has hardly any of these three requisites. Agricultural cultivation will have therefore to be increased through development of irrigation facilities, adoption of hybrid seeds, chemical fertilisers, pesticides and plant protection measures.

The trend of cultivation of different crops from 1880-81 to 1960-61 as revealed in Table No. 2, though not very consistent, suggests a number of interesting facts about the pattern of cropping in the district. The area under food-crops registered a substantial increase in 1950-51 and 1960-61, while the year 1972-73 registered a slow decline. However, the increase in area under non-food crops was much higher than that under food-crops. In fact non-food crops registered a steep rise from 1940-41 onwards. Jowar, the most important staple crop of the district, showed a consistent trend as the area under this crop increased over the entire period under study, except that there was a fall in area since 1967-68. The change in pattern of crops is more conspicuous in respect of sugarcane. This crop has an important bearing on the prosperity of the Malshiras taluka which was formerly a famine-stricken area. Sugarcane cultivation which was made possible by the construction of the Nira Right Bank. Canal has changed the economic face of the Malshiras taluka. It has given rise to a number of gur factories and sugar factories as well as a few ancillary industries.

It is interesting to study the trend in the out-turn of crops in this district. The statistics of out-turn, as given in table No. 1 corroborate the fact that the production of almost all principal crops showed remarkable increase since 1938-39. The increase in production of sugarcane and jowar is more conspicuous than that in other crops.

Crop-yields are a measure of both agricultural efficiency and production technique in use within the limitations of the soil and climatic factors. The yield of crops per acre enhanced in many cases after the implementation of the Five-Year Plans. The increase is particularly remarkable in regard to sugarcane and jowar. Table No. 3 gives the statistics of yield per hectare in respect of principal crops in the district.

The per-capita gross value of agricultural output in Sholapur district marked an upward trend since 1959. It is also quite remarkable that the per-capita gross value of agricultural output which was 197 in 1961-62 in the district compared very favourably with the corresponding rate (viz., 192) for the Pune Division. [Socio-Economic Review, Sholapur District, 1967-68.]

It is a matter of observation that the crop pattern and yield rates are evolved according to the soils and climate, but do not ensure the maximum land use. It is true that in the process the economy has come to be highly tilted in favour of commercial crops. This might appear to be unsound in view of the present food situation and the stress on regional self-sufficiency. However, this trend in favour of commercial crops may be regarded as conducive to the further growth of the agricultural economy and to the improvement in the economic conditions of the average farmer.

While the average farmer in the district, as elsewhere in the country, is proverbially tradition-bound, and while his implements are tradition-oriented, quite a large number of the progressive cultivators has adopted improved implements. Government propaganda has contributed immensely in changing the outlook towards the use of implements. It is however observed that the introduction of new and improved implements should not be hasty but only gradual which will leave enough time to judge their efficacy. A few remarks on the scope of mechanization will be relevant. Full mechanization is feasible under conditions of uniform soils, extensive holdings and similar crops and methods of cultivation. These conditions do not obtain in Sholapur district. However, the possibility of introducing small and simple machines and mechanized tools is not ruled out. Even this limited mechanization is in a large measure beyond the means of an average cultivator. The shallowness of soil in the larger part of the district further reduces the advisability of tractor ploughing and forces the farmer to take recourse to bullock ploughing.

It is gratifying to note that inspite of the impulsive indifference of the agriculturists towards manuring, there has been greater and greater appreciation of the urgency of manuring for soil rejuvenation. With the increase in irrigation facilities the utilisation of available manures has recorded a progressive trend. Besides farmyard manure, the soil fertilizers normally in use in the district are oil-cake, green manure, compost manure, sulphate of ammonia, phosphates and organic mixtures.

It is a matter of gratification that this traditionally famine-stricken and semi-arid district is showing signs of agrarian rejuvenation since the beginning of economic planning. The enlightenment among the agriculturists coupled with the persuasive influence of progressive measures by the Government is also instrumental in reducing the impulsive indifference on the part of an average cultivator. He has now come to realise that progressive methods of cultivation are an imperative necessity of the day for his economic emancipation.

The Government of Maharashtra have also made the right beginning in regard to various schemes of improving the technique of agricultural production. They have appointed a number of experts in charge of various activities, who are continuously at work to better the conditions in the spheres in which they are engaged. The experts in the line include the Agricultural Development Officer, Soil Chemist, Pest Control Officer, Soil Conservation Officer, Cotton Development Officer, Sugarcane Development Officer and many others. Though the activities of these experts are confined to their specialised fields, the executive machinery of the Zilla Parishad and the Agriculture Department co-ordinates their working. This can be said to be a modest beginning on the lines of rural extension services in the advanced countries. As more knowledge and experience will be gained, it is hoped that this limited organisation dealing with agricultural development and reconstruction will develop in coverage and effectiveness in the years to come.

The agrarian economy of the district is going through a process which is popularly styled as the " green revolution". The State Government has staked considerable financial resources and organisational efforts for the initiation and realisation of the fruits of the revolution. This process has generated unprecedented enthusiasm among the agriculturists. As a matter of fact the very slogan of the " green revolution" has a deep impact on the outlook of the agriculturists.

A number of measures have been initiated as a part of the programme of development. These measures include propagation of hybrid seeds, improved strains of seeds, manuring, scientific rotation, pest control, better cultural practices and expansion of irrigation schemes. A considerable organisational set-up, as stated earlier, has also been established for the implementation of the programmes.

It should however be admitted that the much-publicised " green revolution " appears more " pale " than " green " while its fruits are still not within the reach of the agriculturists. An individual cultivator suffers from innumerable handicaps, and his capacity to invest in the necessary inputs is extremely limited. He has necessarily to depend for the same on institutional help such as that from co-operative societies and the Government. In the very nature of things institutional help is not available readily and timely. The various inputs are so costly that an individual cultivator can hardly afford them.

Under the circumstances as they are, the inevitable follows that the results of the " green revolution " are more tangible to the well-to-do cultivators than the poor among them. The well-to-do cultivators have the means required by way of inputs for improvement in their land. They are also found to respond readily to the adoption of hybrid seeds and scientific means of cultivation, while the poor cultivators have always to rely upon institutional help for adoption of scientific methods.

Irrigation: Sholapur is essentially a district more susceptible to famine where rainfall is inadequate, uncertain and irregular. Irrigation is therefore the most important single factor contributing substantially to agrarian improvement. It is only after assessing how far human ingenuity and efforts have been rationally applied to the development of irrigation that the possibilities of future improvement can be exactly indicated.

The cause of limited progress in this direction in the past was partly because the alien government before Independence judged projects and works by their revenue-earning capacity rather than by their protective and developmental value. The scanty rainfall and the limited sub-soil water reserves also condition the wide-spread use of wells for irrigation. The use of tanks for the purpose has also limited applicability as not enough water accumulates in them during the monsoon. For this reason and because of the lack of resources of the farmers a number of wells and tanks have been filled or silted up.

The construction of the Nira Right Bank Canal in 1937-38 is an important landmark in the history of economic development of the district. The canal opened innumerable opportunities and initiated a programme of agrarian development in the otherwise famine-stricken and semi-arid area in the district. With the opening of this canal, there has been an increase in the area under perennial irrigation, and especially under sugarcane and food-grains. This has resulted in the rise in the general standard of living, and also in development of agro-industries and local trade. This canal which traverses through the Malshiras as well as Pandharpur and Sangola talukas is provided with the most modern means of measuring, controlling and regulating the water-supply. [For details of irrigation works refer Chapter 4-Agriculture and Irrigation.]

There has been a very remarkable progress in the district as regards irrigation during the period of about eighty years. This becomes evident from the statistics of net area irrigated from the period beginning with 1890-91.



Area in acres




















(Area in acres)







Total area of crops irrigated.






Percentage of total area irrigated to total area sown.






Area irrigated by canals.






Area irrigated by wells.






The agrarian economy of the district awaits a bright future in the construction of the Bhima River Project at Ujani which is under progress. The work of construction of the project was started in 1969 at an estimated cost of Rs. 6200 lakhs, of which an expenditure of Rs. 1165 lakhs was planned to be incurred by the end of the Fourth Plan. A provision of Rs. 3600 lakhs has been made during the Fifth Plan. The project is estimated to extend irrigation facilities to about 2,76,000 acres of land in Sholapur. The principal beneficiaries of the scheme will be the talukas of Pandharpur, Mohol, South Sholapur, North Sholapur, Malshiras, Mangalwedha and Madha. Besides the Bhima project, the Hingani (Pangaon) medium irrigation project has been undertaken at an estimated cost of Rs. 167.97 lakhs. Of this, an expenditure of Rs. 43.90 lakhs was to be incurred during the Fourth Plan period. A provision of Rs. 120 lakhs has been made during the Fifth Plan for this medium irrigation project. It will extend irrigation facilities to about 20,000 acres in Barshi taluka.

With the completion of the Bhima Project and a number of minor irrigation schemes, the irrigation potential in the district is expected to expand immensely. In the nature of things, that will mean a spectacular progress. The water-thirsty land over the large part of the district is sure to witness green pastures and luxuriant cultivation in times to come.

Expenditure and achievements during Third Five-Year Plan : The implementation of plan schemes was done at three different levels, viz., State level, Divisional level and District level. During the Third Plan (April 1961 to March 1966), 72 District level schemes were implemented under different heads of development. Table No. 4 gives the statistics of Plan provision, actual expenditure on the State level and District level schemes as well as the percentage of expenditure to the Plan outlay during the Third Plan in the district.

As it could be expected, agriculture was accorded the highest priority during the Plan and accounted for about 54.7 per cent of the total expenditure on Plan schemes. In fact the planned outlay on agriculture was about 57.6 per cent of the total Plan provision. The shortfall in respect of actual expenditure might be due to technical difficulties in the execution of the schemes. Co-operation and community development was second only to agriculture in respect of allocation of funds and accounted for 19.1 per cent of the total expenditure over the Plan period. Social services were allocated about Rs. 117.39 lakhs. Industry and mining received about 7.7 per cent of the total expenditure, while transport and communications were accorded a low priority.

Of the total expenditure, nearly 65.4 per cent was in the State sector and the remaining, viz., 34.6 per cent in the local sector.

The agrarian development programme under the Plan laid more emphasis on increasing the productivity of agriculture by developing irrigation, soil conservation, propagation and distribution of fertilisers and improved seeds. The order of priority was set in a manner congenial to increasing productivity of land. The total expenditure incurred over the various agricultural development schemes was distributed as given in table No. 5.

It is interesting to note that the ratio of the expenditure on agricultural programmes to the net area sown in the district was about Rs. 16 per acre, while the corresponding ratio for Pune Division was Rs. 15. The higher ratio for the district could be attributed to the fact that the recurring famines and conditions of scarcity in the district warrant higher financial allocation.

It is important to evaluate the physical achievements under the various sub-heads of development, the actual expenditure on which is mentioned earlier. The achievements under the Plan schemes in respect of agricultural production consisted mainly of distribution of improved seeds, chemical fertilisers, improved implements, plant protection measures and development of horticulture. There were eleven schemes under operation during the Plan. The performance of some of the important schemes can be judged from table No. 6.

It is evident from the above statistics that remarkable progress was achieved in respect of compost production and distribution of chemical fertilisers under subsidised distribution scheme. The distribution of chemical fertilisers was intensified during the Third Plan period, and 12,004 tons of chemical fertilisers were distributed in the district through the local co-operative societies. Under the scheme of planned production of long staple cotton, 413 quintals of seed were distributed to the cultivators. With a view to supply improved seeds of good quality to the cultivators ten seed multiplication farms were established in the district. Government also distributed 14,916 quintals of improved seeds during the Plan period.

In addition to the above, the other schemes of anti-locust and plant protection, and Grow More Food Campaign were also implemented which registered a remarkable progress in the district.

In order to eradicate the evils of excessive fragmentation and subdivision of agricultural holdings which seriously hamper the progress in agriculture, the work of consolidation of holdings was regulated by a law in this district. Under this scheme many villages were covered during the Third Five-Year Plan.

This district is one of the scarcity-affected districts of the State. It has about 24 lakhs of acres having shallow and medium type of soil. During the Third Five-Year Plan an area of 5.91 lakh acres was covered under the scheme of soil conservation. The following minor irrigation schemes, which were undertaken during the Second Plan period, were completed during the Third Plan. They included (1) Mangi Tank in Karmala taluka, (2) Sapatane Tank in Madha taluka, (3) Chincholi Tank in Sangola taluka and (4) Vairag Tank in Barshi taluka.

In addition to these schemes, two schemes, namely, construction of an irrigation tank at Junoni and another tank at Achakdani, both in Sangola taluka, were started at the end of the Third Five-Year Plan and completed during the Fourth Plan. The Junoni and Achakdani tanks, the construction of which was started in 1965, have an irrigation potential of about 287 acres and 490 acres, respectively. The Plan programme also included construction of 5,835 new wells, repairs to 1,914 old wells and distribution of 3,399 pumping sets.

The number of wells in use in the district at the end of the Second Plan was 47,902. It is remarkable to note that the minor irrigation schemes in the district created an irrigation potential to the tune of 45,707 acres.

Under the animal husbandry programme, Government distributed loans to the tune of Rs. 2.40 lakhs for improving cattle-breeding in the district. It was quite in the fitness of things that since Sholapur district is very famous for the Khilar breed of cattle, the planning authorities provided matching veterinary facilities for the benefit of the cattle-breeders in Sangola and Pandharpur talukas. Besides the existing twelve veterinary hospitals and thirty aid centres, three dispensaries and a few aid centres were opened during the Plan.

The physical achievements in respect of dairy development, poultry, fisheries and forests were also of a considerable magnitude though not spectacular.

The planning authorities also implemented a vigorous programme of development of the co-operative movement which was charged with important functions such as provision of agricultural inputs, credit and marketing of agricultural produce. The measures included inter alia share capital contribution to the apex institutions, grant of management subsidy for vitalisation, grants to service co-operatives and financial accommodation to the District Central Co-operative Bank and the Land Development Bank in order to enable them to play a vital role in strengthening the co-operative movement in the district. It is remarkable to note that as many as 277 new co-operative societies including agricultural credit societies, co-operative farming societies, processing societies, handloom weavers' co-operative societies and industrial co-operatives were formed during the Plan period. The agricultural credit societies in the district advanced loans to the tune of Rs. 14,66.58 lakhs during the Third Plan period.

The programme of industrial development during the Third Five-Year Plan was restricted mainly to the growth of cottage industries, especially the handloom weaving industry. The growth of these industries was sought mainly through the formation of co-operatives. The physical achievement in respect of transport and communications included modernisation of a road-length of 28 miles, construction of culverts, and construction of roads of the length of 32 miles under the rural roads programme.

District plan: The experience in planning during the last two decades has helped Government to formulate need-based and dynamic policies for all-round development. Self-reliance and self-sufficiency have been the key-notes of the recent planning policies. It was therefore considered necessary to achieve greater and intimate participation of the people in the preparation and execution of the Fifth Five-Year Plan. In pursuance to this policy, the district has been taken to be the basic unit of planning, and District Planning Boards have been constituted in each district for formulation of the District Plans in conformity with the National and State approach to the Fifth Plan having regard to the Minimum Needs Programme, the Fifteen Points Programme and the requirements of the district within the framework of the district allocations.

The District Planning Board [The District Planning Board, Sholapur, consists of twelve members, of which three are non-official members. The Chief Executive Officer of the Zilla Parishad acts as the Member-Secretary. The District Development Consultative Council, Sholapur, consists of twenty-five members in addition to the representatives from, the fields of industry, trade, universities and social welfare institutions.] and the District Consultative Council have been established for the Sholapur district. In order that the Plan should be realistic and representative of the needs of various sections and areas, and in order to bring about a consistent development in all sectors, representatives of the people have been fully associated with the modus operandi of planning. The suggestions in this respect were invited from the official and non-official agencies in the district and the State sector.

The District Planning Board set up five sub-committees to study in detail the schemes received from the various departments, members of the District Development Consultative Council and other sources to finalise its recommendations for the consideration of the Planning Board.

In addition to the allocations from the State Plan, steps were taken for mobilisation of local and institutional resources and also to avail of assistance from the Central Government for Central sector schemes for all-round development of 1he district. The size of the Plan from all resources was fixed at Rs. 173,62.50 lakhs including institutional finance of Rs. 102,52.69 lakhs, plan allocation from the State of Rs. 61,87 lakhs, Central assistance of Rs. 862.81 lakhs and resources of the local bodies Rs. 60.00 lakhs.

In the District Plan high priority has been given for agricultural development including creation of additional irrigation potential, creation of employment potential, rural electrification, etc. Similarly due consideration has been given to the welfare schemes such as education, provision of health services, water-supply, development of roads and other social services.

The Plan allocation to the Fifth Plan of the district from the State Government is to the tune of Rs. 61.87 crores. Table No. 7 gives outlay of the Fifth Plan and the Annual Plan for 1974-75 of the district.

Industrialisation: Sholapur is one of the most industrialised cities in Maharashtra, while the district ranks fourth as regards industrialisation in the State. The importance of Sholapur city as a centre of industry is a historical accident, and it gained a commercial bias with the growth of British rule. The opening of the Bombay-Madras railway line in 1863 further stimulated its growth. But the development of the textile industry since the closing years of the last century has changed the face of the city beyond all recognition. It now ranks as the fifth leading city of western India, and has now outgrown its original limits. The growth of the textile industry has created a large class of industrial workers. Slums have followed in its wake. Industry dependent on the cotton tracts of Bijapur and Gulbarga, local labour, and the finance from Bombay, has shoved other economic functions in the background, and the city has therefore the distinction of being the most prominent city in the State having a predominantly industrial bias, with the exception of Greater Bombay.

It is interesting to note that the industrial landscape of Sholapur city owes much to the finance from Bombay, raw materials from the cotton-growing tracts as noted above, and labour supply from the district as well as adjoining districts. The Sholapur industry also creates a unity in economic interests by causing a steady flow of labour from the rural areas to the city; it also sells its products to these areas. The development of roads and railways make Sholapur a nerve-centre with an economic hold over the hinterland.

Cotton textile is the most important organised industry at Sholapur, the origin of which dates back to 1877. At present there are eight cotton mills, and a number of small factories manufacturing bed-sheets for which Sholapur is famous not only in Maharashtra but also in the entire western India. Besides the modern textile mills, there are numerous power-loom as well as hand-loom weaving industrial units which are less capital-intensive but more employment-oriented. All these organised and un-organised textile units can be said to form a textile industrial complex which is next in size to the Bombay industry.

It may be observed that location of the cotton textile mills at Sholapur is a historical accident, and is inexplicable in terms of the economics of location of industries. The finance and entrepreneurship for the industry is mostly of Bombay origin. Sholapur also is not endowed with the availability of raw cotton in its near vicinity. Most of the raw cotton is procured from Ahmadnagar, Bijapur, Gulbarga and Dharwar areas. The climate of Sholapur which is almost dry and devoid of moisture is also not congenial for the cotton spinning industry. In fact the only factor in favour of the growth of the industry at Sholapur is the availability of cheap labour and the existence of a large class of hand-loom weavers.

It is also a matter of observation that this old and organised industry has not shown any signs of growth or progress during the last about quarter of a century. The industry as such is almost stagnant if not declining. While not a single textile mill was established during the last many years, a mill at Sholapur was closed in 1957. The closed mill was subsequently brought under Government administration and put into operation in order to provide employment to the otherwise unemployed workers. There is however no statistical data required for the investigation of the reasons of stagnation of the industry at Sholapur.

Sugar and gur industries also occupy a very important position in the industrial landscape as well as the general economy of the district. In fact the present prosperity of the areas of Malshiras, Akluj, Malinagar, Chitalenagar and Akkalkot is attributed mainly to these industries. These areas formerly suffered from frequent famines and conditions of acute scarcity, but are now reverberating with economic prosperity. There are, at present, five sugar factories, of which two are in the co-operative sector. In the nature of things the sugar factories are production-oriented, and encourage the cultivation of sugarcane which has contributed immensely to the prosperity of the cultivators. All these factories are of recent origin, and their production of sugar amounted to 6,71,792 quintals in 1969-70. The following statistics show the trend of production of sugar, amount of excise revenue earned by Government and the value and volume of sugar exports from the Sholapur circle:-


Production of sugar (quintals)

Excise revenue (Rs.)

Quantity (quintals)


















The above statistics speak volumes about the importance of the sugar industry, both from the point of view of production, and excise earnings of the Government. Gur manufacturing is also an important industry with 41 registered factories and a number of unregistered units in the district. Most of the gur factories were established after 1939-40, especially after the fifties. This can be attributed to the fact that sugarcane cultivation was facilitated after the construction of the Nira Right Bank Canal in 1937-38.

It is expected that with the completion of the Bhima irrigation project, a huge area of agricultural land will come under sugarcane cultivation. This will encourage the further growth of the sugar as well as gur manufacturing industry.

A study of industrial development of Sholapur district reveals a paradox that while Sholapur city, Barshi town and the sugarcane-growing areas in Malshiras taluka are developed industrially, the rest of the district is almost undeveloped. The industrial growth in the developed areas did not lead to the diffusion of entrepreneurial activities in the rest of the areas. Even the development of agro-industries, which is an evidence of the initial phase of industrialisation, has not found a beginning in these areas.

The lack of industrialisation in the under-developed areas in the district is attributable to the following factors:-Firstly, these areas are lacking in respect of the necessary infra-structure and economic over-heads. Secondly, these areas do not provide any of the advantages which are characteristic of the localisation of industries. One, however, cannot, fail to notice the fact that while the economy of the district is mainly agrarian in character it does not provide the agro-based raw materials required for development, of industries. Thirdly, the advantages of internal economies as well as external economies are conspicuous by their absence.

The rural as well as semi-urban localities in the district generally lack in adequate transport, communications, power, water-supply and other facilities. Development of various types of agricultural and agro-industrial activities would therefore be facilitated if effective steps are taken to provide these facilities. The existing roads are qualitatively poor, unmetalled and unsuitable for all-weather traffic which results in the under-utilisation of the existing agro-resources. Rural electrification, which is under way in the district, will have a vital bearing on the process of accelerating the industrial development of the rural areas and it is urgently necessary to bring all the areas within the jurisdiction of the electricity grid.

In view of the unique importance of agro-industries in the economy of the district as in that of other districts in the State, the Maharashtra Government has adopted the ' Package Scheme of Incentives for Dispersal of Industries'. The concessions and incentives to underdeveloped areas under the ' Package Scheme ' will encourage development of processing industries and ancillary industries on the periphery and under-developed areas in the district.

Availability of sufficient surplus agricultural and allied produce at reasonable prices is indeed a spring-board for the rapid and sustained development of various resource-based industries. The growth of these industries therefore demands well-thought out, planned and effective measures to step up substantially the productivity of agriculture and thereby to augment the surplus required for the growth of processing and manufacturing industries. In this context it is worthwhile to suggest that commercial crops such as sugarcane, ground-nut and cotton should be accorded a definite priority in the development effort in the district. In the interest of the agro-industrial development of the district it is necessary to facilitate development of the sugar industry and to explore the possibilities of utilising the bye-products such as molasses, bagasse and cane wax to greater advantage.

The Master Plan of Industrialisation in Bombay State (1960), prepared by the State Government, made some valuable suggestions for the expansion of industrialisation in Sholapur district. The Master Plan suggested that, in view of the ample supply of waste cotton, Sholapur city would be an ideal place for establishing cotton waste spinning plants of 1,200 spindles capacity to produce yarn of lower counts. Being a centre of the hand-loom and power-loom industry, there is a huge demand at Sholapur in respect of preparatory processes like sizing, dyeing, bleaching, finishing, mercerising and printing, which are carried out mostly through outside agencies. The authors of the Master Plan therefore suggested a- suitable processing plant capable of meeting the requirements of the wearing establishments, especially for their finishing operations.

In the nature of things, the Master Plan recommended that the areas benefited by irrigation furnished good potentialities for further development of the sugar industry. Sufficient expansion of the existing productive capacity of the sugar mills was also thought necessary. The authors of the Master Plan also visualised that Sholapur district offers bright prospects for the development of plants for manufacturing surgical cotton, industrial alcohol, and solvent extraction of oil-cake.

In the context of the review of economic trends, it is interesting to study the pattern of growth and decline in the number of factories and factory employment in the district. Such a study was made by the Maharashtra Economic Development Council for the years 1956 and 1965. The statistics relating to the same are furnished in table No. 8.

The most striking fact about the industrial trends in the district is that the cotton textile industry which is by far the largest organised industry in Sholapur is showing signs of decline. This observation is corroborated by the fact that employment in this industry declined by about 10,000 in 1965 over that in 1956. As stated earlier, one of the big textile mills was closed, but re-started by the Government subsequently with the motive to provide employment to the distressed workers. The other textile mills also appear to have stagnated during the last about a decade. This stagnation is mainly attributable to the conditions of general slump in the cotton textile industry in the district. The general conditions of slump are usually explained in terms of the fall in demand for cotton fabrics as against synthetic fabrics, as also in terms of the rise in the price of raw cotton and wage-rates.

The power-loom weaving industry is, however, showing signs of revival under State patronage. The hand-loom industry which is also a recipient of State patronage is struggling for existence and may thrive in the future with substantial aid from Government as well as the co-operative sector.

It is also a matter of observation that the gur manufacturing industry in the district declined to some extent between 1956 and 1965 and resulted in unemployment of over 500 workers. The decline in the gur industry has, however, been compensated by an impressive growth in the sugar industry which has been instrumental in initiating an era of prosperity in the sugarcane belt in the district. It is also noteworthy that the growth or decline of the gur industry in a particular year is always a temporary phenomenon, and can generally be explained in terms of the price of sugarcane offered by the sugar factories as well as the conditions of demand for sugar and gur.

Table No. 9 gives the statistical information of factories, number of workers and man-days worked in Sholapur district during 1971.

A study of trends in industrialisation will not be complete without a mention of the industrial estates which are of recent origin. In their very nature industrial estates are congenial for the growth of small-scale industries. They provide the requisite facilities and institutional help but for which growth of new small factories would have become quite difficult. It is therefore significant to mention that there are two industrial estates in the district, one in Sholapur city and other in Barshi, which promise a better future for small industries.

Co-operative movement: Co-operative movement has been one of the most important aspects of the economic life of the people after Independence. At the dawn of Independence the movement was just in an embryonic stage, but subsequently made a phenomenal progress in Sholapur district. The co-operative super-structure in the district always got a benefit of a cadre of co-operative social workers who guided and shaped the institutional frame-work. This is more evident in the domain of co-operative sugar factories and the power-loom and hand-loom industry. As a matter of fact the two co-operative sugar factories are an excellent testimony to the long strides made by the co-operative movement. A number of processing industries have also developed under the co-operative fold. It may not be unrealistic to say that the future of the agro-industries would be shaped mainly by the co-operative movement in the district.

The co-operative sector has played an important role in the fields of credit for agricultural development, supply of agricultural inputs and disposal of farm produce. [For details of the co-operative societies of various categories, refer to the Section on Co-operative Movement in Chapter 6 above.] There is a net-work of multi-purpose societies and service co-operatives which cater to the various needs of the agriculturist in the district. They serve as an agency for the distribution of seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides and improved implements which are extremely necessary for improvement in agriculture. A number of co-operative lift irrigation societies are established in the district which have contributed to the expansion of irrigation facilities.

Co-operative marketing societies, which are quite large in number in the district, play an effective role in the marketing of agricultural produce. They act as general commission agents in regulated markets and throw their weight on regulation of marketing to the advantage of the agriculturist. They also play an important role in stabilisation of prices of agricultural produce.

The phenomenal growth of the co-operative movement in the district during the last about sixty years can be judged from the following statistics:-








Number of societies












Share-capital (Rs.)



N. A.


N. A.

Working capital (Rs.)






Loans advanced (Rs.)

N. A.

N. A.




N. A. = Not available.

However, the co-operative movement in the district as elsewhere suffers from a number of drawbacks and malpractices but for which it would have served a wider socio-economic purpose, It suffers from a number of structural defects and managerial drawbacks which are beyond the scope of this study.

Transport: Sholapur district is well provided as regards railway transport. The Bombay-Madras railway route traverses through the district, while there are two more feeder lines which emanate from the main artery of trade at Kurduwadi and Sholapur. The district has thus the benefit of 280.60 miles of railway line at present. It is noteworthy that after completion of the proposed Sholapur-Aurangabad broad gauge line the district will have an adequate railway system which will encourage further growth of industries and commerce.

As regards roads in the past it could be observed that the British Government which had invested large amounts of capital in railways regarded roads as a rival transport system affecting railway revenue, and so the development of roads in themselves came to be neglected. The road system in the district consisted of trunk routes which often ran parallel to railway lines and feeder roads linking with railway stations. Except the trunk roads, the remaining net-work of roads was primitive and did not receive appreciable funds for maintenance,

After the beginning of the era of planning, a number of existing roads were repaired and improved, while quite a few new roads were constructed. The pace of road development gathered momentum especially after the implementation of the Nagpur Plan under which a road-length of about 3,800 kilometres was proposed for Sholapur district. As a part of the development under the Nagpur Plan a number of new roads were constructed and existing roads were improved. However the. target of road construction under the Plan has not been fulfilled in the district. In the nature of things it is imperative on the part of Government to undertake a phased programme of road development in the developing areas in Malshiras, Madha, Karmala, Pandharpur and Barshi talukas. Such a programme will facilitate development of agro-industries and will remove the impediments to the smooth flow of goods traffic.

Price treads: The earliest statistics of prices in Sholapur district pertain to the period beginning with 1821. These statistics reveal that the prices of millets which formed the staple food of the district were amazingly low. A common man in the present days may be driven to believe that since the price of jowar was 104 pounds per rupee in 1828, the conditions of living in those good old days might be very happy. Such a belief would only exhibit the tendency in all ages and in all countries to magnify the good and minimise the evil of the past. However an empirical study of prices giving credence to all the economic variables gives a lie to such a myth. While prices were low, so were the incomes. The none-too-happy conditions of living which appear to exist in the present times could also be regarded as the relics of those " good old days ". The price trends in the district are presented below in the above perspective.

The account of prices during the period 1821 to 1883, as published in the former edition of the Sholapur District Gazetteer of 1884, is furnished in table No. 10.

The supplementary to the Sholapur District Gazetteer (1926) has also furnished the statistics of prices at Sholapur city, which are given in table No. 11.

Table No. 12 gives the statistics of prices which are based on the annual average prices of certain commodities furnished in the Statistical Atlas of Bombay State (1950). [ Bureau of, Economics and Statistics, Government of Bombay.] The entire period from 1924 to 1947 is divided into five periods, viz., pre-depression period (1924-1929), depression period (1930 to 1934), post-depression period (1935-1938), war period (1939-1945) and post-war period (1946-47). The average prices given below are therefore the average tor the period, and are based on the yearly average prices. The grouping of years into periods is conceived to correspond with the grouping commonly accepted by economic historians, though the grouping of the years as between depression and post-depression periods has been adopted to the economic conditions in the district.

The prices of agricultural produce and necessary goods in the district, set a rising trend in 1924 which was in consonance with the national trend of prices. This phenomenon of rising prices could be explained in the context of the milder boom in the international commodity markets. The prosperity of the British industry and commerce also found its reflections in promoting prosperous conditions and rising prices in the Indian markets. This picture of rising prices was reflected in Sholapur district as well, and the level of prices as it obtained in 1924 almost stabilised till the dawn of the Great Depression of 1930.

As it becomes obvious from table No. 12 of prices, the average wholesale prices in the pre-depression period (1924-1929) in the district were much higher than those during the post-war period between 1918 and 1921. The average wholesale prices however slumped down to a precariously low level during the depression period (1930-1934). In case of certain commodities the prices dropped down in the depression period to 50 to 60 per cent of those in the pre-depression period.

It is common knowledge that the process of economic revival set in during 1934-35 in the case of the national economy. As an effect of the economic revival, the prices of almost all commodities started rising in the country as a whole. But as it is evident from the statistics of prices in the district that the revival of prices in Sholapur district was not so very conspicuous even during the post-depression period of 1935-1938. The low level of prices in the district might be due to local conditions which cannot be explained in terms of known facts.

The behaviour of prices in the district during the war period (1939-1945) was almost in harmony with that in the country as a whole. During this period prices of all manufactured articles and agricultural commodities rose to unprecedented high levels. In the nature of things, the prices of manufactured articles rose more steeply than those of agricultural produce.

Contrary to expectations the end of the World War II in August 1945 was not followed by any downward trend in prices. In fact, prices continued to rise, though with a slow pace. This might be due to the continuation of the inflationary pressure generated during the War.

There was comparative stability of prices before the beginning of Korean War. The out-break of Korean War (June 1950) however brought about a great upsurge in prices. The prices of food-grains were virtually steady, but those of industrial raw materials and manufactured goods as well as miscellaneous articles registered a considerable rise. The price rise could be explained by the war situation which created a sudden burst of demand arising out of a rush for stock-piling of essential goods.

The gradual decline in prices following the end of the Korean War in the middle of 1951 was arrested after March 1952. The general trend of prices during 1952-53 was relatively free from fluctuations. During 1953-54 also, prices remained fairly steady and recorded only a marginal rise. This period of relative steadiness in prices was followed again by a resumption of the downward trend in 1954-55. The prices continued to be low throughout the year, while the price level in March 1955 was lower than that in March 1952. The downward trend was reverted in 1955-56, which meant an initiation of a period of rising prices throughout the Second Plan period.

An interesting feature of the price situation during the Second Plan was the preponderance of food prices in the rise of the general index upto 1959. In the general level of prices, the share of food prices was the highest while industrial raw materials and manufactures came next. It was after 1959-60 that industrial raw materials and manufactures contributed more and more to the general level of prices. The preponderance of food prices " can be easily explained by the high income elasticity of demand for food, the typical case in an under-developed economy ". [Promode Kumar Mukherjee, Money Supply and Prices in India since Independence, p. 65.]

The average wholesale prices of important commodities in Sholapur district in 1972 are furnished in table No. 13.

The average retail prices of important commodities in Sholapur district during 1972 are given in table No. 14.

The annual average consumer price index numbers for working class at Sholapur are given in table No. 15. The index numbers are computed with the average prices from February 1927 to January 1928 as the base.

Immediately after the out-break of hostilities with China in October 1962, prices in this district continued to advance steadily, and the consumer price index number for working class in the district which stood at 407 in October 1962 advanced to 416 in January 1963. However, it declined in the month of February 1963 and further continued to decline till the end of March 1963. The decline was short-lived and was mainly due to seasonal variations. The general level of prices started rising after May 1963 and the index which stood at 367 in April 1963 rose to 376 in June 1963 till it reached its peak at 381 in July 1963. The rising trend was reversed in August 1963. This could be attributed to the conscious efforts of the Government to hold the price line. The general price index however did not fluctuate much during the rest of the year, and varied between 377 and 379.

The consumer price index number which stood at 379 by the end of December 1963 advanced sharply to 497 by the end of December 1964. The share of the prices of food articles in the sharp rise of the index number was quite formidable. While the prices of almost all commodities in the district registered an increase, the prices of food articles increased by about 35 per cent.

The magnitude of the problem of rising prices assumed serious proportions after the Indo-Pak War of September 1965. The war effort of the Government of India brought ostensible strains on the national economy which aggravated the problem of rising prices. The severe conditions of drought in 1965-66 added to the already disturbing situation. There was general shortage of consumer goods. Speculative hoarding further deteriorated the situation by contributing to the rise in prices. The conditions in 1966-67 were no better than in the previous year. There were but few indications of revival from the oppressive conditions in 1965-66. The chaotic conditions in the national price situation after April 1967 did not fail to have their reflections in the district economy. The prices of most of the consumer goods touched a new high. Articles like sugar, gur, wheat, rice, cloth and footwear which were scarce in the market were offered at oppressive prices.

The price situation in Sholapur district as in the rest of India worsened unprecedently in 1971. The conditions of scarcity of goods, fall in production, the problem of refugees from East Pakistan and the Indo-Pak War of 1971 contributed to the upsurge in prices of all commodities. The escalation of prices gathered further momentum in 1972, 1973 and 1974 without any respite to the consumer. The prices continued to rise at a galloping space throughout 1974, and the situation appeared to be like a crisis.

An ordinary consumer who was the victim of the tyranny of the market conditions had little respite from 1969 upto 1974-75 except for short-lived aberrations from the rising trend, Government undertook some measures to halt the soaring prices from time to time. Informal rationing and restrictions on the movement of goods had their effect on controlling the prices of sugar, jowar and wheat. However, the impact of these measures on the general price level was only partial. In fact, the outrageous behaviour of prices cast an ominous shadow on the economic situation, and all measures were lost in the vortex of a struggle for existence.

Wage trends: A study of wage earnings of landless workers reveals a picture of virtual pauperisation of the majority of the workers. The impoverished conditions of this class of workers are characteristic of subsistence farming and the extremely limited capacity of the average farmer to pay wages to the hired labour. The very nature of the agrarian economy has given rise to a pernicious practice of hiring workers when a job begins and firing them away when it ends. Employment of workers on a casual basis results in flooding the labour market with an over-supply of workers, in depressing the wages to fantastically low level as a result of competition amongst workers, and ultimately to a criminal waste of man-power and a permanent loss to society. The method of employment of casual labour coupled with the poverty of the average agriculturist pushes the landless workers to the brink of pauperism. The economic condition of casual labour becomes most sordid during years of famine which frequent the district so very often. During famine years many of them have to subsist on doles and relief works, while the able-bodied men flock to Sholapur city for seeking odd jobs in factories. Thereby they add to the large reserve of unemployed workers which hover around from factory to factory. This amounts to hawking of labour from mill-gate to mill-gate. The system of hawking labour only serves to drag down the wages of those who are inside the mill-gate, because the employer can always threaten those workers whom he has already hired with the large floating mass of unemployed labour ready at hand which is knocking at the mill-gate willing to take up any work at practically any wage.

The condition of industrial labour is much better than that of agricultural labour. The industrial workers who are fortunate enough to secure employment throughout the year are assured of reasonable earnings as compared to their agricultural counterparts. They also get the benefit of industrial legislation such as leave, trade union rights, working hours and minimum wages.

However, even in the case of industrial workers, the industrial legislation, which is intended to contribute to the welfare of workers, is circumvented by incidental malpractices. The irresponsibility of the management combined with the impunity with which legislative provisions are avoided have made most of factory legislation almost inoperative. Factory inspection is not adequate and the punishment for breaches of rules are not sufficiently deterrent. The result is that the working conditions in factories in the district, if judged by ordinary standards of industrial management, are very miserable.

In the absence of reliable and precise data about wage rates in the district it is not possible to present a coherent trend of wage earnings. However, some statistics about wages which are available in published reports are furnished in table No. 16.

It is evident from table No. 16 that the average wages of almost all classes of rural labour did not rise substantially between 1950-51 and 1964-65. The study of these wage rates in the context of the general price level brings home the conclusion that wages very much lagged behind prices. The virtual stable rates of earnings of the rural working class must have lowered their standard of living, since their real wages must have actually declined considerably. There was, however, a considerable rise in the wages in 1972 over that in 1967-68. In this case also it should be borne in mind that the rise in wages was off-set by the immense increase in prices in 1972. Hence the rise in money wages did not contribute to the rise in standard of living of the various classes of rural labour. The wage rates of field labour and other agricultural labour showed a substantial rise in 1972 over the previous years. However, the wages of agricultural labour in the previous years were so low that the increase in 1972 brought them on par with the other classes of rural labour.

The analysis of the structure of wages as it obtains in the district shows that wages of rural labour are very much below the subsistence level. It also suggests the desirability of minimum wage legislation for the rural working classes who are at present at the bottom of the economic super-structure.

Employment: The 1971 Census statistics of employment in the various livelihood classes in the district are given in table No. 17.

The following statement shows the Employment Exchange statistics in Sholapur district during 1972-73:-



(1) Registration during 1972-73


(2) Vacancies notified


(3) Number of employers requisitioning candidates from the Exchange


(4) Number on the live register at the end of year


(5) Candidates placed in employment-

(a) Private sector


(b) Public sector




Employment Guarantee Scheme: The Employment Guarantee Scheme was introduced in the State in May 1972 as a part of the Fifteen Point Programme of the State Government. It was introduced with a view to providing employment to the unemployed or underemployed. Under this scheme employment is provided in manual work in rural areas to all adults who desire to work.

During 1972-73, Government had continued the Scarcity Programme in 450 villages under the Employment Guarantee Scheme out of the 946 total number of villages in the district. The Scheme was however extended to other villages from time to time. The District Employment Guarantee Committee from time to time sanctioned 353 works of various categories. An expenditure of Rs. 24.44 lakhs was incurred under the Scheme and 2,01,600 persons (cumulative) were benefited under the Scheme upto October 1972.

Since 15th October 1972 the employment guarantee works have been converted into tent scarcity works. During the Fifth Five-Year Plan a provision of Rs. 114.61 lakhs has been made for the implementation of the Employment Guarantee Scheme in the district.

Special Rural Employment Scheme: The object of this Scheme is to promote rural employment by integration of employment-oriented schemes in rural areas. It is proposed to provide Rs. 294.71 lakhs for this scheme during the Fifth Plan in the district, and works such as (1) canals, (2) soil conservation, and (3) afforestation have been planned to be undertaken under the Scheme.