Scottish-born Alexander Mackay (1808â€“1852) spent most of his career as a journalist in Canada and the United States, though he had been called to the bar in 1847. In 1851 he was commissioned by the chambers of commerce of Manchester, Liverpool, Blackburn, and Glasgow to go to India and report on the cultivation of cotton there, especially around Gujarat. He stayed for a year and was on his way back to Britain â€“ his return forced by ill health â€“ when he died at sea in 1852. His Western India, however, was published the following year after it was revised by James Robertson. The book highlights the many impediments to further growth of the Indian cotton trade: the poverty of the cultivators, heavy taxation, outdated planting methods and poor infrastructure, as well as the problem of competition from the booming cotton exports of the United States.
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