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Steel is the lifeline for the industrial growth of a nation. The article provides a detailed understanding of the steel industry in India, its beginning, the growth of the steel industry, significant milestones and the future for the industry.

Steel Industry

Steel is an important indicator to analyze the economic development of a country. The steel industry is highly scientific and technology oriented. Technological advancement is very important for the overall health of the steel industry.

Indian Steel Industry

During Ancient Period
The history of iron and steel making in India goes back by several centuries. It dates to 480 BC when archers in India used arrows tipped with steel. The iron pillar of Dhar near Indore in Madhya Pradesh dates back to about 321 AD, the iron pillar of Kutab Minar near Delhi dates back to about 400 AD and the iron beams of Sun temple of Konark in Orissa dates back to 13th century. These pillars are a testimony to ancient India's expertise in the making of steel.

Before Independence
The roots of the Indian Steel industry in modern times can be traced to the year 1874, when a company called Bengal Iron works at Kulti near Asansol in West Bengal produced iron. One of the most important landmarks in the history of Indian steel industry was the commencement of the Tata Iron and Steel Company at Jamshedpur in the state of Bihar in 1907.The other prominent steel manufacturers before independence were Indian Iron and Steel Company (1922),Mysore Iron and Steel Works(1923) and Steel Corporation of Bengal (1937).

After Independence
India found it difficult to sustain development in steel sector after independence on its own due to the lack of technological development. The high cost of developing technology in this sector proved to be a major hindrance. That's when the government decided to go for synergy with other countries for technology transfer. Some of the prominent steel plant set up then was in Rourkela in collaboration with West Germany and in Bokaro in collaboration with Russia. These steel plants came under the purview of public sector enterprises.

Post Liberalization
The post liberalization scenario in the Indian Steel industry has witnessed a monumental shift. Some of the salient features are:
  • The need for license for increasing capacity has been abolished.
  • Steel industry has been removed from the list of Industries under the control of state sector.
  • Foreign equity investment in steel has gone up to 74%.
  • In January 1992 the price and distribution controls were removed.
  • Policies like convertibility of rupee on trade account, freedom to mobilize resources from overseas financial markets and restructuring of existing tax structure have immensely benefited the industry.
The Indian steel industry has come a long way since its humble beginnings. The takeover of the British steel giant Corus steel by Tata Steel and the acquisition of Arcelor by Mittal Steel herald a new beginning for the Indian steel industry. These events signify the fact that the Indian steel industry has acquired a global identity and is today extremely competitive globally.

Some of the prominent steel producers today are Posco, Tata Steel, Essar, Ispat, Sail and Rinl.

Future trends
  • It has to be said that the global recession has affected the Indian steel industry especially stainless steel, but the steel industry is trying to offset the negative effect of the recession by focusing on transportation and construction projects which are usually funded by the government.
  • India is the only country globally to record a positive overall growth in crude steel production at 1.01 per cent for the period January -March 2009.
  • It is estimated that India's steel consumption will grow at nearly 16% annually till 2012.
  • The National Steel Policy has forecasted the demand for steel would reach 110 million tons by 2019-2020.

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