Indian Economy on the Eve of Independence Notes & Mind map

Indian Economy on the Eve of Independence Notes & Mind map
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Development Policies and Experience (1947–90): Following independence in 1947, India embarked on a journey of economic development, shaping its policies to meet the challenges of a newly sovereign nation. The period from 1947 to 1990 was marked by a strategy that emphasized self-reliance and industrialization. The government adopted a mixed economy framework, where both public and private sectors coexisted. A series of five-year plans were initiated, focusing on different sectors of the economy. These plans aimed at improving infrastructure, boosting industrial growth, and reducing poverty. The public sector was expanded, and key industries were nationalized. This period also saw the implementation of land reforms and efforts to improve the agricultural sector. However, the rigid regulatory framework, known as the License Raj, led to inefficiencies and slow economic growth. Despite these challenges, this era laid the foundation for India's future economic expansion and liberalization in the 1990s.

Low Level of Economic Development Under the Colonial Rule:

The Indian economy under colonial rule was characterized by a low level of economic development. The colonial policies were designed primarily to serve the British economic interests, leading to the exploitation of India’s resources. Indian industries, especially the handloom and handicraft industries, faced decline due to the influx of British manufactured goods. The agricultural sector was also adversely affected, with farmers forced into growing cash crops instead of food grains, leading to food shortages. The colonial era witnessed a lack of investment in India's infrastructure and industrial sector, resulting in minimal industrialization. The economic policies during this period led to stagnation and underdevelopment, creating a structure that benefitted the colonial power at the expense of the Indian economy.

Agricultural Sector:

The agricultural sector has always been a cornerstone of the Indian economy. Post-independence, the focus was on making the country self-sufficient in food grains. The Green Revolution in the 1960s was a major milestone, introducing high-yielding varieties of seeds and improved irrigation techniques. These changes resulted in increased production, especially in wheat and rice. However, the sector faced several challenges, including fragmented landholdings, inadequate irrigation facilities, and reliance on monsoon rains. Despite these issues, agriculture continued to be a major employer and played a crucial role in the rural economy. Efforts were made to improve agricultural productivity and support farmers through subsidies, credit facilities, and market reforms.

Industrial Sector:

The industrial sector in post-independence India was marked by significant government intervention. The government's focus was on developing heavy industries and manufacturing units under the public sector. The Industrial Policy Resolution of 1956 laid the framework for industrial development, with an emphasis on building a strong and self-reliant industrial base. Major industries like steel, mining, and machine tools were largely state-controlled. While this approach helped in laying the groundwork for industrialization, it also led to inefficiencies and a lack of competition. The industrial sector's growth was hampered by the License Raj, which required businesses to obtain numerous permits and licenses from the government.

Foreign Trade:

Foreign trade in the initial decades post-independence was characterized by a protective policy stance. India adopted an import substitution strategy, aiming to reduce dependence on foreign goods and develop domestic industries. High tariffs and import quotas were imposed to protect the nascent industries. The focus was more on exporting primary goods and importing capital goods. However, this approach limited India's participation in the global economy and led to a lack of competitiveness in Indian industries. In the later years, particularly in the 1980s, there was a gradual shift towards liberalization, paving the way for a more open and globalized economy.

Demographic Condition:

India's demographic condition post-independence presented both challenges and opportunities. The country had a large population, but it was predominantly rural with low literacy rates and limited access to healthcare. The initial decades saw a high birth rate and declining mortality rate, leading to a population explosion. Efforts were made to improve health and education sectors, with programs aimed at family planning, immunization, and primary education. The demographic transition also provided a large workforce, which later became an asset in the country's economic development, particularly in the service sector.

Occupational Structure:

The occupational structure of India underwent significant changes post-independence. Initially, a large majority of the population was engaged in agriculture, with a small proportion in industry and services. Over time, there was a gradual shift from agriculture to the industrial and service sectors. This shift was driven by economic policies that emphasized industrialization, urbanization, and later, the growth of the IT and service industries. However, agriculture continued to employ a large portion of the population, reflecting the dualistic nature of the Indian economy.


Infrastructure development was a key focus area in post-independence India. The government invested in building roads, railways, ports, and communication networks to support economic growth. Significant emphasis was placed on energy infrastructure, with the establishment of power plants and expansion of the electricity grid. Irrigation projects were undertaken to improve agricultural productivity. However, the pace of infrastructure development was slow, and it struggled to keep up with the growing population and economic demands. In the later years, particularly post-1990s, there was a push towards involving the private sector in infrastructure development, leading to improved efficiency and expansion.

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