Economic Condition Of India During The Colonial Period

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Question :

Essay Title : How did India seek to overcome the economic disadvantages it inherited from the colonial period? 

Reading Materials :

Video on Tharoor’s book from the International Book Fair and

Literary Fest

 Ray Kiely, Industrialization and Development : A comparative analysis. Chapter 3, London:UCL Press [1998].  

 Tharoor, S., (2017) Inglorious Empire: What the British did to India.

Ray Kiely, Industrialization and Development : A comparative analysis. Chapter 3, London:UCL Press [1998]. 

 Angus Maddison, Class Structure and Economic Growth : India and Pakistan since the Moghuls.

 Pranab Bardhan. The political economy of development in India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press [1989].

 H. Bernstein, ‘Agrarian Structures and Change in India’ in H. Bernstein . Rural Livelihoods [1992].

                        T. J Byres. The state, development planning and liberalisation in India, Oxford: Oxford University Press [1998]

Chandavarkar, Rajnarayan.   Industrialization in India before 1947:

 Conventional Approaches and Alternative Perspectives Modern

Asian Studies, 1985, Vol.19(3), p.623-668  

 Pramit Chaudhuri, Readings in Indian agricultural development, London : Allen and Unwin 1972. 

 Tom Kemp, Industrialization in the Non-Western World, chapt 4.

 Tom Kemp, Historical Patterns of Industrialization.

 George Rosen. Peasant society in a changing economy: comparative development in Southeast Asia and India,  University of Illinois Press [1975].

 P. N. Rosenstein-Rodan. Capital Formation and Economic

Development: Studies in the Economic Development of India, Taylor and Francis [2012].

S.         Sakar,  Modern India  [1989] chapter 2.  

T.         V. Sathyamurthy. Class formation and political transformation in post-colonial India, Oxford: Oxford University Press [1996].

 Simmons, Colin.   ‘De-industrialization’, Industrialization and the

Indian Economy, c. 1850–1947 Modern Asian Studies, 1985,

Vol.19(3), p.593-622  

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Answer :


India is the country of art and culture, and also they are the 7th largest country in the world in term of area. Till the 17th century, this country was considered to be one of the wealthiest countries in the world. At the 18th century, East India Company came to India, and that was the starting phase of the colonial era. The primary purpose of the paper is to discuss regarding the economic condition of the country during the colonial period and their way to overcome this phase for developing the condition. The paper also discussion regarding the various activities that are being performed in the modern era to develop the country and the economic condition of the country.

Main Context 

British era or the colonial era is considered the darkness era for India because it was one of the richest countries in the world during 1700. At this time India accounted for the 27% of the global GDP that is a gross domestic product as compared with the present-day United States account is for 23% (Inglorious Empire: What the British did to India - Dr. Shashi Tharoor, 2019). In that period the revenue of Emperor Aurangzeb is considered to be huge as compared to all the crowned headed Europe that are present in the recent time. It is the fact that the Mughal Emperor has the maximum number of revenue as compared to the king and kingdom of the modern world. The colonial era created a massive disturbance within the country and for that significant impact on the economic condition of the country (Maddison, 2013). Before the British era the country has the most suitable and effective economic condition, and for that, it was considered the wealthiest country in the world. This was the primary reason that this country was the major attraction for most of the ruler across the globe. British also came within the country to rule over the nation and grab all the richness of the country.

The British rule the country for over 200 years and during this time they have managed to drain a maximum number of resources of India with the help of numerous policies and activities. The entire period British stayed within the country they have destroyed the economic condition of the country and left it being one of the poor countries within the world. British left the country in the year 1947 in the poverty line that is accounted for 90 percent of the Indian population was considered on below the poverty line (Inglorious Empire: What the British did to India - Dr. Shashi Tharoor, 2019). The condition was so bad that the life expectancy was reduced to 27 years of age. The literacy rate of the country also reduced to 17 percent, and in the case of women, it was more pathetic as the literacy rate for women was 8.9 percent. The impact was so huge that infant mortality and other worst things are being widespread in the country (Bardhan, 1999). The situation of the country become worse during the British period and also after that, but in the recent years, it could be visualised that the country is gradually overcoming all the problem that has faced in the colonial period.

In the recent time, the poverty line of India is considered to be 26% from the 90% that was right after the colonial era (Inglorious Empire: What the British did to India - Dr. Shashi Tharoor, 2019). This has been achieved by the numerous good activities and also the growth of numerous companies and multinational companies within the country. The economic condition of the country is gradually developing with an increased literacy rate and numerous industrialisation in India. It was the challenge for the Indian government to redevelop the country from the ruin of the colonial era. It is the fact that within the 71 years of freedom from the British era the country has sustained their GDP growth with the rising per capita incomes. With the changing world where the technology, industrialisation and other process have effectively taken over to develop the economic condition of the country. British in every respect have destroyed the economic health and the resources of the country (Byers, 1998). With time the country is gradually developing their condition, and this is done by running the persistent trade in the country. The process of vaccination for numerous phases and also for the improvement if food availability helped the country to overcome their economic downturn after the colonial period. 

The primary target of the British rule is to destroy all the resources and the richness of the country, and for that, they have destroyed the industries than the weaver industries, shipping manufacturing industry and much more. During their rule of 200 years, they have performed all the activities and played all the worst policies for destroying the rich resources of India. This country has faced numerous destruction and for that at present they to deal with the numerous challenges to improve their condition (Rosenstein-Rodan, 2013). The present economic feature of the country shows that the investment done by the Indian Business person in the foreign market has overtaken the foreign direct investment that also for the first time. It is a fact India have followed the different path for the development as compared to the other countries all over the world. The Indian Tax system has the humanity and sensitivity but when the British took over the country they incorporate a huge rate of taxes (Simmons, 1985). In that time the minimum taxes for the crop was considered to be 45%, and sometimes it goes up to 90 to 95 percent. This was the condition that people have to pay the tax or else they were tortured and humiliated.

In India, the development is gradually taking place for the last 71 years, and till then the country has seen the fast-growing population of the working age. The working age population of the country has increased from 58% to 64%, and it is rapidly increasing with both the men and women working at the same platform (Shah, 2016). The economic management of the British for India was also not suitable as it could be understood that in the first half of the 20th century till 1947 the GDP of India was considered to be 0.01%. The world is changing, and with time the gross domestic product of all the countries in the world are also developing. In recent years, there are numerous ways for performing suitable and beneficial trade that enhance the chance of economic development in the country (Nilsen, & Nielsen, 2016). With time India has developed their legal system by the help of proper education system and also with the process of the suitable and effective political activity. For India, the development was quite challenging, and to date, they have developed their working function and their economic condition from 1947 to date. Despite all the negative activities and the disastrous consequences done by the British government, the country has managed to maintain their position within the world.

The education system of the country along with the tax process and the growth of industries help them to increase the economic condition of India. It is the primary fact that the country has proceeded with the numerous trade option for the improvement of working function within the market. In the global market, India has developed their business process and trading facilities which help them to increase their gross domestic product, and for that, in the recent years, they have gained suitable position (Deshpande, 2015). It is quite difficult for the country to achieve the richness that they had during 1700 and before, but at the same time, the condition of the country has grown a little better which provides the valuable business process for the entrepreneurs. The entire activity of the country is based on the colonial ruin, and for that, it becomes much essential for the country to enhance their commercial facilities. The education facilities have developed, and for that, the number of working people have also developed who have a huge contribution to the development of the economic condition (Duran, 2018). All the facts and the activities performed within the country for the last 71 years help India to overcome the economic disadvantages they inherited from the colonial period. 


The paper eventually concludes the fact that the colonial period is not the right phase for India. The British came to this country and took all the resources and richness of the country by making it one of the poorest country in the world. The paper also concludes that the British have some of the dangerous and the destructive policies that eventually ruined India from inside and lower the GDP to 0.01%. The condition of the country was pathetic during the colonial period. When the British left India, there was nothing left within the country, and they have drained everything out from the country. Numerous activities and policies are performed by the British which destroyed the economic condition of the country. From that phase till date India has developed a vast change, and all this took place due to proper planning, education system and maintenance of the resources within the country.