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Question-1

What was the main focus of the economic policies followed by the British and what were the impacts in our economy?

Solution:
After the advent of the British, the economic policies were framed in such a way that they promoted and protected the British economic interests and did nothing for the development of the Indian economy. They brought about a fundamental change in our economic structure, changing us from a manufacturer of artifacts and handicrafts into a net supplier of raw materials of the British industries and the end consumer of the industrial products manufactured by Britain. The purpose of the British colonization of India was to reduce us to being a feeder economy of the Great Britain’s rapidly growing modern industry oriented economy.

Question-2

List the names of some of the economists who tried to study the per capita income during the colonial era.

Solution:
Some of the notable estimators of our per capita income during the period of British rule are: Dadabhai Naoroji, William Digby, Findlay Shirras, V K R V Rao and R. C. Desai.

Question-3

What were the causes of the backwardness of the agricultural sector?

Solution:
The stagnation was caused due to: The various systems of land settlement introduced by the British government particularly under the zamindari system which was implemented in the Bengal Presidency of the British empire. Under this system, the profits that were got out of cultivation went to the zamindars instead of the farmers who cultivated the land. The main objective of the zamindars was to only collect rent from the cultivators regardless of their economic conditions.
 
The other reasons for the poor growth and productivity of the agricultural sector were: lack of irrigation facilities, low levels of technology and negligible use of fertilizers.
 
Due to commercialization of agriculture, there was a relatively high yield of cash crops in some parts of our country. These cash crops were produced for and used by the British industries in Britain.
 
The agricultural production was pushed further back during the time of partition. A sizeable portion of the undivided India, which was highly irrigated and fertile, went to Pakistan. This affected our agricultural outputs adversely.

 

Question-4

The traditional handicrafts industry was ruined. Do you agree?

Solution:
Yes the traditional handicraft’s industry was ruined because the colonial rulers did not let the people manufacture and export the indigenous handicrafts.

Question-5

What was the main aim of the Britain government in following their policies in industry?

Solution:
The British empire followed a policy of systematically de industrializing India with a two fold aim. The main aim was to reduce India to a country, producing just raw materials which were exported to England for their upcoming Industries. The other intention was to ensure that India turns into a big consumer of the finished goods made by the industries of England enabling a continuous expansion of the industries there.

Question-6

Give a quantitative appraisal of the demographic conditions of our nation during the colonial rule.

Solution:
India was in the stage of a first demographic transition before 1921.
 
The second stage of such a transition happened after 1921.
 
At this stage, however, neither the population growth nor the total population of India was very high.
 
The social development indicators were also not very encouraging at that time.
 
The overall literacy was less than 16 percent and female literacy was around 7 percent.
 
Public health facilities were unavailable to a very large sector of people. They were inadequate wherever they were available.
 
Hence, water and air borne diseases attacked people in huge numbers and spread causing a large number of deaths.
 
The overall mortality rate was very high and infant mortality was alarming.

 

Question-7

When was the first official census taken?

Solution:
Details of the population of British India were collected first in 1881, through a census.

Question-8

What was the occupational structure during that time?

Solution:
The occupational structure, ie the distribution of working people across different industries and sectors showed very little sign of change during the British rule.
 
The largest workforce was in the agricultural sector accounting for about 70-75% of the working people.
 
The manufacturing sector had 10% while the service sector accounted for about 15-20% of the working population.
 
A main feature was the growing regional variation. Areas of the then Madras Presidency (today’s Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala), Maharashtra and West Bengal saw a decline of the workforce in agriculture with a parallel increase in the manufacturing and services sector.
 
During the same time, there was an increase in the workforce in the agriculture sector in Orissa, Rajastan and Punjab.

 

Question-9

Highlight the main economic challenges that India faced at the time of independence.

Solution:
The main problems faced were:

 

The agricultural sector had low productivity and huge labour surplus. This had to be addressed.
 
The industrial sector needed modernization and more diversification and public investment.
 
Trade was in a bad shape too. We had lost our handicrafts market and also the monopoly of the jute export market. So we had to improve our trade too.
 
Infrastructure had been improved very slightly by the British by the introduction of the railways but other infrastructure like postal services and public health services needed to be improved.

 

Question-10

Name some modern industries which were in operation in our country at the time of independence.

Solution:
During the British rule, basic infrastructure like railways, ports, water transport, posts and telegraph were developed.

Question-11

What was the two-fold motive behind the systematic deindustrialisation effected by the British in pre-independent India?

Solution:
The British empire followed a policy of systematically de industrializing India with a two fold aim. The main aim was to reduce India to a country, producing just raw materials which were exported to England for their upcoming Industries. The other intention was to ensure that India turns into a big consumer of the finished goods made by the industries of England enabling a continuous expansion of the industries there.

Question-12

The traditional handicrafts industries were ruined under the British rule. Do you agree with this view? Give reasons in support of your answer.

Solution:
The colonial rule ensured that the handicraft’s industry faced a downslide and no other industry was allowed to come up and flourish and take the place of the handicraft’s industry. The British empire followed a policy of systematically de industrializing India with a two fold aim. The main aim was to reduce India to a country, producing just raw materials which were exported to England for their upcoming Industries. The other intention was to ensure that India turns into a big consumer of the finished goods made by the industries of England enabling a continuous expansion of the industries there.

Question-13

Indicate the volume and direction of trade at the time of independence.

Solution:
India became a grower of raw materials, India became an exporter of such products like cotton, jute, raw silk etc and an importer of finished goods like cotton, silk and woolen clothes and capital goods like light machinery, all of which were produced in the factories of England. Britain maintained a complete monopoly over our trade. Hence most of our trade was with Britain and the rest with China, Ceylon(Srilanka) and Persia(Iran). After the Suez canal was opened, the British control over India’s trade increased even more.

During the colonial period, the most significant characteristic of our trade was the generation of a large export surplus. This surplus costed our economy heavily. Several essential commodities like food grains, clothes, kerosene etc were not available in the domestic market. Also, the export surplus did not bring in any flow of gold or silver to India. Instead they were pocketed by the colonial government, which took it away for the expenses incurred by the office they had set up in India. They also used the export profits to pay for the wars fought by them and for the import of non-existent goods thereby draining India’s wealth.

Question-14

Were there any positive contributions made by the British in India? Discuss.

Solution:
During the British rule, basic infrastructure like railways, ports, water transport, posts and telegraph were developed. The railways was introduced by the British in 1850 and it is considered as one of their important contributions. The advent of railways affected the Indian economy in two ways: It helped break geographical and cultural barriers because people could travel long distances. It aided the commercialization of Indian agriculture which severely affected the self sufficiency of our villages. The volume of our trade expanded. The colonial powers also took steps to develop inland trade and sea lanes. During the colonial period, the most significant characteristic of our trade was the generation of a large export surplus.




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