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Demography ,Infrastructure and Foreign Trade Before Independence

Foreign Trade:

  • India has been considered a vital trading country for several years
  • Restrictive colonial policies of commodity production, trade, and tariff adversely affected the structure, composition, and volume of India’s foreign trade
  • Thus, India became an exporter of essential items like crude silk, cotton, fleece, sugar, indigo, jute, and so forth and an importer of completed goods like cotton, silk, woolen garments, and capital products like light hardware made in Britain
  • Practically Britain maintained monopoly control over India’s exports and imports
  • Subsequently, the more significant part of India’s exchange was limited to Britain, while the rest was permitted with a couple of different nations like China, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and Persia (Iran)

Demographic Condition: 

  • Census was first time conducted in 1881 in the British India, and it was revealed that there is a major unevenness in the population growth
  • India’s population and rate of population growth at this stage were not very high
  • The overall literacy level was also less than 16 percent. Also, the female literacy level was as low as 7 percent
  • General wellbeing facilities were either inaccessible or exceptionally lacking
  • Water and air-borne illnesses were widespread and negatively affected life
  • The overall mortality rate was very high, and mainly, the infant mortality rate was quite alarming—about 218 per thousand 
  • Life expectancy was also very low at just 44 years
  • Extensive poverty continued in India during the provincial time frame, which added to the demolishing profile of India’s population of the time

Occupational structure: 

  • The occupational structure is the distribution of working persons across different industries and sectors
  • During the British era, there was no major shift in the distribution of population engaged in various activities
  • There was a growing regional variation in the occupational structure
  • Portions of the then Madras, Bombay and Bengal saw a decrease in the reliance of the labor force on the agricultural area with a comparable expansion in the assembling and the administration’s areas.
  • Expanded reliance on farming in states like Orissa, Rajasthan, and Punjab.


  • Basic infrastructures developed such as railways, ports, water transport, posts, and telegraphs
  • However, the real motive behind this development was to serve various colonial interests
  • The British introduced Railways in India in 1850, and it is considered one of the most important contributions  
  • The rail routes impacted the construction of the Indian economy in two significant ways
  • It empowered individuals to attempt significant distance travel and subsequently break geological and social obstructions

In any case, social advantages acquired attributable to the presentation of the rail routes were offset by the country’s gigantic financial misfortune.

  • Developed a system of inland sea lanes
  • The system of the electric telegraph was introduced primarily to maintain law and order
  • The postal services were expanded but remained inadequate

By the time of independence, the impact of two centuries-long colonial rule was visible on all aspects of the Indian economy, resulting in widespread poverty and unemployment, leaving enormous social and economic challenges before the country. 


The state of India’s  demographic conditions, infrastructure and foreign trade before independence were majorly different as of now. Before independence the majority of India’s foreign trade was restricted with Britain due to their adverse trade and tariff policies. Demographic condition was also not very progressive as only 16% of the population were literate and there was even less in India’s population growth. There were various air borne illnesses and the mortality rate was very high and life expectancy was also very low. 75% of India’s population was dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. The Indian infrastructure before independence was developed by the British with the introduction of railways, water transport ,post and telegraph but the real motive behind them was the development of their colonial interest. By the time of independence the impact of two centuries long colonial rule was visible on all aspects of the Indian economy which resulted in widespread poverty and unemployment and India faced a lot of social and economic challenges.