Highlight the salient features of India’s pre- independence occupational structure.


The occupational structure refers to the distribution of population working in different sectors. It showed no variation throughout British rule.

The following are the salient features of India’s pre-independence occupational structure

(i) Predominance of Agriculture—Under colonial rule, India was basically an agrarian economy, with nearly 75% of its workforce engaged directly or indirectly in agriculture. Due to massive poverty and widespread illiteracy during the colonial rule, a large proportion of the population was engaged in farming and related activities to earn their subsistence. But agricultural sector suffered J from low productivity

(ii) Lack of Opportunities in Industry—Only a small proportion of the population was employed in the manufacturing sector. Nearly 10% of the total workforce was engaged in manufacturing and industrial sectors. This was due to the stiff competition that the Indian industries ; faced from the machine made cheap goods from Britain. Further, the lack of investment initiatives and the unfavorable tariff structure constrained the industrial sector. Thus, the Indian industrial sector failed to provide significant employment opportunities. ;

(iii) Unequal Distribution Among Sectors—The three sectors of Indian economy, i.e., agricultural, industrial and service sector were unequal in terms of occupational structure, While the agricultural sector employed majority of the workforce, the other two sectors were not contributing much to employment With 10% of the workforce in industries and 15-20% in service sector

(iv) Regional Imbalance—There was regional variation in the occupational structure of India. On the one hand, the Madras Presidency (comprising present day states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka). Bombay and Bengal experienced a fall in the agricultural workforce and increase in occupational share of manufacturing and services. On the other hand, states like Orissa, Rajasthan and Punjab experienced a rise in the agricultural workforce.

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