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    Agriculture Sector on the Eve of Independence

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    Agriculture Sector on the Eve of Independence


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    A Brief History of the Agriculture Sector on the Eve of Independence

    Last updated date: 12th Mar 2023

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    It is a well-known fact that at least two-thirds of the national income of India is derived from the agriculture sector of the country. However, before 1947, under British rule, more than 90% of the national income relied on the Indian agriculture sector. A significant portion of the country’s population resided in rural areas where agriculture was the primary source of livelihood.

    The pre-colonised India produced primarily two crops, i.e. wheat and rice. Even if it was only two types of crops, the country's agricultural sector was sustainable and self-sufficient. The British invasion resulted in total commercialisation of India’s agriculture industry. On the eve of independence, the once most prominent sector of this country was known to be suffering from stagnation and constant degradation.

    It has been known that India's warriors and freedom fighters sacrificed their lives and everything they had to earn independence from British rule. Do you remember how the Indian economy looked on Independence Day in 1947? As a result of the Colonial government's presence and the measures and policies that they adopted, our economy was in a terrible state. Thus, back in 1947, when the British gave our country back to us, our economy was crippled and destroyed.

    Agriculture Sector of India - Stagnation During British Rule

    Indian agriculture during British rule went towards stagnation. Lack of supervision led to negligence in reforms, which were introduced to ensure development in productivity. Meanwhile, the British government continued in their trade deals, extracting more profit that inevitably led to the fall of India’s agricultural sector.

    Agriculture Sector of India – Causes of Stagnation

    There are various causes for stagnation in the Indian agricultural sector during British rule. Some of these are –

    Zamindari System

    One of the primary reasons for the cause of stagnation in India’s agricultural sector was the zamindari system. This agricultural system was mainly practiced in Bengal, which was the then capital of British India. As per this system, the majority of the profits went tolan downers, i.e. zamindars instead of cultivators. As a result, the colonial bosses ultimately made the most income, while such farmers were not remunerated adequately.

    These zamindars, who were vassals of their colonial masters, did not help to improve the agriculture sector but only wanted to reap its benefits. Even though economic conditions were degrading gradually, zamindars did not issue any rebates on tariffs. Moreover, such tariffs had unethical rules and guidelines that did not favor cultivators. For example, if cultivators did not pay their rent on time, the colonial leaders would repeal all of their rights.

    Forced Commercialization

    Even though there was a shortage of resources, the British rule insisted on widespread commercialization to bring in more profits. Their objective was to make this industry evolve and undergo ‘cultivation for sale’ from the orthodox methods of ‘cultivation for self’.

    That led to the production of crops only for sale. In India, where the majority of cultivated crops were used for self-consumption, they were then sent to markets for sale. The British also introduced the cultivation of commercial crops such as Indigo to enhance their profits. Even though Indigo is a favorable crop for a commercialized agriculture sector, it brought more harm to India as it damaged the fertility of soils in vast proportions.


    India’s partition into Pakistan and Bangladesh brought in a food crisis all over India as several crop-cultivating lands were now divided. Various rice-producing agricultural lands in Punjab, India then became a part of Pakistan.

    Features of Indian Agriculture on the Eve of Independence

    There are various reasons behind the decline of the agricultural sector on the eve of Independence of India. They are –

    Fragmented Land Ownership

    On the eve of independence, our Indian economy was known to be in an agro-state. Despite being a primary means of livelihood, India’s agriculture sector was in a rapid decline. One of the main reasons behind it being scattered was land owned by different individuals which made it even harder for cultivation.

    Outdated Technology

    Even after India achieved independence, old fashioned technology and outdated methods were used in its agriculture sector. Not only was there a lack of machines, which would help in minimizing human resources but also an absence of growth enhancement ingredients, such as fertilizers, etc.

    Low Productivity

    Due to the absence of innovative methods and fragmented ownership of cultivated lands’ existence, the total output per hectare of lands was significantly low. So, productivity in India’s agriculture sector reached rock bottom and thus affecting its economy at a large scale.

    Feud Amongst Landowners and Cultivators

    Another reason behind the agriculture sector’s decline on the eve of independence was the long-lasting feud between landowners and cultivators.

    स्रोत : www.vedantu.com

    During the British rule in India, Indian agricultural output witnessed stagnation due to

    During the British rule in India, Indian agricultural output witnessed stagnation due to

    Class 12th Economic, Question paper 2023 -During the British rule in India, Indian agricultural output witnessed stagnation due to

    By Komal Kohli - March 17, 2023

    These are the options for the question :During the British rule in India, Indian agricultural output witnessed stagnation due to

    (a) Decline in handicrafts

    (b) Drain of Indian wealth

    (c) Land Settlement

    (d) Introduction of railways

    The correct answer is -(b) Drain of Indian wealth

    स्रोत : www.mapsofindia.com

    Agricultural Sector: Effect of Colonization on India's Agricultural Sector

    Did you know that the deaths due to starvation alone during British rule are estimated to be between 15 to 29 million? The pre-colonial India was primarily producing two crops- rice & wheat. Yet it was self-sufficient. The incidence of colonization forced changes in the agricultural sector such as commercialization.

    Indian Economy on the Eve of Independence

    Agricultural Sector

    Did you know that the deaths due to starvation alone during British rule are estimated to be between 15 to 29 million? Such numbers indicate the adversities of colonial India. The pre-colonial India was primarily producing two crops– rice and wheat. Despite this, it was self-sufficient and sustainable. The incidence of colonization forced changes in the agricultural sector such as commercialization.

    Table of content

    1 Suggested Videos

    2 The Pre-Colonial Scenario of Agricultural Sector

    3 The Colonial Saga

    4 Stagnation of Agricultural Sector during British Rule

    4.1 Other Factors

    5 Solved Question for You

    Suggested Videos

    Introduction to Economics

    Nature of Economics

    Utility of Economics to Society

    The Pre-Colonial Scenario of Agricultural Sector

    During the pre-British era, a major part of India’s population was dependent on agriculture. The farming technologies and irrigation facilities were not satisfactory. However, agriculture in villages was self-sustaining and independent.

    The village communities either purchased or consumed the raw materials and articles directly. Consequently, starvations and famines were rare if not frequent. Of course, agricultural practices remained primitive, but the villages functioned independently and were self-sufficient. All of this went for a toss when the Britishers set feet on the Indian subcontinent.

    The Colonial Saga

    Britishers were keen on establishing a monopoly in India. They saw India as a means to drive their home country towards a state of unmatched power. Colonisers drew out every ounce of Indian resource and every drop of Indian blood for their selfish motives. Such was the state of exploitation.

    During the British rule also the Indian economy remained agrarian. Rough estimates claim that about 85% of the economy derived their livelihood directly or indirectly from agriculture. Though, unlike the pre-colonial India, the feature of self-sufficiency vanished in the colonial state. This led to various famines which the colonizers paid no heed to provided it didn’t affect their profit margins. Effectively, the agricultural sector continued to experience deterioration and stagnation, particularly marked by low levels of agricultural productivity.

    Stagnation of Agricultural Sector during British Rule

    The Indian agricultural sector, which supported almost the entire economy, went towards stagnation. There was a negligible introduction of reforms to ensure an increase in productivity. On the contrary, the Britishers continued to extract profits which broke the knees of Indian agricultural sector.

    The major cause of this sorry state of Indian agriculture was the various land settlement systems of the colonial government.  The highlight of this was the zamindari system which was practiced in the then Bengal presidency. Under this, the majority of profits went to the zamindars instead of the cultivators, ultimately filling up the pockets of their colonial bosses.

    Just like their colonial masters, the zamindars did nothing to improve the state of agriculture. They were only concerned with collecting rent despite the economic condition and the plight of the cultivators. However, the revenue settlement policy particularly fuelled this ruthless nature adopted by the zamindars. Under this, the rent can be paid until a fixed date, failing which their colonial masters would take away all their rights.

    Other Factors

    Agricultural technologies remained primitive with no efforts to improve conditions from the British side. Even after the introduction of fertilizer technology farmers used natural manure, which resulted in low yields. This coupled with lack of proper irrigation facilities aggravated the misery.

    The motive behind agricultural activities shifted from self-sustainability to commercialization focused upon the increase of profits of colonials. As a result, there was an increase in the yield of cash crops, but it helped the farmers in no way. Farmers were now mass producing cash crops instead of food crops, which were ultimately used for the benefit of British industries. These cash crops include cotton, jute, oilseeds, sugarcane, tobacco etc.

    Additionally, at the time of partition, a large portion of fertile and highly irrigated land went to Pakistan, especially the jute producing areas that went with East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Hence, the jute industry received a heavy setback. By and large, the Britishers further added to the plight of Indian agricultural system and left with an enormous task ahead of us.

    Solved Question for You

    Q: What was the main interest of the zamindars?

    Collect Rent Improve farmlands

    Insure farmers from losses

    All of the above

    Ans: The correct option is “A”. The only interest the Zamindars had was to collect the rent from the farmers. They did not particularly care about the welfare of the farm or the farmer.

    स्रोत : www.toppr.com

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