Why did post-independence India become a poverty-stricken country despite having a vibrant economy earlier?





Mayank Verma

In the wake of India's independence from British colonial rule in 1947, there was great optimism and hope for the nation's future. India had a rich cultural heritage, a diverse population, and a history of economic prosperity. However, as the years unfolded, the country faced the stark reality of widespread poverty, leaving many puzzled as to how a nation with a once-vibrant economy could become poverty-stricken. This article delves into the complex factors that contributed to this paradox and explores the challenges India faced on its journey towards economic development.


I. Legacy of Colonial Rule

One crucial factor contributing to India's post-independence struggles was the enduring legacy of colonial rule. British colonialism had left the Indian economy depleted and heavily dependent on agriculture. The exploitative economic policies imposed during British rule hindered industrialization, stifled entrepreneurship, and perpetuated a deep socioeconomic divide.

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II. Population Pressure

Another significant challenge faced by India was its rapidly growing population. The country's population explosion placed immense pressure on limited resources, hindering economic progress. The struggle to meet the basic needs of such a vast number of people made poverty a persistent issue, despite overall economic growth.



III. Structural Inequalities

India's post-independence years also witnessed the persistence of deep-rooted social and economic inequalities. The caste system, although officially abolished, still had a profound impact on society. Discrimination, lack of access to education, and limited opportunities for marginalized communities further perpetuated the cycle of poverty.



IV. Agricultural Dependency

India's heavy reliance on agriculture played a significant role in its economic challenges. The majority of the population was engaged in subsistence farming, facing issues such as fragmented land holdings, outdated farming practices, and inadequate irrigation facilities. Poor productivity in the agricultural sector hampered overall economic growth and perpetuated poverty.



V. Insufficient Industrialization

While India took steps towards industrialization after independence, progress was slow and limited. The lack of investment, inadequate infrastructure, bureaucratic hurdles, and policy inefficiencies prevented the rapid growth of the manufacturing sector. This hindered job creation and perpetuated the dependence on agriculture, exacerbating poverty.



VI. Inefficient Governance and Corruption

The presence of inefficient governance and rampant corruption in post-independence India further impeded economic progress. Mismanagement of public funds, lack of transparency, and a cumbersome bureaucracy created barriers to development and perpetuated poverty. These issues hampered investments, discouraged entrepreneurship, and undermined the nation's economic potential.



VII. Educational Challenges

Access to quality education is a fundamental driver of economic development. However, India faced significant challenges in providing universal education during its early years of independence. The lack of educational infrastructure, low literacy rates, and inadequate skill development programs limited opportunities for social and economic mobility, contributing to persistent poverty.



VIII. Infrastructure Deficiencies

The inadequate development of infrastructure posed a substantial hurdle for India's economic growth. Insufficient transportation networks, power shortages, and limited access to basic amenities hindered industrialization and restricted the reach of economic progress to remote regions. These deficiencies perpetuated the poverty divide and hindered overall development.



IX. Socio-Political Instability

India faced socio-political challenges in the early years of its independence, including communal tensions, regional conflicts, and ideological differences. These internal struggles diverted attention and resources away from economic development, slowing progress and perpetuating poverty.



X. Conclusion

In conclusion, the reasons behind post-independence India's struggle with poverty despite a vibrant economy are multi-faceted and interconnected. The enduring legacies of colonialism, population pressure, structural inequalities, agricultural dependency, insufficient industrialization, inefficient governance, educational challenges, infrastructure deficiencies, and socio-political instability all played a role in hindering economic progress and perpetuating poverty.



Overcoming these challenges has been an ongoing process for India. In recent decades, the country has made significant strides in various sectors, including technology, services, and manufacturing. However, it is crucial to continue addressing these historical obstacles and implementing sustainable policies that promote inclusive growth, alleviate poverty, and ensure a prosperous future for all its citizens.





Dr. Balaji Viswanathan


Why is India among the poorest country that have been once ruled by the British compared to their other colonies that are now currently independent?


There are 2 types of British colonies.

Group A: Where the Europeans used the land for settlement, pushing out/exterminating the natives. Here they got large tracts of land from them, applied European technology and shared the spoils with a small group of people — resulting in wealth.



1.     USA

2.     Canada

3.     Australia

4.     New Zealand

1.     美国

2.     加拿大

3.     澳大利亚

4.     新西兰

Group B: Where the Europeans didn’t settle, but used up the resources — such as land, markets, people. These colonies benefitted little from the industrial revolution and other key technology progress of the 19th and early 20th centuries.


1.     India

2.     Pakistan

3.     Bangladesh

4.     Malaysia

5.     Sudan

6.     Kenya

7.     Egypt

8.     Sierra Leone

9.     Uganda

10.   Zimbabwe

11.   Namibia

12.   Nigeria

1.     印度

2.     巴基斯坦

3.     孟加拉国

4.     马来西亚

5.     苏丹

6.     肯尼亚

7.     埃及

8.     塞拉利昂

9.     乌干达

10.   津巴布韦

11.   纳米比亚

12.   尼日利亚

In the Group B, India is one of the most stable society and economies.






It never had a vibrant economy Before.

It had good land,enough resources with ample opportunities for industries.

Post independence ,the planning was simply nit there. They never new how to codify the various spheres and evaluate priorities.




The country just slided on its own momentum with knee jerk reactions.

No assemenr for feasibility of industries,social section,agriculture development rural targeting ,nothing.






Venkat Janakiraman

Having lived in those days my reply is: The policies of Congress - nay Jawahar Lal - of not trusting Industrialists, and copying the com nist model; sold to him by Lenin, during his conducted tour of Russia,

The permit licence Raj, made many congressmen, and their friends grow rich, while the populace remained poor.



e.g You had to have milk cards (hard to get) to get milk at reasonable prices

e.g. You had to get Govt. approval of need to buy a car

The politicos made money by recommending these







Sadiq Attar


Is India becoming a free poverty country?


India has made significant progress in reducing poverty in recent years, but it still has a long way to go before it can be considered a completely poverty-free country. According to the World Bank, India's poverty rate has declined significantly, from 55% in 2004 to 28% in 2020. However, this still means that nearly 350 million people in India live below the poverty line, which is a significant number.



India has implemented several policies and initiatives to address poverty, such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), which provides a minimum of 100 days of employment per year to rural households, and the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, which aims to provide universal access to banking facilities.

印度实施了几项政策和举措来解决贫困问题,例如《全国农村就业保障法》每年为农村家庭提供至少100天的就业机会,以及《Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana》,可以为民众普及银行服务。

While these initiatives have had a positive impact, there are still significant challenges that need to be addressed, such as income inequality, lack of access to quality education and healthcare, and insufficient employment opportunities. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated poverty in India, with millions of people losing their jobs and livelihoods.


In conclusion, while India has made progress in reducing poverty, it still has a long way to go to become a completely poverty-free country. There is a need for continued efforts and policies to address the root causes of poverty and ensure that all citizens have access to basic needs and opportunities.





Frederick Sharon


Why is India struggling with poverty after 71 years of independence?

Corrupt Government / Selfish politicians and “I'll be bothered only if my backyard is on fire” citizens all constitute to a “still” develo nation..it wouldn't change when things don't change.






Thomas L. Johnson


Why is there so much poverty in India after 67 years of independence? Who is to blame?


I cannot answer this question but I can question this question. Instead of asking who is to blame, it might be more useful to ask what is to blame. It could be overpopulation, religion, political incompetence, corruption, anti-development sentiments, failure to modernize, colonialism. Those are the traditional reasons for a failure to develop.


This is an important question and I await some well-considered answers. I still like the optimistic idea that was expressed by the BRIC designation where Brazil, Russia, India, and China were seen as countries of great potential. Yet, in 2015, at least two and maybe three of those countries are failing to show the promise.



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