Economic History of India – The Colonial Era

Economic History of India – The Colonial Era

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British colonial rule ruined the economy of India. The economic history of India during the colonial era highlights the systematic exploitation of India for furthering the cause of the British empire.

Course Description

In the middle of the 18th century, India was leading in the world in production and export of textiles, spices, and grains. During the colonial era, the British subjected Indian farmers and artisans to hefty taxes crippling their livelihoods. Exploitative tactics on Indian economy were enforced by the British rulers to benefit Britain. For instance, raw materials like cotton would be bought by the British at throwaway prices from Indian farmers, and the finished goods were sold in India at very high prices. By the end of the colonial rule, India had faced its worst famine in its history that killed 10 million people, and the Indian economy shrunk from being 25% of the global economy to a meagre 4%. From being one of the largest economies of the 18th century, India plunged into poverty and backwardness after the Colonial era. The total wealth drained from India during British Raj is estimated to be around $44.6 trillion.

Learning Objectives

  1. To know about India economy history before, during and after the colonial rule 

  1. To know British policies affected Indian economy 

  1. To understand how Indian economy made progress after Independence from British rule 


Divya Badri


Mastering India

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