Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Falling Behind and Catching up: India's Transition from a Colonial Economy

Author(s): Bishnupriya Gupta

Publication Date: January 2018

Keyword(s): colonial history, Long-run development and Service Sector led growth

Programme Area(s): Economic History

Abstract: India fell behind during colonial rule. The absolute and relative decline of Indian GDP per capita with respect to Britain began before colonization and coincided with the rising textile trade with Europe in the 18th century. The decline of traditional industries was not the main driver Indian decline and stagnation. Inadequate investment in agriculture and consequent decline in yield per acre stalled economic growth. Modern industries emerged and grew relatively fast. The falling behind was reversed after independence. Policies of industrialization and a green revolution in agriculture increased productivity growth in agriculture and industry, but Indian growth has been led by services. A strong focus on higher education under colonial policy had created an advantage for the service sector, which today has a high concentration of human capital. However, the slow expansion in primary education was a disadvantage in comparison with the high growth East Asian economies.

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Bibliographic Reference

Gupta, B. 2018. 'Falling Behind and Catching up: India's Transition from a Colonial Economy'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.