India's Economic History

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Indian civilization traces its early origins back to the Harappan civilization in the 3rd millennium BC, had acquired a definite mould by the early centuries of the Christian era. During this period, India had not only developed a unique social order and philosophy of life, but also a set of political norms which in turn shaped its world view (Cox, 1997: pp124).

The concept of religious tolerance, for example has been a leit motif throughout Indian history including the period of Turkish rule between the 13th and 8th centuries (pp125).

Although the socio-political order and the ethico-moral norms devised during this period, subtly changed in response to changed situations, they were enduring enough to influence strongly all subsequent movements and formations in the country including governments.

The story of India, according to Michael Wood, is a tale of incredible drama, great inventions, enormous diversity, phenomenal creativity and the very biggest ideas. But it is also the history of one of the world’s emerging powers. (Wood, 2008 pp 8). India became a free nation only 60 years ago but in real sense it has existed for thousands of years.

Historical economists conjecture that India’s GDP was the largest in the world until around 1500 when it was overtaken by China only for both to be eclipsed in the age of the European empires when the centre of history shifted away from the landmass of Asia to the Western European seaboard, transformed by the wealth of the New World.( Wood, 2008 pp 10)

By 1900 both China and India had sunk to generating a tiny percentage of the world’s wealth, India less that 3 per cent.

India, a country of broad diversity – religion, anthropological, linguistic, went through a stormy process of build...

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...of fundamental human rights which, among other things, implies not using force or threats of force against weaker states. The vision of such a world is fully in consonance with India’s history and cultural ethos (Cox pp143).

India also faces many problems especially with social inequalities, rural poverty, overpopulation and environmental degradation. But it has immense advantages – it is an open society and a vibrant democracy with formidable practical and language skills, and as a civilization that has attempted to be pluralisticnand tolerant over a vast period of time, can draw on huge cultural resources from its past.

Despite difficulties and setbacks, the establishment and acceptance of a dynamic working democracy has been remarkable achievement over the last 60 years, and it is a democracy that has many things to teach many other states. (Wood, 2008 pp10)
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