355/2018 Bishnupriya Gupta
At midnight of 15th August 1947, India became an independent country. It ended 200 years of colonial rule under the British Empire. It altered the borders of India. Two distinct regions from the Western and the Eastern sides were carved out as a separate political entity of the state of Pakistan.2 Indian independence also led to a major change in the direction of economic policy. From a globalized economy integrated into the British Empire, the next 30 years saw a retreat from policies of free trade and capital flows. The newly independent state embraced the idea of development through industrialization. In an economy, where capital was scarce and entrepreneurship was concentrated in a few communities, the state stepped in to fill the gap. India was not unusual in this. Many parts of the underdeveloped world, both colonies in Asia and independent countries in Latin America moved towards protectionist policies to develop an industrial sector. This was not simply the infant industry argument, which had characterized industrialization in the United States and Europe 19th century. The role of the state in the newly independent countries, in the second half of the 20th century, was developmental and directly interventionist. While the industrialized world in Europe and North America began to rebuild the institutions of free trade after 1945, the underdeveloped world moved in a different direction, where the idea of a “Developmental State” became an intrinsic part of policy making. This paper will take a long run view of Indian economic development. I will start with Mughal India under the emperor Akbar in 1600. This was the high point of economic prosperity measured by average living standards. I will look at the changes in the economy over the next 400 years, first in response to increasing trade with Europe through the global network of European trading companies, then through the formal political rule of the East India Company.
The Economic History Review