Highlight the Salient Features of India's Pre-independence Occupational Structure

By K Balaji|Updated : September 4th, 2022

The salient features of India's pre-independence occupational structure include a predominance of agriculture, lack of opportunities in the Industries, unequal distribution among different sectors, unbalanced growth of individuals that affects the economy, and regional imbalance. India’s occupational structure before independence didn’t show much growth during the British period.

Salient features of India's Pre-independence Occupational Structure

The salient features of India’s pre-independence occupational structure are as follows-

  • The predominance of Agriculture- India has always been a land devoted to agricultural practices. About 75% of the Indian workforce was engaged in agriculture (directly and indirectly). During the colonial period, there was massive poverty, and people were illiterate, because of which they engaged themselves in agricultural practices like farming and earning their livelihood.
  • Lack of employment opportunities in the Industries- Though the manufacturing sector was another vital segment then, yet only a few skilled individuals could get a job because of the lack of employment opportunities in the industries. Around 10% of people used to work in the industrial and manufacturing sectors.
  • Unequal Distribution among Sectors- There was a massive imbalance in the occupational structure in terms of distribution of the workforce among the agricultural (primary sector), manufacturing (secondary sector), and service sectors (tertiary sector)
  • Regional Imbalance- There was a poor condition of occupational structure because of the regional variations. Bengal, Bombay, and Madras Presidency experienced the rise of the manufacturing industry and a simultaneous fall in the workforce associated to agriculture. In contrast, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Orissa highly depended on agriculture.

Related Questions:-


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  • Before independence, the occupational structure of India was highly dependent on agriculture as most of the people were poor and illiterate. There was a lack of industrial employment because of the unequal distribution of the workforce among different sectors lastly, the regional imbalance also affected the occupational structure.

  • Since most people were poor and illiterate in India, they opted for agriculture. More than 75% of the Indian population was dependent on agriculture. Because of this, there was an unequal workforce distribution among different segments.

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