In 1947, Almost 60% of the population was below the poverty line. The life expectancy was 32 years. We had one of the highest infant mortality rate in the world- 50 deaths for every 1000 births and a literacy rate of mere 12%.
Comparing this with the present situation, we have definitely come a long way. Our poverty rate is around 20%. The literacy rate is over 74% and is expected to cross 80 by 2020. We also stand third in the world in terms of GDP [PPP], after China and the USA.
And this is a commendable achievement for a country which such a big population and we have achieved this not by looting other countries or by selling oil. And moreover we are a great example of democracy.
Look at the following graph
[ TO BE NOTED: While first unit on X-axis represents 1000 years, the second represents 500 years and the last few represent only 1 year.]
As you can see, India and China comprised of 50-60% of the world GDP for the first three-quarters of this millennium.
Between 1800- 1950, India was colonised and we suffered badly. We were looted, our economic, social, cultural and political conditions were at a very pitiable condition by 1947.
Let me quote some statistics.
India share of the world economy when Britain arrived on its shares was 23 per cent, by the time the British left it was down to below 4 per cent.
In World War I, One-sixth of all the British forces that fought in the war were Indian – 54 000 Indians actually lost their lives in that war, 65 000 were wounded and another 4000 remained missing or in prison.
Indian taxpayers had to cough up a 100 million pounds in that time’s money. India supplied 17 million rounds of ammunition, 6,00,000 rifles and machine guns, 42 million garments were stitched and sent out of India and 1.3 million Indian personnel served in this war. I know all this because the commemoration of the centenary has just taken place. But not just that, India had to supply 173,000 animals 370 million tonnes of supplies and in the end the total value of everything that was taken out of India and India by the way was suffering from recession at that time and poverty and hunger, was in today’s money 8 billion pounds
World War II, it was even worse – 2.5 million Indians in uniform. I won’t believe it to the point but Britain’s total war debt of 3 billion pounds in 1945 money, 1.25 billion was owed to India and never actually paid.
The railways and roads were really built to serve British interests and not those of the local people and many countries have built railways and roads without having had to be colonised in order to do so.
They were designed to carry raw materials from the hinterland into the ports to be shipped to Britain. And in fact, one mile of Indian railway costing twice what it cost to build the same mile in Canada or Australia because there was so much money being paid in extravagant returns.
Not only economically were we impoverished but also our country got divided in the name of religions and castes. Many were stuck with the feeling of inferiority. These effects are felt till today in our country.
When you search for life in India, you see this-
But let the world know that we also live here-
(Mumbai is all set to feature in the top 5 skylines of the world in a few years.)
||Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinaha||
May everyone be happy.
Source for the quoted text:
Read: Shashi Tharoor's full speech asking UK to pay India for 200 years of its colonial rule
Originally written in:
Edit: For those of you comparing with China-
India is a democracy while China is not. This is very important-
- Decisions like introducing bullet trains had a lot more debating and opposition in India. Every policy is opposed and debated and this is a sign of healthy democracy. This opposition will be good in the long run.
- Policies like one-child policy cannot be easily enforced in India. We will have people on the streets the next day. A democracy keeps in mind, the personal interests of the citizens too.
- People cannot run free in China if they say something like “Kitne Afzal Guru maroge, har ghar me paida hoga ek Afzal Kashmir ki azadi tak jung chalegi, Bharat ki barbadi tak jung chalegi” <I think this freedom of speech must be regulated in India as well
- And finally, only the economic conditions of India and China were same in 1950. Do remember that India was shattered socially too. This has an effect on economy too. The partition led to civil war and thousands of refugees. The foundation of casteism and communalism were laid by the British government in India.
- And yes, China opened its economy in 1970s while we did it only in 1990s
But yes one could say that India adopted Democracy too early.