India: Poverty and Change [Notes on the Problems of Modernization]

India: Poverty and Change [Notes on the Problems of Modernization]

1) The Heritage of Traditional Society

India has been a traditional society for centuries. Writing of the country as it was after the death of Akbar the Great, in 1605 A.D., W. H. Moreland, the distinguished historian of India, observes that there were hardly any middle classes—very few lawyers, professional teachers, journalists, or politicians. There were no men of science investigating peasant problems, no skilled engineers designing implements to meet their needs, and no financial talents devoted to organizing their market or supplying capital to them. Coal was not mined, and the production of copper and iron was limited by the availability of wood. The standard of living was extremely low, and the country was subjected to recurrent famines. Although there were some improvements by the time the British left, these did not affect the overwhelmingly traditional character of our society. This is what we have been struggling to change all these years since independence.

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