Here’s How India’s Economy Has Fared In The Last 75 Years


In 2020-21, India received a record $ 81.72 billion in Foreign Direct Investment.

India enters its 75th year of Independence on August 15 this year. In March 2021, the Government of India announced Amrut Mahotsav a two-year-long nationwide initiative to commemorate the milestone. India’s economic journey since 1947 has seen its share of ups and downs. Once branded a “third world country” a term for poor developing nation-states which has now fallen into disuse, India is now among the biggest economies of the world. There’s still a long way to go for India, though.

Here’s a look at India’s economic journey in 8 points:

  1. Food Production: Achieving “self-sufficiency” in food grains has been Independent India’s biggest achievement. From receiving food aid in the 1950s and 1960s to becoming a net exporter, India has seen a turnaround in food production. The total food production, which stood at 54.92 million tonnes in 1950, rose to 305.44 million tonnes in 2020-21. 

  2. Gross Domestic Product (GDP): India’s GDP stood at Rs 2.7 lakh crore at Independence. 74 years on, it has reached Rs 135.13 lakh crore. India is now the 6th largest economy in the world and is on its way to becoming the third-largest by 2031, as per Bank of America. An unmissable fact is that there has been a 10- fold increase in the GDP (at constant prices) since the reform process began in 1991. 

  3. US dollar to Rupee: Contrary to a popular 2013 forward which had pegged US $1 to Rs 1, a US dollar was equal to Rs 3.30 in 1947. Notably, India’s rupee was pegged to the UK Pound Sterling, not the US Dollar. In August 2021, US $1 is equal to Rs 74.  

  4. Forex: India’s forex reserves (In foreign currencies and other assets like gold) stood at a meagre Rs 1,029 crore in 1950-51. In fact, India’s low forex reserves played the catalytical role in kickstarting the economic reforms. With just $1.2 billion worth of forex reserves in 1991, India just had enough reserves to finance 3 weeks of imports. Three decades since the reform process began, India’s forex reserves now stand at Rs 46.17 lakh crore – the world’s fifth-largest. 

  5. Indian Railways (route length): India already possessed one of the biggest railway lines in the early years of Independence. In Independent India, the Indian Railways has focused on unifying all rail gauges, electrification of railway lines and connecting northeast India to the mainland. Moreover, the railway line has expanded by over 14,000 kilometres, reaching 67,956 kilometres in route length by 2020. 

  6. Roadways (length): Roads have expanded exponentially in the last 75 years. In 1950, as per government figures, India only had 0.4 million kilometres of roadways, which has grown to 6.4 million kilometres in 2021. This is a 16-fold rise in the total length of roadways, making India’s road network the second largest in the world. 

  7. Access to electricity (rural areas): Providing rural India with access to electricity has been one of the goals of India’s socio-economic policymaking.  According to the Ministry of Power, only 3,061 villages had access to electricity in 1950. In 2018, the Indian government announced that all of India’s villages – 5,97,464 in total – had been electrified. However, given the criteria to declare a village electrified – 10 per cent of households in a village having access to electricity, there are millions who still live without electricity. 

  8. Foreign Direct Investment: In the pre-liberalised ‘license raj’ India, foreign investment was limited if not non-existent. In 1948, the total foreign investment in India stood at Rs 256 crore. However, since the 1991 liberalisation, FDI has become the buzzword of India’s economic story. In 2020-21, India received a record US$ 81.72 billion in Foreign Direct Investment.

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Pulkit Chaturvedi
Senior journalist with over 13 years of experience covering various fields of Journalism.

Keen interests in politics, sports, music and bollywood.


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