India Economy, Religion and Government

Population. – On March 1, 1941, the seventh general population census took place throughout the Indian Empire, the main results of which are reported in the table on the next page.

In the decade 1931-41 the population of the Indian Empire grew by 50.9 million souls (or 15%; it is the highest value since 1891 onwards); the increase was greater in the provinces of direct dominion (19.1%) than in the indigenous states (14.1%). At the beginning of 1948 the total of this population perhaps exceeded 420 million residents Cities with populations over 100,000 residents they had risen to 58 in 1941. Another characteristic element of the population of India, which was still accentuated in the last census, is that of the prevalence of males (201,025,726) over females (187,972,229). For India public policy, please check

Among the main professed religions, Hindus represented 65.5% in 1941, Muslims 24.3%, Christians 1.6%, Sikhs 1.5%, Buddhists and Parsi together less than 1%. Compared to 1931, the greatest increase is marked by Muslims (22.5%); both for Hindus (7%) and for Christians (8%) the increase remains significantly below the average for the entire population in the decade under consideration. Of the 6,316,549 Christians surveyed in 1941, 55% belonged to the provinces under British government and about a third were concentrated in the province of Madras.

Christianity. – In July 1937 the diocese of Trivandrum dei Latini was created, suffragan of Verapoly; in 1940 (January) that of Lucknow, and the apostolic prefecture of Jhansi, suffragans of Agra, as well as (February) the dioceses of Guntur, suffragan of Madras, and that of Bangalore, suffragan of Pondichéry; in June 1946, the apostolic prefecture of Gorakhpur, dependent on Agra and in June 1947 transformed into a diocese dependent on Delhi-Simla, the apostolic prefecture of Kāfiristān and Kashmir, with the title of Rawalpindi. The constitution (27 September 1947) of the Church of South India, born as a fusion of the Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregationalist churches, should be noted in the ecclesiastical life of India.

Economic activities. – In the statistics relating to the production of the Indian Empire, it is necessary to take into account, after April 1937, the detachment of Burma, which is due, for various voices, to notable changes. The most conspicuous concern rice and oil. If for the former, production fluctuates around 400 million tons per year (while Burma alone gives 70 ÷ 80 tons), India is now clearly in deficit for oil (350,000 tons in 1943 against 1.3 million in 1936) ; a partial compensation however represents the increased production of coal (26.8 million tons in 1946). For the rest, the general conditions of agriculture remain practically unchanged. The data on the main crops, for the average of the four years 1941-44, are summarized in this mirror:

The detachment of Burma has also considerably reduced the percentage of the forest area which, for the areas subject to the imperial administration of the provinces, was 238,000 sq km in 1945.

Big industry made significant progress during the war period; that of cotton, which is by far the most prominent, in 1940 counted 10.1 million spindles and over 200,000 mechanical looms. The country’s tendency to complete its equipment with the planting of numerous new branches of industry is also evident.

Foreign trade has continued to record a consistently large export surplus over imports, as can be seen from the following table:

In imports, raw materials destined for industry tend to prevail over manufactured items (vegetable and mineral oils, cotton, wool, etc.), while in exports, alongside agricultural products, manufactured items (jute in first place) are highlighted.

Communications. – The mileage of the railways in operation has slightly contracted; in 1945 it was 61,924 km., of which 49,959 were administered by the government and the rest by the various states. In the financial year 1944-45, 926.7 million passengers and 101.7 million tonnes were transported. of goods. Civil aviation had a great development after the war (24,167 km of lines in 1947, excluding international ones).

Sorting. – On August 15, 1947, the Indian Empire was divided into two dominions: of India (see below, p. 20) and Pakistan (see in this App.).

Finance. – The intense participation of India in the war had its repercussions on the finances of the central government which also had to advance the part of the war expenses which, according to the agreements concluded, belonged to the British government. The trend of income and expenditure of the central government’s ordinary budget, excluding recoverable expenses, has been as follows over the last decade:

Government debt (sterling loans, rupee loans, small savings and floating debt) increased from Rs 12,057 million in 1939 to Rs 21,623 million as of March 31, 1948; however, the total amount of sterling loans fell from Rs.4,650 million in 1939 to Rs.264 million. At the end of the war, India found itself a creditor of Great Britain for over 1100 million pounds.

The circulation of Central Bank notes from March 1939 to March 1948 increased from Rs. 1,784 million to Rs. 13,044 million. In order to combat the black market and tax evasion, the government decreed, in January 1946, the withdrawal from circulation of the notes of denomination higher than 500 rupees. In consideration of the insufficient availability of silver, the government decided (May 1946 and April 1947) to stop minting silver coins up to and including one rupee. Following the accession of India to the International Monetary Fund, the rupee was separated from the pound sterling, and directly related to the currencies of all the countries adhering to the Fund: the gold parity was set in gr. 0.268601 and that with the dollar at rupees 3.30852 per dollar, based on the exchange rate with the pound: pence.

In 1947 it was also decided to nationalize the Reserve Bank, and the Imperial Bank. The Central Bank Act entered into force on January 1, 1949.

With an order of the governor general of 14 August 1947, a first settlement was given to the monetary and banking issues deriving from the subdivision of India into the dominions of India and Pakistan. According to this ordinance, until 30 September 1948, the standard monetary unit of Pakistan remained the Indian rupee and Indian notes kept their legal tender there. The Reserve Bank, on the other hand, on June 30, 1948, ceased to carry out its normal functions as central bank in Pakistan; however it was authorized to issue, after March 31, 1948, special tickets having legal tender only in the new dominion.

India Economy