Occupational structure refers to how the workforce is distributed across different sectors of an economy, including primary (agriculture), secondary (manufacturing), and tertiary (services). On the brink of independence, the occupational structure in India had the following characteristics:

  • Agriculture Dominance: The majority of the workforce, approximately 72.7 percent, was engaged in the agricultural sector. A smaller percentage, 10.1 percent, worked in manufacturing, while 17.2 percent were in the service sector.
  • Regional Disparities: Significant regional variations were observed. In states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and West Bengal, the reliance on agriculture had decreased over time. Conversely, in states such as Odisha, Rajasthan, and Punjab, there was a notable increase in the proportion of the workforce engaged in agriculture.
  • Table 1.1 Occupational Distribution of India on the Eve of Independence
Occupation1951 (%)
1Primary sector72.7
BAgricultural Labour19.7
CForestry, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, Plantation2.4
2Secondary Sector10.1
ASmall and Large Scale Industries9.0
BBuilding Construction1.1
3Tertiary Sector17.2
ATrade and Commerce5.2
BTransport, Storage and Communication1.4
COther Services10.6
  • (Source: Census of India 2001)

Objective Type Questions

1.What does “occupational structure” refer to in an economy?
a) The distribution of income among different sectors
b) The distribution of the workforce among various sectors
c) The distribution of resources in different regions
d) The distribution of population by age group
Answer: b) The distribution of the workforce among various sectors

2.What was the percentage of the workforce engaged in agriculture on the eve of India’s independence?
a) 10.1 percent b) 17.2 percent c) 72.7 percent d) 27.3 percent
Answer: c) 72.7 percent

3.Which sector had the smallest share of the workforce on the eve of independence?
a) Agriculture b) Manufacturing c) Services d) None, all sectors had an equal share Answer: b) Manufacturing

4.In which Indian states did the dependence on the agricultural sector decline before independence?
a) Odisha, Rajasthan, and Punjab b) Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala
c) Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Karnataka d) Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh
Answer: b) Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala

5.What was the major trend in the occupational structure in the mentioned states on the eve of independence?
a) A decrease in agricultural workforce b) A shift from services to manufacturing
c) An increase in the manufacturing sector d) Regional disparities remained unchanged Answer: a) A decrease in agricultural workforce

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