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Structural 
Change 
1
Chapter 1.indd   1 14 September 2022   12:02:26
Rationalised 2023-24
Page 2


Structural 
Change 
1
Chapter 1.indd   1 14 September 2022   12:02:26
Rationalised 2023-24
Social Change and Development in India
2
Understanding the present usually involves some grasp of its past. This 
holds true probably as much for an individual or social group as for an entire 
country such as India. India has a long and rich history. While knowing about 
its past in ancient and medieval times is very important, its colonial experience 
is particularly significant for comprehending modern India. This is not just 
because many modern ideas and institutions reached India through colonialism. 
It is  also because such an exposure to modern ideas was contradictory or 
paradoxical. For example, Indians in the colonial period read about western 
liberalism and freedom. Yet they lived under a western, colonial rule that denied 
Indians liberty and freedom. It is contradictions of this kind that shaped many 
of the structural and cultural changes that Chapters 1 and 2 look at. 
As the next few chapters shall show, our social reform and nationalist 
movements, our laws, our political life and our Constitution, our industry and 
agriculture, our cities and our villages have been shaped by our paradoxical 
experience with colonialism. This has had lasting implications for our specific 
experience with modernity. The following are just some of the many instances 
we face in our daily life. 
We have a parliamentary and a legal system, a police and educational 
system built very much on the British model. We drive on the left side of the 
road like the British. We have ‘bread-omlette’ and ‘cutlets’ as menu offered in 
many roadside eateries and canteens. A very popular manufacturer of biscuits, 
is actually named after Britain. Many school uniforms include neck-ties. We 
often admire the west and as often resent it. These are just some of the many 
and complex ways that British colonialism lives on in contemporary India.  
Different dimensions of modernity
Chapter 1.indd   2 14 September 2022   12:02:27
Rationalised 2023-24
Page 3


Structural 
Change 
1
Chapter 1.indd   1 14 September 2022   12:02:26
Rationalised 2023-24
Social Change and Development in India
2
Understanding the present usually involves some grasp of its past. This 
holds true probably as much for an individual or social group as for an entire 
country such as India. India has a long and rich history. While knowing about 
its past in ancient and medieval times is very important, its colonial experience 
is particularly significant for comprehending modern India. This is not just 
because many modern ideas and institutions reached India through colonialism. 
It is  also because such an exposure to modern ideas was contradictory or 
paradoxical. For example, Indians in the colonial period read about western 
liberalism and freedom. Yet they lived under a western, colonial rule that denied 
Indians liberty and freedom. It is contradictions of this kind that shaped many 
of the structural and cultural changes that Chapters 1 and 2 look at. 
As the next few chapters shall show, our social reform and nationalist 
movements, our laws, our political life and our Constitution, our industry and 
agriculture, our cities and our villages have been shaped by our paradoxical 
experience with colonialism. This has had lasting implications for our specific 
experience with modernity. The following are just some of the many instances 
we face in our daily life. 
We have a parliamentary and a legal system, a police and educational 
system built very much on the British model. We drive on the left side of the 
road like the British. We have ‘bread-omlette’ and ‘cutlets’ as menu offered in 
many roadside eateries and canteens. A very popular manufacturer of biscuits, 
is actually named after Britain. Many school uniforms include neck-ties. We 
often admire the west and as often resent it. These are just some of the many 
and complex ways that British colonialism lives on in contemporary India.  
Different dimensions of modernity
Chapter 1.indd   2 14 September 2022   12:02:27
Rationalised 2023-24
Structural Change
3
Let us take the 
example of the English 
language to show how its 
impact has been many 
sided and paradoxical 
in India. This is not a 
matter about wrong 
spellings alone. English 
is not only widely used 
in India but we now 
have an impressive body 
of literary writings by 
Indians in English. This 
knowledge of English has given Indians an edge in the 
global market. But English continues to be a mark of 
privilege. Not knowing English 
is a disadvantage that tells in 
the job market. At the same time 
for those who were traditionally 
deprived of access to formal 
education such as the Dalits, 
knowledge of English may open 
doors of opportunities that were 
formerly closed.
In this chapter we focus 
on structural changes that 
colonialism brought in. We, 
therefore, need to shift from 
this broad impressionistic view 
to a clearer understanding of 
colonialism as a structure and 
system. Colonialism brought into 
being new political, economic and 
social structural changes. In this 
chapter we look at only two of these structural changes 
namely industrialisation and urbanisation. While the 
focus is on specific colonial context, we also briefly touch 
on developments after independence. 
All these structural changes were accompanied 
by cultural changes which, we look at in the next 
chapter. However any strict separation of the two is  
difficult. As you will see the structural changes are 
difficult to discuss without some mention of the cultural 
changes too. 
Virtually English 
Housewives and college students who know English take up 
plum assignments as online scorers in BPOs, writes K. Jeshi 
It is a familiar classroom scene. The only unfamiliar thing 
is the setting. Computer screens turn blackboards and 
housewives take over as teachers to evaluate English essays 
written by non-English speaking students in Asia. All, at the 
click of the mouse. The encouraging comments given by the 
evaluators here motivate students in Japan, Korea and China 
to learn English.  
Online education, the new wave in the BPO segment, 
is bringing cheer to those who want to earn a fast buck. 
All you need is a flair for English, creative skills, basic 
computer knowledge, the drive to go that extra mile and 
willingness to learn. 
Source: The HINDU, Thursday, May 04, 2006
Chapter 1.indd   3 14 September 2022   12:02:27
Rationalised 2023-24
Page 4


Structural 
Change 
1
Chapter 1.indd   1 14 September 2022   12:02:26
Rationalised 2023-24
Social Change and Development in India
2
Understanding the present usually involves some grasp of its past. This 
holds true probably as much for an individual or social group as for an entire 
country such as India. India has a long and rich history. While knowing about 
its past in ancient and medieval times is very important, its colonial experience 
is particularly significant for comprehending modern India. This is not just 
because many modern ideas and institutions reached India through colonialism. 
It is  also because such an exposure to modern ideas was contradictory or 
paradoxical. For example, Indians in the colonial period read about western 
liberalism and freedom. Yet they lived under a western, colonial rule that denied 
Indians liberty and freedom. It is contradictions of this kind that shaped many 
of the structural and cultural changes that Chapters 1 and 2 look at. 
As the next few chapters shall show, our social reform and nationalist 
movements, our laws, our political life and our Constitution, our industry and 
agriculture, our cities and our villages have been shaped by our paradoxical 
experience with colonialism. This has had lasting implications for our specific 
experience with modernity. The following are just some of the many instances 
we face in our daily life. 
We have a parliamentary and a legal system, a police and educational 
system built very much on the British model. We drive on the left side of the 
road like the British. We have ‘bread-omlette’ and ‘cutlets’ as menu offered in 
many roadside eateries and canteens. A very popular manufacturer of biscuits, 
is actually named after Britain. Many school uniforms include neck-ties. We 
often admire the west and as often resent it. These are just some of the many 
and complex ways that British colonialism lives on in contemporary India.  
Different dimensions of modernity
Chapter 1.indd   2 14 September 2022   12:02:27
Rationalised 2023-24
Structural Change
3
Let us take the 
example of the English 
language to show how its 
impact has been many 
sided and paradoxical 
in India. This is not a 
matter about wrong 
spellings alone. English 
is not only widely used 
in India but we now 
have an impressive body 
of literary writings by 
Indians in English. This 
knowledge of English has given Indians an edge in the 
global market. But English continues to be a mark of 
privilege. Not knowing English 
is a disadvantage that tells in 
the job market. At the same time 
for those who were traditionally 
deprived of access to formal 
education such as the Dalits, 
knowledge of English may open 
doors of opportunities that were 
formerly closed.
In this chapter we focus 
on structural changes that 
colonialism brought in. We, 
therefore, need to shift from 
this broad impressionistic view 
to a clearer understanding of 
colonialism as a structure and 
system. Colonialism brought into 
being new political, economic and 
social structural changes. In this 
chapter we look at only two of these structural changes 
namely industrialisation and urbanisation. While the 
focus is on specific colonial context, we also briefly touch 
on developments after independence. 
All these structural changes were accompanied 
by cultural changes which, we look at in the next 
chapter. However any strict separation of the two is  
difficult. As you will see the structural changes are 
difficult to discuss without some mention of the cultural 
changes too. 
Virtually English 
Housewives and college students who know English take up 
plum assignments as online scorers in BPOs, writes K. Jeshi 
It is a familiar classroom scene. The only unfamiliar thing 
is the setting. Computer screens turn blackboards and 
housewives take over as teachers to evaluate English essays 
written by non-English speaking students in Asia. All, at the 
click of the mouse. The encouraging comments given by the 
evaluators here motivate students in Japan, Korea and China 
to learn English.  
Online education, the new wave in the BPO segment, 
is bringing cheer to those who want to earn a fast buck. 
All you need is a flair for English, creative skills, basic 
computer knowledge, the drive to go that extra mile and 
willingness to learn. 
Source: The HINDU, Thursday, May 04, 2006
Chapter 1.indd   3 14 September 2022   12:02:27
Rationalised 2023-24
Social Change and Development in India
4
1.1 Understanding Colonialism At one level, colonialism simply means 
the establishment of rule by one 
country over another. In the 
modern period western 
colonialism has had 
the greatest impact. 
India’s past has 
been marked by the 
entry of numerous 
groups of people 
at different times 
who have estab-
lished their rule 
over different 
parts of what 
constitutes modern 
India today. The 
impact of colonial 
rule is distinguishable 
from all other earlier 
rules because the changes 
it brought in were far-reaching 
and deep. History is full of examples 
of the annexation of foreign territory and 
the domination of weaker by stronger powers. Nevertheless, there is a vital 
difference between the empire building of pre-capitalist times and that of capitalist 
times. Apart from outright pillage, the pre-capitalist conquerors benefited from 
their domination by exacting a continuous flow of tribute. On the whole they 
did not interfere with the economic base. They simply took the tribute that 
was skimmed off the economic surplus that was produced traditionally in the 
subjugated areas. (Alavi and Shanin, 1982)
In contrast British colonialism which was based on a capitalist system 
directly interfered to ensure greatest profit and benefit to British capitalism. 
Every policy was geared towards the strengthening and expansion of British 
capitalism. For instance it changed the very laws of the land. It changed not 
just land ownership laws but decided even what crops ought to be grown and 
what ought not to be. It meddled with the manufacturing sector. It altered 
the way production and distribution of goods took place. It entered into the 
forests. It cleared trees and started tea plantations. It brought in Forest Acts 
that changed the lives of pastoralists. They were prevented from entering many 
forests that had earlier provided valuable forage for their cattle.
Chapter 1.indd   4 14 September 2022   12:02:27
Rationalised 2023-24
Page 5


Structural 
Change 
1
Chapter 1.indd   1 14 September 2022   12:02:26
Rationalised 2023-24
Social Change and Development in India
2
Understanding the present usually involves some grasp of its past. This 
holds true probably as much for an individual or social group as for an entire 
country such as India. India has a long and rich history. While knowing about 
its past in ancient and medieval times is very important, its colonial experience 
is particularly significant for comprehending modern India. This is not just 
because many modern ideas and institutions reached India through colonialism. 
It is  also because such an exposure to modern ideas was contradictory or 
paradoxical. For example, Indians in the colonial period read about western 
liberalism and freedom. Yet they lived under a western, colonial rule that denied 
Indians liberty and freedom. It is contradictions of this kind that shaped many 
of the structural and cultural changes that Chapters 1 and 2 look at. 
As the next few chapters shall show, our social reform and nationalist 
movements, our laws, our political life and our Constitution, our industry and 
agriculture, our cities and our villages have been shaped by our paradoxical 
experience with colonialism. This has had lasting implications for our specific 
experience with modernity. The following are just some of the many instances 
we face in our daily life. 
We have a parliamentary and a legal system, a police and educational 
system built very much on the British model. We drive on the left side of the 
road like the British. We have ‘bread-omlette’ and ‘cutlets’ as menu offered in 
many roadside eateries and canteens. A very popular manufacturer of biscuits, 
is actually named after Britain. Many school uniforms include neck-ties. We 
often admire the west and as often resent it. These are just some of the many 
and complex ways that British colonialism lives on in contemporary India.  
Different dimensions of modernity
Chapter 1.indd   2 14 September 2022   12:02:27
Rationalised 2023-24
Structural Change
3
Let us take the 
example of the English 
language to show how its 
impact has been many 
sided and paradoxical 
in India. This is not a 
matter about wrong 
spellings alone. English 
is not only widely used 
in India but we now 
have an impressive body 
of literary writings by 
Indians in English. This 
knowledge of English has given Indians an edge in the 
global market. But English continues to be a mark of 
privilege. Not knowing English 
is a disadvantage that tells in 
the job market. At the same time 
for those who were traditionally 
deprived of access to formal 
education such as the Dalits, 
knowledge of English may open 
doors of opportunities that were 
formerly closed.
In this chapter we focus 
on structural changes that 
colonialism brought in. We, 
therefore, need to shift from 
this broad impressionistic view 
to a clearer understanding of 
colonialism as a structure and 
system. Colonialism brought into 
being new political, economic and 
social structural changes. In this 
chapter we look at only two of these structural changes 
namely industrialisation and urbanisation. While the 
focus is on specific colonial context, we also briefly touch 
on developments after independence. 
All these structural changes were accompanied 
by cultural changes which, we look at in the next 
chapter. However any strict separation of the two is  
difficult. As you will see the structural changes are 
difficult to discuss without some mention of the cultural 
changes too. 
Virtually English 
Housewives and college students who know English take up 
plum assignments as online scorers in BPOs, writes K. Jeshi 
It is a familiar classroom scene. The only unfamiliar thing 
is the setting. Computer screens turn blackboards and 
housewives take over as teachers to evaluate English essays 
written by non-English speaking students in Asia. All, at the 
click of the mouse. The encouraging comments given by the 
evaluators here motivate students in Japan, Korea and China 
to learn English.  
Online education, the new wave in the BPO segment, 
is bringing cheer to those who want to earn a fast buck. 
All you need is a flair for English, creative skills, basic 
computer knowledge, the drive to go that extra mile and 
willingness to learn. 
Source: The HINDU, Thursday, May 04, 2006
Chapter 1.indd   3 14 September 2022   12:02:27
Rationalised 2023-24
Social Change and Development in India
4
1.1 Understanding Colonialism At one level, colonialism simply means 
the establishment of rule by one 
country over another. In the 
modern period western 
colonialism has had 
the greatest impact. 
India’s past has 
been marked by the 
entry of numerous 
groups of people 
at different times 
who have estab-
lished their rule 
over different 
parts of what 
constitutes modern 
India today. The 
impact of colonial 
rule is distinguishable 
from all other earlier 
rules because the changes 
it brought in were far-reaching 
and deep. History is full of examples 
of the annexation of foreign territory and 
the domination of weaker by stronger powers. Nevertheless, there is a vital 
difference between the empire building of pre-capitalist times and that of capitalist 
times. Apart from outright pillage, the pre-capitalist conquerors benefited from 
their domination by exacting a continuous flow of tribute. On the whole they 
did not interfere with the economic base. They simply took the tribute that 
was skimmed off the economic surplus that was produced traditionally in the 
subjugated areas. (Alavi and Shanin, 1982)
In contrast British colonialism which was based on a capitalist system 
directly interfered to ensure greatest profit and benefit to British capitalism. 
Every policy was geared towards the strengthening and expansion of British 
capitalism. For instance it changed the very laws of the land. It changed not 
just land ownership laws but decided even what crops ought to be grown and 
what ought not to be. It meddled with the manufacturing sector. It altered 
the way production and distribution of goods took place. It entered into the 
forests. It cleared trees and started tea plantations. It brought in Forest Acts 
that changed the lives of pastoralists. They were prevented from entering many 
forests that had earlier provided valuable forage for their cattle.
Chapter 1.indd   4 14 September 2022   12:02:27
Rationalised 2023-24
Structural Change
5
Colonialism also led to considerable movement of people. It led to movement 
of people from one part to another within India. For instance people from 
present day Jharkhand moved to Assam to work on the tea plantations. A 
newly emerging middle class particularly from the British Presidency regions 
of Bengal and Madras moved as government employees and professionals like 
doctors and lawyers moved to different parts of the country. People were carted 
in ships from India to work on other colonised lands in distant Asia, Africa and 
Americas.  Many died on their way. Most could never return. Today many of 
their descendents are known as people of Indian origin. 
To facilitate the smooth functioning of 
its rule, colonialism introduced a wide array 
of changes in every sphere, be it legal or 
cultural or architectural. Colonialism was 
a story apart in the very scale and intensity 
of the changes that it brought about. Some 
of these changes were deliberate while some 
took place in an unintended fashion. For 
example, we saw how western education 
was introduced to create Indians who would 
manage British colonialism. Instead it led to 
the growth of a nationalist and anti-colonial 
consciousness.   
This magnitude and depth of the structural changes that colonialism 
unleashed can be better grasped if we try and understand some basic features of 
capitalism. Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production 
are privately owned and organised to accumulate profits within a market system. 
(We have already discussed the capitalist market in the first book  – Indian 
Society.) Capitalism in the west emerged out of a complex process of European 
exploration of the rest of the world, its plunder of wealth and resources, an 
unprecedented growth of science and technology, its harnessing to industries 
and agriculture. What marked capitalism from the very beginning was its 
dynamism, its potential to grow, expand, innovate, use technology and labour 
in a way best assured to ensure greatest profit. What marked it too was its 
global nature. Western colonialism was inextricably connected to the growth of 
western capitalism. This had a lasting impact on the way capitalism developed 
in a colonised country like India. In the next section on industrialisation and 
urbanisation, we see how colonialism led to very distinct patterns.
If capitalism became the dominant economic system, nation states became 
the dominant political form. That we all live in nation states and that we all 
have a nationality or a national citizenship may appear natural to us today. 
Before the First World War passports were not widely used for international 
travel, and in most areas few people had one. Societies were, however, not 
always organised on these lines. Nation state pertains to a particular type of 
state, characteristic of the modern world. A government has sovereign power 
After 1834 till 1920, ships left from the ports 
of India on regular basis carrying people 
of various religions, gender, classes and 
castes destined to work for a minimum of five years on 
one of the plantations in Mauritius. For many decades, 
the recruiting ground was centred in Bihar, in particular, 
in districts, such as Patna, Gaya, Arrah, Saran, Tirhoot, 
Champaran, Munger (Monghyr), Bhagalpur and Purnea.
(Pineo 1984)
Box 1.1
Chapter 1.indd   5 14 September 2022   12:02:27
Rationalised 2023-24
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FAQs on NCERT Textbook - Structural Change - Old & New NCERTs for IAS Preparation (Must Read) - UPSC

1. What is structural change?
Ans. Structural change refers to the long-term shift in the composition of an economy, where there is a significant change in the relative importance of different sectors such as agriculture, industry, and services. It involves a transformation of the economic structure, leading to changes in production techniques, employment patterns, and the overall organization of an economy.
2. What are the factors that drive structural change in an economy?
Ans. Several factors can drive structural change in an economy. These include technological advancements, changes in consumer preferences, globalization and trade liberalization, government policies, and demographic shifts. Each of these factors can influence the relative competitiveness and productivity of different sectors, leading to changes in their importance within the overall economy.
3. How does structural change impact employment patterns?
Ans. Structural change can have significant implications for employment patterns. As economies undergo structural transformation, there is often a shift of labor from traditional sectors like agriculture to more modern sectors like industry and services. This can lead to changes in the distribution of employment across sectors and can also impact the quality of jobs available. In some cases, structural change may result in job displacements and require retraining or reskilling of workers.
4. What are the challenges associated with structural change?
Ans. Structural change can pose various challenges for an economy. One challenge is the need to ensure a smooth transition for workers and industries affected by the shift in the economic structure. This may involve providing support for retraining and reskilling, as well as implementing policies that promote inclusive growth. Another challenge is managing the potential disruptions that can arise during the transition, such as unemployment or income inequality. Additionally, structural change may require significant investments in infrastructure and technology to support the growth of new sectors.
5. Can structural change contribute to economic growth?
Ans. Yes, structural change can contribute to economic growth. As economies move towards more productive sectors and adopt advanced technologies, it can lead to increased efficiency and productivity, which are key drivers of economic growth. Furthermore, structural change often involves diversification, allowing economies to reduce their dependence on a single sector and become more resilient to external shocks. However, the extent to which structural change translates into sustained economic growth depends on various factors, including the quality of institutions, access to finance, and the ability to adapt to changing global conditions.
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