• Tuesday, August 20, 2019
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Labour

The Mughal Empire’s workforce in the early 17th century consisted of about 64% in the primary sector (including agriculture) and 36% in the secondary and tertiary sectors, including over 11% in the secondary sector (manufacturing) and about 25% in the tertiary sector (service). Mughal India’s workforce had a higher percentage in the non-primary sector than Europe’s workforce did at the time; agriculture accounted for 65–90% of Europe’s workforce in 1700, and 65–75% in 1750, including 65% of England’s workforce in 1750. In terms of contributions to the Mughal economy, in the late 16th century, the primary sector contributed 52.4%, the secondary sector 18.2% and the tertiary sector 29.4%; the secondary sector contributed a higher percentage than in early 20th-century British India, where the secondary sector only contributed 11.2% to the economy. In terms of urban-rural divide, 18% of Mughal India’s labour force were urban and 82% were rural, contributing 52% and 48% to the economy, respectively.
Real wages and living standards in 18th-century Mughal Bengal and South India were higher than in Britain, which in turn had the highest living standards in Europe. According to economic historian Paul Bairoch, India as well as China had a higher GNP per capita than Europe up until the late 18th century, before Western European per-capita income pulled ahead after 1800. Mughal India also had a higher per-capita income in the late 16th century than British India did in the early 20th century. However, in a system where wealth was hoarded by elites, wages were depressed for manual labour, though no less than labour wages in Europe at the time. In Mughal India, there was a generally tolerant attitude towards manual labourers, with some religious cults in northern India proudly asserting a high status for manual labour

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