At the time of independence, the Indian Economy showed all signs of stagnation including low economic growth, lack of heavy industries, unemployment, illiteracy, widespread poverty and so on. In 1940s, despite the agricultural growth many lives were taken away by the Bengal famine from starvation, disease and destitution. It was not the only tragedy that ravaged Indian lands but in the late 19th and early 20th century several famines struck India which took heavy toll on life of many millions.

In 1950s, the poverty rate was estimated at around 65% which was a very alarming figure. During that period poverty was estimated according to calorie consumption needs. Poverty was a grave challenge during independence though the estimation varied as there was no consensus on the method of estimation of poverty
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