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Occupational Structure of India

Last Updated : 21 Jan, 2024
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The occupational structure of a country refers to the number of workforces which is employed in various economic ventures. In other words, the number of the working population employed in agriculture and the associated activities and the number of people involved in manufacturing and the service sectors is known as the occupational structure of the nation.

Occupational structure of India


Features of Occupational Structure in India

Some important features when we look at the occupational structure of India are as follows:

Features of Occupational structure of India


Dominance of the Agricultural Sector

Around 70-75 percent of the population of India is employed in the agricultural sector of the economy, which forms the main backbone of the country. With more than half of the population of the country being engaged in the agricultural sector, other sectors of the economy like the industries couldn’t see a boom in the stream of revenue and this is one of the many reasons why the Indian economy never rose to prominence in the pre-Independence years.

The balance was missing in the structure of occupations. The primary sector of the economy attracted more people and the secondary tertiary sector was always far behind compared to the primary.

Regional Dissimilarities 

Some states like West Bengal, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu along with Maharashtra saw a significant portion of people moving from the agricultural sector to other sectors like secondary and tertiary sectors, which kind of balances the unbalanced occupational structure of the country.

Some other states like Punjab, Orissa, and Rajasthan shifted their utmost focus on agriculture and continued to do so till the present. The overall scenario of the economy, helped the Indian economy to balance itself and the sectors contributing to the economy in an equal way.

Types of Occupations

Occupation refers to the principal work which a person carries out on a daily basis to earn living. It provides for a person’s subsistence, which helps them to earn whatever is possible to cover all the basic requirements of life.

Occupations of a country are mostly divided into category of three. These occupation division helps to know how expansive and diverse is the occupation of a country. The three types of occupations are as follows:

  • Primary Occupations: These refer to the activities which involve agriculture, construction, and also animal husbandry.
  • Secondary Occupations: These refer to the occupations of the people who work in the sectors of manufacturing and servicing industries.
  • Tertiary Occupations: The tertiary sector of the occupations include the population who work in the communications, transport, administration and other remaining services of the economy.

Occupational Structure in Colonial India

In Colonial India, the occupational structure of India experienced very small changes overall. The agricultural sector was placed in the highest share of the workforce of the country, which was normally as high as around 70-75%, while in the case of manufacturing and the service sector, the estimates were only at 10 and 15-20 percent respectively.

There were some regional variations that were seen in some parts of the country. Madras Presidency, Bombay, and also Bengal observed a drop in the dependence on the workforce of the agricultural sector with an increase in the secondary and tertiary sectors. However, there was a kind of increase at the same time in the workforce of agriculture in some states like Rajasthan, Odisha, and also Punjab.

The policy of the British in the case of commerce had paved the way for the introduction of machine-made goods from the British in India, which led to the destruction of traditional Indian handicrafts and this forced the laborers of this household industry to kind of being engaged in agricultural activities for basic livelihood.

Industrial activities were very restricted to mostly plantation agriculture and textile industry and were supported by imported machinery, which did not boom industrialization in India and thus industrialization had created little impact on the employment generation in the context of India. However, certain services associated with modernization expanded during colonial rule like education, medical and legal systems.

Occupational Structure Post-Independence

The advancement of industrialization after 1947, changed the occupational structure of India greatly. The previous dependence on the agricultural sector altered and many people shifted to secondary and tertiary sectors. The Government of India paid more attention to planning as well transferred a part of the workforce into the industrial sector.

This helped to create a kind of balance in the Indian economy as well as the entire population of the country. After Independence, equal amounts of revenue were collected from the other occupational sectors as well, and hence a kind of balance came to be forged in different sectors of the economy.

The population came to be earning from different sources of the economy. The dependence on agriculture as their primary source of income came to be reduced and there were increasing employment opportunities in the whole country. Rural areas came to focus on the agricultural sector and those living in the urban areas came to be dependent on the secondary and tertiary sectors for occupational structure, which now came to fetch equal amounts of revenue.

The introduction of the Planning Commission and the process of planned economic development anticipated rapid progress as well as an increase in the development of irrigation, power, some basic industries, other manufacturing, and also the expansion of tertiary activities in the service sector. However, there were glitches and the shift from agricultural to other sectors was not successful completely.

Economic Development of the Occupational Structure

The economic development of the country gives rise to different kinds of occupations in the economy of the country and these occupations are classified into primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors. In countries that are underdeveloped, a huge part of the population is involved in agriculture.

With the development of small-scale industries, a lot of employment opportunities are generated in secondary and tertiary sectors, which are labor-intensive in nature. The tertiary sector is also very important as it generates a lot of employment.

Changes in the occupational structure result in changes in the economic development of the nation, and more working population is shifted from engrossment in the primary sector to secondary and tertiary sectors, rate of economic development along with that of per capita income also rises.

FAQs on the Occupational Structure of India

Question 1: To what extent is the occupational structure a good indicator of the level of economic development in a country?


The proportion of the working population engaged in the three sectors of the economy is a good indicator of the economic development of the country. It is because the economy with the industries and infrastructure accommodates more workers in the secondary and tertiary sectors.

Question 2: Write the features of India’s Occupational structure.


In pre-independence India, the occupational structure includes increased dependence on agriculture, a lack of opportunities in industries, and unbalanced growth that affects the economy.

Question 3: What is the relation between occupational structures and development?


Both concepts are related to each other as the more percentage of the population involved in primary sector, would indicate less development in the country.

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