Recollections and reflections

Reminiscences, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai

I first came in contact with Subhas Bose in 1923 at Delhi when the Congress was divided into two groups over the question of what was known as 'Council Entry.'...Subhas Babu, as the favourite lieutenant of Deshabandhu, was playing a prominent part in the controversy. more>>

Another very important point to be noted in connection with the growth of Indo-British trade is that it has more or less kept pace with the progress of the foreign trade of Great Britain. This means that while the United Kingdom declined in her relative importance in India's foreign trade, India fully retained hers in Great Britain. Indeed till the outbreak of the last war, India was actually gaining in her relative importance, the growth of Indo-British trade being ahead of that of Britain's total trade. Since then, India slightly declined in her position, the subsequent developments in the United Kingdom's foreign trade being a little quicker than those with India. On the whole, the percentage share of India in Britain's trade remained more or less the same, while her percentage share in India's trade was continuously on the decline. It is, therefore, important to note in connection with the prospects of British trade in India that the United Kingdom showed as much progress in her trade with India as with other countries. The contrast is indeed striking. The following are the corroborative index numbers:

        Total trade
of U.K.    Indo-British
trade
Average    1875-79    100    100
Average    1885-89    104    144
Average    1895-99    121    141
Average    1905-09    178    210
Average    1910-13    208    265
Average    1914-18    301    270
Year    1920    585    428
Year    1921    322    327
Year    1925    388    326

Regarding the percentage share of India in Britain's total trade, it should be observed that India occupies no such eminent position as the United Kingdom does in India. Indo-British trade represents only a fraction of Britain's total trade. It is true that as a consumer of British goods, India occupies the foremost place; but while these represent about 50 per cent of our total imports, they scarcely amount to 12 per cent of Britain's total exports. The same is the case with Britain as a consumer of Indian goods. Thus, while the share of the United Kingdom in our export trade amounted to 25.5 per cent, in 1924-25, India's share in Britain's import trade amounted to only 5.7 per cent in 1924.

The following figures bring out more clearly the position India occupies in the foreign trade of Great Britain:

Year 1924: Value in Millions of £
Exports from U.K. to        Import into U.K. from   
India    90.6    U.S.A.    222.6
Australia    60.7    Argentina    75.2
U.S.A.    53.8    India    65.1
Germany    42.6    Canada    62.7

Considered as a whole, during the year 1924, India's share in the total trade of the United Kingdom was only 8 per cent, while Britain's share in that of India was as much as 36 per cent.