Economy of a society is one of the important factors in determining the progress of the society. It is interesting to note the economic history of the country right from the Indus Valley Civilization.
History of Indian economy may be traced back to the Indus Valley civilization. The Indus Valley people had developed a prosperous civilization on the basis of thriving agricultural economy.
Domestication of animals was another useful profession. They had trade relations. They produced wheat, barley, and varieties of fruits, date palm and millet. They domesticated animals and birds for the purpose of milk, meat and pleasure. The carpenter, the weaver, the potter, the goldsmith, the jewelers, the physician, the house builders etc represented other professions of this society.
Vedic people were rural and agricultural. They domesticated animals like cow, sheep, goat, ass, ox and dog. The wealth of the people was known in terms of cattle rearing. The Rig Vedic Indians resorted to hunting for livelihood. Aryans had not discovered Iron during the Rig Vedic period. Mining was another important occupation.
In the later period, the economic life of the Aryans was well advanced and prosperous. The growth of the cities was the best proof of it. Agriculture was still their major occupation. Cattle rearing were another important occupation. They were organized into guilds. The Aryans had more extensive knowledge of different kinds of metals. Besides gold and copper, they also used silver and iron.
Then was the period of various empires in India including the Gupta and the Mauryan Empire. The Mauryan Empire brought large areas of land under cultivation. Land revenue was recognized as an important source of income. Assessment of land also took place at regular intervals. One fourth of the national income was spent on public works development and salaries of the large staff. Public works included road construction, irrigation, rest house construction, army maintained etc.
Iron was widely used in the Mauryan society. During excavations different types of iron tools like socketed axes, sickles and possibly ploughshares, have been found. These tools must have made the task of clearing the thick forests of the Eastern Ganges Plains easy. Additionally, these tools also facilitated the efficiency of agriculture. Numerous small heaps of iron slogs have been found scattered all over the iron belt of South Bihar.