India was one of the richest countries in the world before British came to India in the 17th century. Indeed, had India not been rich, British would not bother to invade and enslave India. Then once British defeated all the Indian Rajahs and Maharajahs in battles and took over political control of the country, they systematically began a policy of extracting wealth from the people. They did so by imposing punitive taxes, not allowing economic or political freedom, not giving the people the right to compete freely at business. The state ruled over the individual. When India became free, the successive Indian governments led by Nehru and his progeny followed the same policy of the Brits, with brown sahibs taking over from the white sahibs.... socialism and the accompanying bureaucratic rule taking over from the imperialism of the Brits. As a result, India's rise was stunted. Over the last couple of decades, socialism has been restricted some-what and a bit of free market capitalism is allowed, so there has been a major change in India. For instance, India's economy was 1/4th that of British economy in 1991. Today both countries have equal size economies in terms of GDP. But descendants of Nehru are still in power and as long as they are in power, they will not allow real free market capitalism in India, and allow the transfer of power from the state to the individual.
India is poor (albeit not as poor as before), not because of religion or caste system... but because Indians only got freedom to elect their rulers ....not the freedom to rule themselves. .....i.e, India is poor because we have political freedom, but not economic freedom.