Population – distribution, growth, Demographic characteristics


India’s population is young. Its birth and death rates are both near the global average. More than half the population is under age 30 and less than one-fourth is age 45 or older. Life expectancy is about 68 for men and 70 for women.

A population explosion in India commenced following the great influenza epidemic of 1918–19. In subsequent decades there was a steadily accelerating rate of growth up to the census of 1961, after which the rate leveled off (though it remained high). The total population in 1921 within the present borders of India (i.e., excluding what is now Pakistan and Bangladesh) was 251 million, and in 1947, at the time of independence, it was about 340 million. India’s population doubled between 1947 and the 1981 census, and by the 2001 census it had surpassed one billion. The increase between 1991 and 2001 alone—more than 182 million—was greater than the total present-day population of all but the world’s most-populous countries, and that value was matched by the increase between 2001 and 2011. Although there has been a considerable drop in the birth rate, a much more rapid decline in the death rate has accounted for the rise in the country’s rate of population growth. Moreover, the increasing proportion of females attaining and living through their childbearing years continues to inhibit a marked reduction in the birth rate.

The effect of emigration from or immigration to India on the overall growth of population has been negligible throughout modern history. Within India, however, migration from relatively impoverished regions to areas, especially cities, offering some promise of economic betterment has been largely responsible for the differential growth rates from one state or region to another. In general, the larger a city, the greater its proportion of migrants to the total population and the more cosmopolitan its population mix. In Mumbai, for example, more than half of the population speaks languages other than Marathi, the principal language of the state of Maharashtra. The rates of migration to Indian cities severely tax their capacity to cope with the newcomers’ needs for housing, safe drinking water, and sanitary facilities, not to mention amenities. The result is that many migrants live in conditions of appalling squalor in bastis or, even worse, with no permanent shelter at all.


West Bengal ranks as the state with the maximum density of population in India and its area is 88,752 sq km. As stated by the census conducted in 2001, the population density of West Bengal was 904. In 1991, West Bengal had a population of 68,077,965 and its density of population was 767. According to the census of 2001, the total population of West Bengal was 8,01,76,197. The state with the lowest population density is Arunachal Pradesh and the Union Territory with the lowest density of population is Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The Union Territory with the highest population density is Delhi.


Literacy in India is a key for socio-economic progress, and the Indian literacy rate has grown to 74.04% (2011 provisional census figures). Despite government programmes, India’s literacy rate increased only “sluggishly”. The 2011 census, indicated a 2001–2011 decadal literacy growth of 9.2%, which is slower than the growth seen during the previous decade. An old 1990 study estimated that it would take until 2060 for India to achieve universal literacy at then-current rate of progress. There is a wide gender disparity in the literacy rate in India: effective literacy rates (age 7 and above) in 2011 were 80.9% for men and 64.60% for women. The low female literacy rate has had a dramatically negative impact on family planning and population stabillisation efforts in India. Studies have indicated that female literacy is a strong predictor of the use of contraception among married Indian couples, even when women do not otherwise have economic independence. The census provided a positive indication that growth in female literacy rates (11.8%) was substantially faster than in male literacy rates (6.9%) in the 2001–2011 decadal period, which means the gender gap appears to be narrowing. According to the National Family and Health Survey (NFHS-4) conducted in 2015-16, Jains form the wealthiest community in India. Jains have the highest literacy rate (87%) in India, in the 7-years to oldest age group, according to its 2011 census. The Jain community also has the highest number of college graduates.



Sex-ratio of india


Sex ratio is used to describe the number of females per 1000 of males. Sex ratio is a valuable source for finding the population of women in India and what is the ratio of women to that of men in India. In the Population Census of 2011 it was revealed that the population ratio in India 2011 is 940 females per 1000 of males. The Sex Ratio 2011 shows an upward trend from the census 2001 data. Census 2001 revealed that there were 933 females to that of 1000 males. Since decades India has seen a decrease in the sex ratio 2011, but since the last two of the decades there has been in slight increase in the sex ratio. Since the last five decades the sex ratio has been moving around 930 of females to that of 1000 of males.

The major cause of the decrease of the female birth ratio in India is considered to be the violent treatments meted out to the girl child at the time of the birth. The Sex Ratio in India was almost normal during the phase of the years of independence, but thereafter it started showing gradual signs of decrease. Though the Sex Ratio in India has gone through commendable signs of improvement in the past 10 years, there are still some states where the sex ratio is still low and is a cause of concern for the NGO organizations. One of the states which is showing a decreasing trend in the population of women 2011 and is a cause of concern is Haryana. The state of Haryana has the lowest rate of sex ratio in India and the figure shows a number of 877 of females to that of 1000 of males.

Rural- urban structure

An interesting aspect of the 2011 Census was that for the first time since India’s independence, the absolute increase in surveyed population was found to be more in urban areas than in rural areas .The Level of Urbanisation in India, which is also regarded as an index of economic development , increased from 27.81% in 2001 to 31.16% in the 2011 Census. Census of India 2011 revealed that there are a total of 7,935 towns in the country.  It is interesting to note that the number of towns has increased by 2,774 since the last Census (of 2011). What is even more interesting to note is the fact that out of the total 7,936 towns, 6,166 are part of the urban frame of the country by being clustered together as urban agglomerations of variable sizes . Only 1,770 towns in India are independent of any urban clustering. The total number of towns/ cities in India with population above 1,00,000 (One Lakh or 0.1 million) is 468. These are also known as Class I Cities/ Towns.


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