Studies & research on India’s population
India’s population is estimated to be close to 1.37 billion in 2020, with a growth rate of 1.08%. The country will overtake the most populous country, China, to become the most populous country on planet earth. India’s population is equal to 17.7% of the world population.
India’s population has crossed 1.21 billion as per the Census of 2011. The ratio of girls to boys is 914 girls per 1,000 boys—[for children 6 and younger]. The ratio was 927 girls to 1,000 boys in the previous census.
The population in India on 1st March 2001 stood at 1,027,015,247 persons. With this, India became only the second country in the world after China to cross the one billion mark. ( India is the 2nd most populated country in the world)
India’s estimated population was expected to be 1,129,866,154, in July 2007.
India’s population rose by 21.34 % between 1991 – 2001. The sex ratio (i.e., number of females per thousand males) of the population was 933, rising from 927 as at the 1991 Census. The total literacy rate in India was returned as 65.38%.
Source: Provisional Population Totals: India. Census of India 2001, Paper 1 of 2001
Structure and Dynamics
The population of India. Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world’s land area, it supports over 15% of the world’s population. Only China has a larger population. Almost 40% of Indians are younger than 15 years of age. About 70% of the people live in more than 550,000 villages, and the remainder in more than 200 towns and cities. Over thousands of years of its history, India has been invaded from the Iranian plateau, Central Asia, Arabia, Afghanistan, and the West; Indian people and culture have absorbed and changed these influences to produce a remarkable racial and cultural synthesis.
Religion, caste, and language are major determinants of social and political organization in India today. The government has recognized 18 languages as official; Hindi is the most widely spoken.
Although 83% of the people are Hindu, India also is the home of more than 120 million Muslims–one of the world’s largest Muslim populations. The population also includes Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, and Parsis.
The caste system reflects Indian occupational and religiously defined hierarchies. Traditionally, there are four broad categories of castes (varnas), including a category of outcastes, earlier called “untouchables,” but now commonly referred to as “Dalits.”
Within these broad categories, there are thousands of castes and subcastes, whose relative status varies from region to region.
Despite economic modernization and laws countering discrimination against the lower end of the class structure, the caste system remains an important source of social identification for most
Hindus and a potent factor in the political life of the country.
India Population: The 1991 final census count gave India a total population of 846,302,688. However, estimates of India’s population vary widely. According to the Population Division of the United Nations Department of International Economic and Social Affairs, the population had already reached 866 million in 1991. The Population Division of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) projected 896.5 million by mid-1993 with a 1.9 percent annual growth rate. The United States Bureau of the Census, assuming an annual population growth rate of 1.8 percent, but India’s population in July 1995 at 936,545,814. These higher projections merit attention because the Planning Commission had estimated a figure of 844 million for 1991 while preparing the Eighth Five-Year Plan (FY 1992-96; see Population Projections, this ch.).
India accounts for some 2.4 percent of the world’s landmass but is home to about 16 percent of the global population. The magnitude of the annual increase in population can be seen in the fact that India adds almost the total population of Australia or Sri Lanka every year. A 1992 study of India’s population notes that India has more people than all of Africa and also more than North America and South America together. Between 1947 and 1991, India’s population more than doubled.
Throughout the twentieth century, India has been in the midst of a demographic transition. At the beginning of the century, endemic disease, periodic epidemics, and famines kept the death rate high enough to balance out the high birth rate. Between 1911 and 1920, the birth and death rates were virtually equal–about forty-eight births and forty-eight deaths per 1,000 population. The increasing impact of curative and preventive medicine (especially mass inoculations) brought a steady decline in the death rate. By the mid-1990s, the estimated birth rate had fallen to twenty-eight per 1,000, and the estimated death rate had dropped to ten per 1,000. The future configuration of India’s population (indeed the future of India itself) depends on what happens to the birth rate (see fig. 8). Even the most optimistic projections do not suggest that the birth rate could drop below twenty per 1,000 before the year 2000. India’s population is likely to exceed the 1 billion mark before the 2001 census.
The upward population in India spiral began in the 1920s and is reflected in intercensal growth increments. South Asia’s population increased roughly 5 percent between 1901 and 1911 and declined slightly in the next decade. The population increased some 10 percent in the period from 1921 to 1931 and 13 to 14 percent in the 1930s and 1940s. Between 1951 and 1961, the population rose 21.5 percent. Between 1961 and 1971, the country’s population increased by 24.8 percent. After that, a slight slowing of the increase was experienced: from 1971 to 1981, the population increased by 24.7 percent, and from 1981 to 1991, by 23.9 percent (see table 3, Appendix).
The population in India density has risen concomitantly with the massive increases in population. In 1901 India counted some seventy-seven persons per square kilometer; in 1981, there were 216 persons per square kilometer; by 1991, there were 267 persons per square kilometer–up almost 25 percent from the 1981 population density (see table 4, Appendix). India’s average population density is higher than that of any other nation of comparable size. The highest densities are not only in heavily urbanized regions but also in areas that are mostly agricultural.
The population of India growth in the years between 1950 and 1970 centered on areas of new irrigation projects, areas subject to refugee resettlement, and regions of urban expansion. Areas, where the population did not increase at a rate approaching the national average, were those facing the most severe economic hardships, overpopulated rural areas, and regions with low levels of urbanization.
The 1991 census, which was carried out under the direction of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India (part of the Ministry of Home Affairs), in keeping with the previous two censuses, used the term urban agglomerations. An urban agglomeration forms a continuous urban spread and consists of a city or town and its urban outgrowth outside the statutory limits. Or, an urban agglomerate maybe two or more adjoining cities or towns and their outgrowths. A university campus or military base located on the outskirts of a city or town, which often increases the actual urban area of that city or town, is an example of an urban agglomeration. In India, urban agglomerations with a population of 1 million or more–there were twenty-four in 1991–are referred to as metropolitan areas. Places with a population of 100,000 or more are termed “cities” as compared with “towns,” which have a population of less than 100,000. Including the metropolitan areas, there were 299 urban agglomerations with more than 100,000 population in 1991. These large urban agglomerations are designated as Class I urban units. There were five other classes of urban agglomerations, towns, and villages based on the size of their populations: Class II (50,000 to 99,999), Class III (20,000 to 49,999), Class IV (10,000 to 19,999), Class V (5,000 to 9,999), and Class VI (villages of less than 5,000; see table 5, Appendix).
The results of the 1991 census revealed that around 221 million, or 26.1 percent, of Indian’s population, lived in urban areas. Of this total, about 138 million people, or 16 percent, lived in the 299 urban agglomerations. In 1991 the twenty-four metropolitan cities accounted for 51 percent of India’s total population residing in Class I urban centers, with Bombay and Calcutta the largest at 12.6 million and 10.9 million, respectively (see table 6, Appendix).
In the early 1990s, growth was the most dramatic in the cities of central and southern India. About twenty cities in those two regions experienced a growth rate of more than 100 percent between 1981 and 1991. Areas subject to an influx of refugees also experienced noticeable demographic changes. Refugees from Bangladesh, Burma, and Sri Lanka contributed substantially to population growth in the regions in which they settled. Less dramatic population increases occurred in areas where Tibetan refugee settlements were founded after the Chinese annexation of Tibet in the 1950s.
The majority of districts had urban populations ranging on average from 15 to 40 percent in 1991. According to the 1991 census, urban clusters predominated in the upper part of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, in the Punjab and Haryana plains, and part of western Uttar Pradesh. The lower part of the Indo-Gangetic Plain in southeastern Bihar, southern West Bengal, and northern Orissa also experienced increased urbanization. Similar increases occurred in the western coastal state of Gujarat and the union territory of Daman and Diu. In the Central Highlands in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, urbanization was most noticeable in the river basins and adjacent plateau regions of the Mahanadi, Narmada, and Tapti rivers. The coastal plains and river deltas of the east and west coasts also showed increased levels of urbanization.
The hilly, inaccessible regions of the Peninsular Plateau, the northeast, and the Himalayas remain sparsely settled. As a general rule, the lower the population density and the more remote the region, the more likely it is to count a substantial portion of tribal (see Glossary) people among its population (see Tribes, ch. 4). Urbanization in some sparsely settled regions is more developed than would seem warranted at first glance at their limited natural resources. Areas of western India that were formerly princely states (in Gujarat and the desert regions of Rajasthan) have substantial urban centers that originated as political-administrative centers and since independence has continued to exercise hegemony over their hinterlands.
The vast majority of Indians, nearly 625 million, or 73.9 percent, in 1991, lived in what are called villages of less than 5,000 people or in scattered hamlets and other rural settlements (see The Village Community, ch. 5). The states with proportionately the most significant rural populations in 1991 were the states of Assam (88.9 percent), Sikkim (90.9 percent) and Himachal Pradesh (91.3 percent), and the tiny union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli (91.5 percent). Those with the smallest rural populations proportionately were the states of Gujarat (65.5 percent), Maharashtra (61.3 percent), Goa (58.9 percent), and Mizoram (53.9 percent). Most of the other states and the union territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were near the national average.
Two other categories of India’s population that are closely scrutinized by the national census are the Scheduled Castes (see Glossary) and Scheduled Tribes (see Glossary). The greatest concentrations of Scheduled Caste members in 1991 lived in the states of Andhra Pradesh (10.5 million, or nearly 16 percent of the state’s population), Tamil Nadu (10.7 million, or 19 percent), Bihar (12.5 million, or 14 percent), West Bengal (16 million, or 24 percent), and Uttar Pradesh (29.3 million, or 21 percent). Together, these and other Scheduled Caste members comprised about 139 million people or more than 16 percent of the total population of India. Scheduled Tribe members represented only 8 percent of the total population (about 68 million). They were found in 1991 in the greatest numbers in Orissa (7 million, or 23 percent of the state’s population), Maharashtra (7.3 million, or 9 percent), and Madhya Pradesh (15.3 million, or 23 percent). In proportion, however, the populations of states in the northeast had the greatest concentrations of Scheduled Tribe members. For example, 31 percent of the population of Tripura, 34 percent of Manipur, 64 percent of Arunachal Pradesh, 86 percent of Meghalaya, 88 percent of Nagaland, and 95 percent of Mizoram were Scheduled Tribe members. Other heavy concentrations were found in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, 79 percent of which was composed of Scheduled Tribe members, and Lakshadweep, with 94 percent of its population being Scheduled Tribe members.