In this article, You will read Population Growth in India (Demographics of India) – for UPSC (Population and Settlement Geography).

Population growth in India

  • Demographics refer to statistical data relating to the population in a region. This covers various factors like population growth rate, the percentage of different age groups within the population, the literacy rates, the sex ratio, urban-rural population ratios, etc.
  • According to the 2011 census, India has a 1.21 billion population.
  • It comprises of 17.5% of the world’s population with 2.4 % of the world’s land area.
  • In terms of population, India is the second-largest country of the world and despite its growth rate declining, India continues to be a high-growth country.
  • Approximately one out of every six people in the world is from India. India’s population is almost equal to the combined population of the USA, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Japan together.
  • India’s population is a little over twice the population of Latin America and 1.2 times the population of the whole of Africa.
  • In terms of area, India stands seventh preceded by Russia, Canada, China, the United States of America, Brazil, and Australia.
  • Barring China, the total population of these large five countries is far less than that of India. The total area of these five countries is over sixteen times whereas their total population is much less than that of India. This may partly explain how handicapped we are because of our huge population. It can also be revealed from the fact that the total population of North America, South America, and Australia added together is less than the population of India.
  • On top of it, we are adding over 17 million people each year. It is more than the total population of Australia. In fact, the net addition to the Chinese population each year is less than ours.
Demographics of India 2011 Census
The population of India by state (UTs not included)

Given below is the population of various Indian states as per the Census 2011:

Most populatedPopulationLeast populatedPopulation
1Uttar Pradesh199,812,3411Sikkim610,577
3Bihar104,099,4523Arunachal Pradesh1,383,727
4West Bengal91,276,1154Goa1,458,545
5Madhya Pradesh72,626,8095Nagaland1,980,602
Population density (persons per sq. km) by state (UTs not included)
1Bihar11061Arunachal Pradesh17
2 West Bengal10282Mizoram52
4Uttar Pradesh8284Nagaland119
5 Haryana5735Manipur122

Stages of India’s population growth

Phase 1 (1901-1921)- Period of stagnant population

  • This phase is also known as the Primitive Demographic Transition Stage. It is the stage I of Demographic Transition Model Theory.
  • This stage is characterized by the following traits:
    • Very high Birth Rate and Death Rate ( approximately 40/ thousand)
    • Epidemics, famines, droughts, lakhs of Indian soldiers in World War I.
    • Low life expectancy.
  • 1921 recorded an absolute decline in population numbers. The year 1921 is known as the year of the Demographic Divide.
  • From the view of population studies, India has been divided into 6 zones:
6 Zones of India
  • During 1901-21, Northern Zone suffered a net loss in population due to famines and epidemics.
  • North-East zone witnessed a very high growth rate due to large-scale in-migration (migration of labors in Tea plantation estates of Assam) and less famines and epidemics.
  • The southern zone witnessed a normal Growth Rate since epidemics and famines were less.

Phase 2 (1921-1951)- Period of steady growth

  • India entered in 2nd stage of the Demographic Transition Model Theory.
  • The birth rate was still high but the death rate reduced (around 20/thousand) therefore, the population due to less mortality induced growth. Reasons for high growth are:
    • Intervention by government
    • Vaccination
    • Medical revolution
    • PDS system led to the timely food supply in drought and famine area
  • The population increased from 251 million to 361 million.
  • Spatial analysis:
    • North, Eastern, Southern Zone registered growth rates close to the national average.
    • Central zone registered a low growth rate due to higher mortality and outmigration
    • Western zone registered high growth of 56% partially due to national growth and mainly due to in-migration caused by industrial growth in Mumbai, Ahmadabad, Vadodara, and Surat.

Phase 3 (1951-1981)- Period of rapid population growth

  • India still in 2nd phase of Demographic Transition Model Theory
  • This stage referred to as the period of population explosion.
  • There was a steep fall in mortality rate (12/1000 in 1981) but the fertility rate was still high (40/1000).
  • The population increased from 361 million to 683.3 million in 1981.
  • This population growth was due to improvements in health facilities and developmental activities. Thus it was called as fertility-induced growth.
  • Northern Zone experienced a high growth rate whereas Southern Zone experienced a low growth rate.

Phase 4 (1981-2011)- Period of high population growth rate with a definite sigh of slowing down

  • Although the growth rate was still high but it started declining after 1981 (highest growth rate was in 1971- 2.48%).
  • India experienced 3rd phase of Demographic Transition Model Theory.
  • North and South zone has highest and lowest growth rate respectively.
  • The birth rate declined rapidly from 36/1000 to 22.5/1000 in 2009.
  • The death rate also continued to decline.
  • Although in 2001 Census India added 182 million people over 1991 Census. In 2011 180 million people was added over 2001 Census which implies a definite decline in growth rate in percentage and absolute terms.
  • Since the 2001 census India continues with consistent irreversible population growth rate.
  • In 2011 there has been decline in child population below 14 years of age.
  • The policy objective is to stabilise India’s population at 1.8 billion by 2041 census and India is expected to cross China’s population by 2028 as per UNFPA report.
  • Further trends in population growth in India according to UN Economic and Social Affairs
Trends in population growth
Trends in population growth india

Spatial patterns of growth rate in India

  • India has high growth rates but the growth trends are different in different states. Thus there is spatial-temporal variation in population growth.
  • The southern states of India (Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh) have nearly stabilized or are stabilising their population.
  • Northern Hindi belt continues to have very high growth rate (Bihar has the highest growth rate of 25% followed by Jammu and Kashmir with 23.7% growth rate and Uttar Pradesh with 20% growth rate.
  • Among the smaller states and union territories, Dadar and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu registered the highest growth rate of 55.5 and 53.54 percent respectively.
  • In contrast, Lakshadweep, Andaman Nicobar Islands, and Goa have registered low growth rate remaining in single digit only. A glaring downtrend in the growth has been observed in Nagaland, where there had been a steep fall in growth rate from 6453 per cent in 1991, 2001 to a negative growth rate of -0.47 per cent mainly due to conflicts, mortality and out-migration.
  • The second minimum growth of 4.86 percent has been recorded by Kerala. This state has reached a high level of demographic transition and can be easily compared with the advanced countries of Europe and America.
  • Some of the more populous states have registered a very high growth rate of over 20 percent. Among them, Bihar (25.07%), Jammu & Kashmir (23.71%), Chhattisgarh (2259%) and Jharkhand (2234) are worth noting. Some other states with a small population but a higher growth rate are Meghalaya (27.82%) and Arunachal Pradesh (25.92%).
  • Some of the fastest-growing centres are the Industrial and Urban areas due to high immigration due to high employment aspects.
image 2
Population Growth in Empowered action group and Non-Empowered action group states
  • For a close analysis, the Indian states and Onion territories are divided into two broad groups namely Empowered Action Group (EAG) and non-Empowered Action Group (non-EAG).
  • EAG includes Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha.
  • The remaining states and union territories are included in non-EAG.
  • The EAG states hosted between 43 and 46 percent of India’s population.
  • During the period of two decades between 1951 and 1971, the population of both EAG and non-EAG states and union territories increased which led to the overall increase in the population of India.
  • From 1971 onwards, the growth rate in non-EAG states and union territories declined continuously due to declining in fertility rate and the growth rate in EAG states almost stagnated around 25 percent.
  • During 1991-2001, the growth rate for EAG states remained the same as that in the previous decade whereas there was a continuous reduction in the growth rate of non-EAG states and union territories. This was primarily responsible for bringing about a significant fall of about 23 percent in the growth rate of the country as a whole.
  • During 2001-2011, for the first time in the demographic history of the country, the growth momentum for EAG states has given the signal of slowing down, falling by about 4 percent points. Thus, together with a similar reduction in non-EAG states and union territories has brought down the rate of growth for the country by 3.9 percent.
image 1

Reasons for India’s high growth rate in India

  • Poverty: Lack of institutional deliveries leads to a high death rates among the poor, thus the poor have more children leading to a high birth rate among them, who see them as bread earner.
  • Traditional Societies: Joint families, early marriage, and preference of male child leads to the missing of reproductive rights of female and an increase in population.
  • According to the NPP (National Population Policy) of 2000, there are three main immediate reasons for population growth.
    • A very large proportion of the population in the reproductive age span, so even if TFR reduces the total growth of the population will be high and this problem is compounded by:
      • Early marriage: A woman is exposed to reproductive age span for a longer time.
      • Frequent and unwanted pregnancies: It is related to lack of education and lack of health care.
      • Desire of boy child: According to NPP this reason is alone responsible for 60% of India’s growth rate.
    • High IMR, related to the insecurities of families about the number of children who will actually survive them to their old age. Also, it is considered inauspicious if family doesn’t have children. High IMR is responsible for India’s 20% of growth rate. Reasons for high IMR in India is:
      • Nutrition problems
      • No institutional deliveries
      • Delivery by untrained women
    • Low couple protection ratio: The proportion of the population using contraceptive and birth control measures is low. This is responsible for 20% of India’s growth rate. Apart from this poverty and lack of awareness is also responsible for high population growth rate.
Reasons for India’s high growth rate in India
  • Adam Smith stated that “ Poverty creates ideal conditions for high fertility”
  • Certain conservative communities like Catholics are against various methods like abortion, birth control operations, foeticides, etc.
  • Suggestions according to the National Population Policy of India to control population growth:
    • Delay in marriages and increase age of marriage.
    • Spacing between Children
    • Awareness for girl child
    • Dealing with attitudinal aspects of the patriarchal mindset.
    • Vaccination program of mother and child.
    • Reproductive Child Health program or Mother and Child Program- Objectives
      • Neonatal health care or postpartum (post-delivery) health care.
      • Nutritional programs
      • 100% institutional delivery and delivery by trained nurses and midwives
    • Monetary incentives for pregnant and nursing mothers for institutional delivery and nutrition. E.g. Development of Women and Children Program (DWCRA)
  • Case Study
    • In Kerala, despite of sizable Catholic and Muslim population, is the best-performing state in most of the demographic parameters including literacy.
    • In Kerala, the district of Mallapuram has an average TFR of 1.4 despite the fact that is has more than 90% of the Muslim population. This is because it is one of the best performing districts in female literacy.
    • The states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have TFR of more than 3 due to a lack of reproductive rights for women.
  • The relationship between literacy level and TFR is given below:
relationship between literacy level and TFR
  • The importance of reproductive rights and the role of women in population development was first declared in the Integrated Conference in Population and Development (ICPD) of Cairo declaration.
Infant mortality rate India

Fertility Rate in India (Number of children born per woman)

Total fertility rate: 2.2

The table given below depicts the figures announced by NITI Aayog for the fertility rate in India (as of 2013):

Top ThreeRateBottom ThreeRate
1Andaman & Nicobar Islands0.71Bihar3.4
2Tripura1.32Uttar Pradesh3.1
3Goa1.43Madhya Pradesh2.9
Sex Ratio in India (not including UT’s)

The figures given below are based on NITI Aayog’s data for 2013-2015:

Total sex ratio in India: 900
(900 females per 1000 males)

Top ThreeSex RatioBottom ThreeSex Ratio
3West Bengal9513Gujarat854
Fertility Rate in India

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