India is the second most populous country in the world after china, with a total population of 121 crores according to the Census of 2011. The growth rate of India’s population has not always been very high. Out of every 100 persons in the world 15 are Indians, that is, every seventh person is an Indian. A total of 17.5 per cent of the world’s population lives in India, inhabiting only 2.4 per cent of the total land area of the world. The growth of India’s population has been phenomenal compared to that of other countries and particularly in relation to the growth of necessary resources and infrastructure required to meet the pressure of the growing population.
- Between 1901-1951 the average annual growth rate did not exceed 1.33%, a modest rate of growth.
- In fact between 1911 and 1921 there was a negative rate of growth of -0.03%. This was because of the influenza epidemic during1918-19 which killed about12.5 million persons or 5% of the total population of the country (Visaria and Visaria).
- The growth rate of population substantially increased after independence from British rule going up to 2.2% during1961-1981.
- Since then although the annual growth rate has decreased it remains one of the highest in the developing world the comparative movement of the crude birth and death rates. The impact of demographic transition phase is found in the decade of 1921 to 1931.
The growth of India’s population has been phenomenal compared to that of other countries and particularly in relation to the growth of necessary resources and infrastructure required to meet the pressure of the growing population.
From 1971to 2001, it increased from 548 million to 1029 million. It is two and a halftimes the population of the whole of Africa. During the decade the growth was equivalent to the half of the population of Canada and the United States.
- Every year, a whole Malaysia or Australia is added to India’s population. Thus, the problem of population growth is really a serious one as the increases in employment opportunities and other resources cannot keep up with increase in population.
- Growth rate was not so high up to 1921.However, from 1921 there was a steady increase till 1951.From 1951 onwards the growth rate has been increasing at an alarming rate. The pre 1921 period had high death rate due to plague, malaria, influenza and famine. In post-independence India, health hazards have been considerably curbed, which has resulted in increased population growth. Since 1951, the population of India has nearly tripled. The growth has been higher in the northern zone compared to other areas, particularly the southern states.
The density of population has increased from 72 persons per square kilometer in 1901 to 267 persons in 1991 and 325 persons in 2001. The density of populations is 13 persons per square kilometer in Arunachal Pradesh, followed by Mizoram. West Bengal had the maximum density, followed by Bihar.
- It is true that India is predominantly a country of villages. Out of India’s total population, 72.2 per cent lived in villages and 27.8 per cent were in urban areas as per 2001 census. This increased to 25.7 per cent in 1991 and further it went up to 27.7 per cent in 2001. However, it is significant to note that the increase in the urban population has been far more than that of rural population. Over 60 per cent of the urban population lived in 216 agglomerations and cities with population of one lakh and above. The increase in urban population is migration from rural areas, as the cities and towns offer more job opportunities, better amenities and higher standards of living.
- Hindus account for 79.8 per cent of the total population and Muslims of 14.23 per cent Christians are the third major group. Sikhs are mainly concentrated in Punjab. Jains and Buddhists as social groups are more like Hindus. The census provides details based on age, sex, martial status, literacy, occupation, etc.
- The sex composition of India’s population shows that there are fewer females than males. Like the male-female ratio, the age structure of India’s population has remained almost stable during the last six decades. The reason is that natural calamities and man-made problem like wars have not affected India’s populations on any large scale. Nearly 40 per cent of India’s population consists of those below 15 years of age and about 5 to 6 per cent of 60 years and above. This shows that nearly half of India’s population is dependent upon those who are earners. The dependency of such a large part of the population adversely affects economic and social development Saving and investment become almost negligible because almost entire income is spent on consumption. Problems of unemployment, migration and mobility are also related to the age composition of India’s population.