Census : India’s Population

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Census 2011 : India’s Population Touches 1.21 Billion

Female Literacy Rate Goes Up; Population Grows By 181 Million.

The provisional data of the Census 2011 that was made public on March 31, 2011 stated that India’s population has touched a new figure 1.21 billion with a rise of over 181 million from the last decade ( 1991-2001 ).

Now, India’s population has touched the combined population of the well-known countries like the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Japan that is 1,214.3 million. It is the 15th Census of India since 1872 and has presented many significant facts some of which are encouraging, while some discouraging as well.

The most significant encouraging trend that it has shown is, however, that after a lapse of 9 decades, the past decade ( 2001-2011 ) witnessed the addition of smaller population than the decade that had just preceded, i.e., 1991-2001.

The significant fact that has come to light is within the last 6 years, 5 States – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan – have added considerably to the population growth as half of the kids in these States belong to the age group of 1 to 6.

But the silver lining is that two of the most populous States – Uttar Pradesh and Bihar – have shown a decline in the decadal growth.

During the past decade ( 1991-2001 ), these two States had shown the growth of 25.9 percent and 28.9 percent, respectively, whereas during the present decade ( 2001-2011 ) the growth has come down to 20.1 percent and 25.1 percent, respectively.

Kerala has also shown a declining trend in the population growth by 9.4 percent that is very encouraging.

One point is a must-remember that Uttar Pradesh and Bihar taken together alone account for the 25 percent of India’s overall population of 121 crore and any trend that pinpoints the decline in population growth is very heartening.

One more heartening fact has been brought to light by the 2011 Census and that is the growing number of female children getting education practice of female foeticide. The overall trend was that there were only 914 girls for every 1000 boys.

The gender bias again drew attention to a lingering societal flaw that, despite impressive economic growth, India has not succeeded in correcting.
If the State wise sex ratio is analysed, different States show different trends.

Minister of State ( Independent Charge ) for Women and Child Development Ms. Krishna Tirath was happy that the overall sex ratio had increased, but expressed concern at the decline in the child sex ratio. According to Ms. Tirath, she would take up the issue with the ‘problem’ States and stressed the need for proper implementation of women and child development schemes.

The increasing child sex ratio that came as a shocker in the latest Census figures shows 914 girls, and this is the lowest ever since Independence, slipping from 927 in 2001.

The increasing trend has been seen in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, while in all the remaining 27 States and Union Territories, the ratio has shown a decline. It was the highest in Mizoram at 971, closely followed by Meghalaya ( 970 ), while at the rock bottom was Haryana with 830 and Punjab with 846.

At the district level, Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh had the highest sex ratio in the age group of 0-6 at 1,013, while in Twang ( Arunachal Pradesh ), it was 1,005. It was shamefully low in Jhajjar and Mahendragarh (Haryana) at 774 and 778. The Census figures indicate an increase in sex ratio in 29 States and Union Territories, with women outnumbering men in Kerala.

There were 1,084 women against 1,000 men in Kerala, followed by Puducherry where the figure was 1038. Daman and Diu has a sex ratio of 618, next only to Dadra and Nagar Haveli at 775. Among the districts, Mahe by Almora in Uttarakhand, where it is 1,142. In Daman, it is the lowest at 533, and in Leh of Ladakh, it is 583.

The three major States of Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar and Gujarat have shown a decline in the sex ratio compared with the figures of Census 2001, while 29 States and Union Territories have shown an increase.

Data released by Union Health Ministry’s National Health Profile 2010 – a document yet to be made public – says that the State of Madhya Pradesh had the highest number of recorded cases of both female foeticide and infanticide in 2009. While the figures for Madhya Pradesh said that there were 23 female foeticide cases in the State, it also recorded 51 cases of female infanticide – the highest in the country.

When it comes to female foeticide, MP is followed by Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh -both recording 17 official cases in 2009. Next comes Chhattisgarh with 12 cases, followed by Punjab with seven cases; Karnataka eight, Gujarat five, Haryana two and one each from Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.

Madhya Pradesh is followed by Punjab (29 cases), Maharashtra (18), Andhra Pradesh (15), Rajasthan (14), Karnataka (11), Chhattisgarh (10), Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh (9 cases each).

A Union Health Ministry official expressed the concern in these words, “The latest Census figures show that the girl child still remains just as unwanted. Their numbers have fallen to an all-time low since Independence. The sex ratio for 2011 stands at 914girls, down from 927 girls for 1,000 boys in 2001.
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We will soon meet to see how we can better implement the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act in States with worst ratios.” According to the Ministry’s records, cases of female foeticide registered under Section 315 and 316 of IPC during 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 stood at 96, 73, 123 and 107, respectively.

A Ministry official assured, “We will soon take up the matter of PNDT violation on the Internet with the Information Technology Ministry. The National Inspection Monitoring Committee in January and February, 2011 had raided clinics in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan which were involved in sex determination of unborn children. We sealed their clinics. In 2010, we did the same in Gujarat.

We have to intensify this drive now”. A recent paper predicted that India will have 20% more men than women in the next two decades, thanks to sex-selective abortion and craze for male child in some States. India has about 35,000 ultrasound clinics. Earlier studies had said that about 5-7 lakh girls a year or 2000 girls a day go missing in India due to female foeticide.

In families, where one girl child already exists, the chances of a second girl being born is as low as 59%. In a family with two female children, the chances of third girl being born is as low as 20%.

It is not without significance that for the first time since Independence, India added fewer people to its population in the decade just ended than in the previous one. While decadal population growth rates have consistently been declining since the 1960s, the absolute addition in each decade was always higher than in the previous decade. That has now changed.

India added 181 million people to its population between 2001 and 2011 against 182 million in the preceding decade. However, even 181 million equals the total population of Brazil, the world’s fifth most populous country.

A significant drop in the population growth of India’s most backward States is driving the sharpest ever decline in the country’s population growth rates. For the last 30 years, India’s eight most backward States – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand,  Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Orissa – have grown at a constant rate, increasing their populations by a fourth every ten years.

For the first time, growth rates have sharply dropped by over 4% in these States. In fact, population growth has dropped faster in these eight States than in better off States.

This contributed to an all-India population growth rate of less than 18% over the last ten years. India’s growth rate declined by almost four percentage points as compared to the previous decade, the sharpest decline in any decade.

Since detailed census data on birth rates and migration are not yet available, it is not yet possible to say whether this decline is being driven by sharply reduced fertility in these States or high out-migration.

Overall, fertility is declining. Not only is the rate of growth of the population of children under the age of 6 dropping, the absolute numbers too have dropped by 5 million to 159 million, or 13% of the population. Among the major States, Bihar’s 0-6 population is close to 18% of its total, indicating that Bihar’s fertility is probably still higher than the rest of the country. Uttar Pradesh remains the most populous State ( 199.5 million ) followed by Maharashtra ( 112 million ).

These two put together surpass the United States, the world’s third most populous country after China and India, in population. Growth rates have, however, declined in all of the six most populous States.

Nagaland and Kerala are the slowest growing States. For the last 20 years, Kerala has been growing at the pace of the developed world, and grew less than 5% over the last decade. With Maharashtra’s growth rate declining to 16%, the average annual growth rate is now less than 2% in all of the southern States.

The suburbs of India’s big cities, meanwhile, are exploding. Thane, on the outskirts of Mumbai, has the highest population of any district, 1 million, making it the size of Greece. North-east Delhi has the highest population density in the country, a staggering 37,346 persons per square km, with Chennai following.

Average density in India is less than one-hundredth that of north-east Delhi and the least densely populated district, Dibang in Arunachal Pradesh, has just one person per square km.

The provisional population data from the Census 2011 might not contain any dramatic surprises as the figures are more or less in sync with perceived notions. But, some of the numbers are significantly different from projections made a decade ago by the office of the Registrar General, and the Census Commissioner about what the picture would become in 2011.

The overall population of the country grew a litde bit more than what experts had expected as the population became 1.21 billion, while the predicted figure was 1.20 billion. But that is just a minor difference.

The State-level data, however, shows some major departures from what the experts had projected a decade ago.

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The biggest surprise is Chandigarh, which was expected to have about 1.4 million people by 2011. In reality, the population of the UT grew at a much slower rate and the actual figure is 28% lower than what was predicted. Delhi too has a significantly lower population figure in the provisional 2011 data released on March 31, 2011 than what was projected in 2001.

The projection was that by 2011 it would have 18.6 million people. The number is now put at 16.8 million. Similarly, Andaman and Nicobar, Goa, Lakshadweep, Nagaland, Puducherry and Daman and Diu were all expected to grow at a much higher rate than has actually happened.

They did not grow at the predicted pace, failing the experts to the extent that the actual population is more than 10% lower than the predicted figure in all of them. On the other hand, the population of Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar and Chhattisgarh grew at a higher rate than their predicted ones.

These States and CITs between them had 20 million more people than the projection had anticipated. Meghalaya was the biggest surprise as it has 13% more people than what was expected. Among the larger States, the population of Tamil Nadu was 7% higher than earlier projected, while Bihar and Chhattisgarh had 6% and 5% more than the official projections. The Census officials were, however, successful in projecting the figures for most of the remaining States.

One very encouraging fact that the Census 2011 has presented is, however, this that India’s literacy rate has touched 74%, according to the provisional results of the 2011 Census, up from 65% in 2001 and just 52% in 1991.

But this is well short of the target set by the Planning Commission to achieve a literacy rate of over 85% by 2011-12. Only 10 States and Union Territories mostly with very small populations, barring Kerala with a population of 33 million and Delhi with 16 million, are over the 85% target.

Four high-population States accounting for about 44% of the country’s population—UP, Bihar, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh—have not even managed 70% literacy and Madhya Pradesh just about touched 71%. Bihar and Rajasthan have the lowest literacy rates among major States in the country, 64% and 67%, respectively and they also have the lowest female literacy rate of about 53%.

The huge disparity in improvement of literacy can be gauged from the fact that there are still districts like Alirajpur in Madhya Pradesh and Bijapur in Chhattisgarh where the literacy rate is as low as 37% and 42%, respectively. The Census definition of literacy is the ability to both read and write in any language.

The population below six years is not counted as they are considered illiterate, irrespective of their ability to read or write. Not only is India’s literacy rate inching upward, what is even more heartening is that the male-female literacy gap has been significantly reduced in the last one decade.

While the percentage growth in overall literacy during this period is 39%, for men it was 32% and for women it was a very high 49%. In the decline of 312 million among illiterates between 2001 and 2011, women accounted for 171 million, outnumbering the men (141 million).

In fact, the gap in literacy between men and women has been reduced to an all-time low of just 16.7 percentage points. In 2011, male literacy is 82% and female literacy about 65.5%.
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In 2001, this gap was 21.6 percentage points. Out of almost 218 million literates added during the decade, 110 million were women compared to just 108 million men.

The States and Union Territories which have reduced the male-female literacy gap to 10 percentage points or less are Chandigarh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, Lakshadweep, Kerala and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Again, all these have very small populations, except Kerala.

The States with the largest gap in male and female literacy is Rajasthan, with an almost 28 percentage point difference. The other States with a large gap mostly in the region of 20 percentage points are Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar.

Having crossed the 70% literacy mark, India would now be out of the league of countries with very poor development record. It is still way below countries like Congo (81%), South Africa (88%), Brazil (90%), Sri Lanka (91%) and China (93%).

As more and more people have been pouring into the national capital over many years, today, Delhi is the most densely-populated city in the country with 11,297 people living in its every square kilometre, according to the latest Census data. The figure was 9,340 in 2001.

The National Census report released on March 31, 2011 said that Delhi’s population soared to 1.68 crore over the last 10 years which is an increase of 29 lakh, while the sex ratio has gone up to 866 per 1,000 males from 821 in 2001.

Of the 11 districts in Delhi spread over 1,483 sq.km, the northeastern part of the city has the highest number of dwellers, the Census states. Delhi is followed by Chandigarh with 9,252 people per sq.km.

The least densely populated State in the country is Arunachal Pradesh with 17 people per sq.km, followed by the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands with 46 people per square km. Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh is the least densely populated district in the country with one person per square kilometre, followed by Samba district in Jammu and Kashmir with two people per square kilometre.

With 26,903 people per square km, Chennai is the most densely populated district. The sex ratio of 866 in the national Capital is the fourth lowest among all the States and Union Territories.

The literacy rate in the city is 86.34 percent against 81.67 percent in 2001. The literacy rate of males is 91.03 percent while female literacy rate is estimated at 80.93 percent. The population up to six years of age has been counted at 19.70 lakh.

An estimated 2.7 million officials had fanned out across the country to undertake the Census 2011, costing the Union Government Rs. 22,000 million.

The decadal exercise – the 15th head-count of India’s population since 1872—has been undertaken to create a database on demography, economic activity, literacy and education, housing and household amenities, urbanisation, fertility and mortality, social structure, language, religion and migration.

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