Essay on Major Demographic Trends in India

Essay on Major Demographic Trends in India – India, as it is made clear, is the second most populous country in the world. Its total population crossed the mark of 121.2 crore by March 2011. Its population is currently increasing at the rate of 18.15 million per year. The average annual exponential growth rate of India’s population is 1.76% in 2011. The salient demographic features or trends of India’s population may be noted below.

1. Growth Rate of Population:

The population of India grew at a slow rate prior to 1921. But its population has started growing at a fantastic rate of speed particularly after 1931. The average annual growth rate of India’s population was 0.56% in 1911 and it reached the record height of 2.22% in 1981. However, it has come down to 1.9% in 2001 and further to 1.76% in 2011.

2. Uneven Distribution of Population:

Population of India is not equally distributed among all the states. On the contrary, we find heavy concentration of people in some states rather than in others. It shows the ten most populous states in the country by rank.

As per 2011 Census, the state of Uttar Pradesh comes first with about 200 million people followed by Maharashtra with 112 million, Bihar with 103 million and so on. It is significant to note that these 10 states account for about 76.34% of the total population of India.

3. Age Composition:

As per 2011 Census, the population of children [0-to-6 years] has declined by 5 million over the 2001 Census. In general, the proportion of population below 15 years is showing decline, whereas the proportion of elderly people in the country is increasing. This trend may continue in the time to come. The increase in the elderly population will impose a greater burden on the already outstretched health services in the country.

The age composition of India’s population according to National Family Health Survey – 2 [NFHS-2] done in 1998-99 is shown in Table – 6. The age composition of people in any country is very much related to components of population change like fertility, mortality, age at marriage, migration, etc. Its distribution also has its important socio-economic effects.

A large number of people under the age group of 0.14, that is, 37.3% in 2001 would lead to certain effects such as – allocation of large amount of fund to provide for health, medical and educational needs for children; more dependents on working people and low productivity of labour.

4. Sex Composition:

Sex ratio is one of the characteristics of the population. It has an important bearing upon marriage rate, death rate, birth rate and even migration rate. The sex ratio is defined as “the number of females per 1,000 males.” In any study of population, analysis of the sex composition or sex ratio plays a vital role.

The major trends in the sex ratio in the country from 1901 onwards are represented. According to the 2001 census figures, there are 933 females per 1000 males in India. This sex ratio recorded a slight increase from 933 in 2001 to 940 in 2011.

There are various reasons for this imbalance in the sex ratio. Factors such as female infanticide, neglect of female infants, early marriage, bad treatment and hard work of women, craving for male children, practice of dowry, dominant patriarchal values, etc. have been instrumental in reducing the number of females in India.

It is also significant to note that the sex ratio is higher in the urban areas and among the educated, than in the rural areas and among the uneducated. It is also observed that there are 13 States with sex ratio above the national level and 12 States with sex ratio lower than the national level. Kerala and Pandichery the only states wherein women outnumber men, and there are 1084 and 1038 women per 1000 men in 2011 in these states respectively.

5. Density of Population:

Density is also a major factor in the study of population. In the Indian context, density is defined as the average number of persons living per square kilometre. The trends of the density of population in the country from 1901 onwards are shown.

The density of population was found to be 77 in 1901 and 324 in 2001and it increased to the record mark of 382 in 2011. Delhi with 11297 persons per sq. km in 2011 is the most densely populated state in India.

Arunachal Pradesh with just 17 persons per sq. Km is the least densely populated state. Comparatively, China has a density of population of 135 persons, whereas Canada, Australia and America have 3, 2, and 31 persons respectively.

6. Life Expectancy:

Life expectancy or expectation of life at a given age is the average number of years which a person of that age may expect to live, according to the mortality pattern prevalent in that country. Demographers consider it as one of the best indicators of a country’s level of development and the overall health status of its population.

As far as India is concerned, in the year 1901, the life expectancy of males and females at birth was found to be 23.63 years and 23.93 years, respectively. These figures have increased respectively to 62.80 years and 63.80 years in 2000.

Trends in life expectancy show that people are living longer, and they have a right to a long life in good health, rather than one of pain and disability. Health policy makers need to recognise this changing demographic pattern, and plan for prevention and control of diseases associated with old age.

7. Dependency Ratio:

The proportion of persons above 65 years of age and children below 15 years of age are considered to be dependent on the economically productive age group [15 - 64 years]. ‘The ratio of the combined age groups 0 -14 years plus 65 years and above to the 15 – 65 years age group – is referred to as the total dependency ratio. The dependency ratio reflects the need for a society to provide for their younger and older population groups.

In terms of dependency ratio, we can also speak of young age dependency ratio [0-14 years]; and old age dependency ratio [65 years and more]. These ratios are, however, relatively crude, since they do not take into consideration elderly or young persons who are employed or working age persons who are unemployed. It shows the trends of dependency ratio in India.

8. Population and Urbanisation:

Growth of population in most of the developing countries is closely associated with growing urbanisation. Urbanisation is taking place at a relatively greater speed in India. The proportion of urban population in India increased from 10.84% in 1901 to 17.3% in 1951, to 25.7% in 1991, and to 27.8% in 2001 and was projected to be 32% in the year 2011. In absolute terms, the urban population in India was 285 million in 2001 compared to 217.17 million in 1991. See Table -9(A).

The percentage of population residing in urban areas has increased marginally. The number of urban areas and towns increased from 3,378 in 1981 to 3,768 in 1991. In 2001, three major cities of

India – Mumbai, Kolkota and Delhi – attained the status of mega-cities each with a population of more than 10-million. The pace of urbanisaion is relatively due to predominance of agriculture, slow rate of industrialisation, low rate of literacy, slow growth of towns and cities, slow rate of social and occupational mobility, shortage of capital, etc.

9. Birth and Death Rates:

The birth rate in India was 26.1 per thousand in 2001 and the death rate was 8.7 per thousand for the same period. This widened the gap between the birth rate and the death rate. As a result, the net rate of increase of population in the country is 1.9%. This is the most significant factor behind the population explosion in India.

India like many other developing countries is faced with the problem of a high birth rate and a declining death rate. The causes of high birth rate are – (i) universality of marriage, (ii) early marriage, (iii) early puberty, (iv) low standard of living, (v) low level of literacy, (vi) traditional customs and habits, (vii) absence of family planning habit, etc.

Declining death rate has been attributed to:

(i) mass control of diseases such as smallpox, plague, cholera, malaria, etc.

(ii) better health facilities,

(iii) impact of national health programmes,

(iv) absence of natural checks as found in the instances of famines, floods, large scale epidemics, etc.,

(v) improvements in food supply,

(vi) international aid in different ways,

(vii) development of social consciousness among the masses. The demographers are of the opinion that in future rapid decline in India’s death rate may not be continued.

10. Literacy Structure:

As far as the literacy structure of the country is concerned, in 2011, on an average, around 74.04% people are found to be literate [82.14% males and 65.46% females]. Kerala is a state wherein we find the highest literacy rate, that is 93.91% and Bihar has the lowest one, that is, 63.82%.

Of the total literate people in India in 1991 [846.3 million], 56.7% had less than 3 years education, 23.8% 3-6 years education, 11% 7-1 years education, 6.8% 12-14 years education and 1.7% more than 14 years education. It is evident that we find a very limited number of people with college education. While the literacy rate for males rose from 75.26 to 82.14% marking a rise of 6.9% it increased by 11.8% for females to go from 53.67 to 65.46 per cent.

If we look at the State-wise break-up of the literacy rate, we find that Kerala continues to occupy the top rank in the country with about 93.91 % literates (2011). Ten states and union territories, including -Kerala, Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Tripura, Goa, Damun and Diu, Puduchery, Chandigarh, Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Inlands – have attained a literacy rate of above 85%, one target set by the planning commission to be achieved by 2011-12.