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Analysis of Census 2001

Analysis of Census 2001

According to the 2001 Census, India's population as on March 2001 was 1, 02, 87, 37,436.India's share of the world surface area of 135.79 million is a mere 2.4%; its share of the world population is 16.7%.The United Nations Population Division estimates that India is likely to overtake China in 2050 and become the world's most populous country with a share of 17.2% of the total world population.

The world population is estimated to have grown at an annual rate of 1.4% during 1990-2000.While China registered a growth rate of just 1% in the decade; India's growth rate of population in the decade 1991-2000 was 1.9%.China's growth rate is almost at par with that of the USA.

Distinct phases can be discerned in the population growth of India during 1901-2001.

  1901-1921     Stagnant population  
  1921-1951     Steady growth  
  1951-1981     Rapid and high growth  
  1981-2001     High growth but signs of slowing down  

The picture of the population growth in India accords well with the theory of demographic transition and the country is now believed to have entered fifth phase characterized by rapidly declining fertility. In absolute terms the population of India has shown a huge increase during the decade 1991-2001 however the change in the net addition has shown a steady declining trend over the decades from 1961.The percentage decadal growth during 1991-2001 has shown the sharpest decline since independence.

  • Data at glance
  • Density
  • Sex-ratio
  • Literacy
  • Scheduled Tribe Population
  • Scheduled Caste Population
  • Religious groups
  • Percentage of Child Population in the age-group 0-6 to total population
  • Growth of Urbanization
  • Towns and cities

Data at Glance

  • People - 1,028,610,328
  • Male - 532,156,772
  • Female - 496,453,556
  • Urban population -286,119,689
  • Rural population -742,490,639
  • Urban population(%) -27.78
  • Sex ratio -933 males per 1000 males
  • Density- 324 persons per sq km
  • Decadal Population Growth (1991-2001)
    • Absolute - 185,222,440
    • Percentage- 21.54

  • Population (0-6 years)
    • Persons - 163,819,614
    • Boys- 84,999,203
    • Girls- 78,820,411
    • Total population (%) - 15.9
    • Sex ratio- 927
  • Literacy
    • Males- 336,533,716
    • Females- 224,154,081
    • Persons-560,687,797
  • Literacy rate (age 7+)
    • Males - 75.2 %
    • Females -53.6%
    • People- 64.8%

Uttar Pradesh has the largest population followed by Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh in the same order. These five states represent half of the country's population. More than ¼ th of people live in two states of UP and Maharashtra alone. The three southern states of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu together have fewer people than Uttar Pradesh alone.

The uneven nature of the distribution of the population becomes more evident when we try to find out as to what proportion of India's population lives in each state of the Indian Union. This may be described as the Index of Concentration. This index is 16.16% for UttarPradesh, 0.19% for Nagaland, 0.23% for Megalaya and 0.99% for Jammu and Kashmir. The state of West Bengal accommodates 7.79% of the country's population while the shares of the agriculturally developed states of Punjab and Haryana are 2.73% and 2.05% respectively.

A closer examination of the census data shows that the states of the Indian Union have an unequal share not only in population but also in area. There is little relationship between area and population. The largest state in India Rajasthan accounts for 11% of the country's total area and has 5.5% of the country's total population. Madhya Pradesh with an area share of about 10% has a population share of 5.7%.However Uttar Pradesh with 7.6% of total area has a population share of over 16%.


The density is defined as the number of persons per square kilometer. The population density has gone up from 267 persons in 1991 to 324 per sq km in 2001.In 1901 it was 77 persons.

The density has increased by 21.3% in 2001 as compared to 1991.Large increase in the density of population puts pressure on the limited resources available and adversely affects the quality of life.

In India there is large variation across the states and Union territories in terms of density due to the wide differences in climate and resources.Arunchal Pradesh with a density of 13 at one extreme and Delhi with a density of 9,340 at the other. While all the states and Union territories have shown an increase in density there are wide variations in the rates of increase. West Bengal is most densely populated state followed by Bihar and Kerala.


In 2001 the sex -ratio stood at 933 for the whole of India.The only state to show a higher number of females per 1000 males was Kerala with a sex ratio of 1,058.Among Union territories Pondicherry had the highest sex-ratio of 1,001 it was the only UT to reach a figure above 950.In the Indian context a sex ratio of 950 and above can be considered as favourable to females. The other states are Chattisgarh 989, Tamil Nadu 987, Andhra Pradesh 978, Manipur 978, Meghalaya 972, Orissa 972, Himachal Pradesh 968, Karnataka 965, Uttaranchal 962 and Goa 961.

The sex ratio of 933 for the country is an improvement over the figure for 1991.The sex-ratio in India has always been unfavorable to females. It showed a continuous decline from 1901 to 1941, improved marginally in 1951 then dropped steeply to 930 in 1971.The sharpest decline is seen during the period 1961-1971 after which the sex ratio has been fluctuating around this figure.

The sex ratio in the age-group 0-6 has decreased at a much faster rate than the overall ratio in the country after 1981.The relative share of states and union territories with sex-ratio of 951 and above in the 0-6 age-group has shown a sharp decline and the number of states/ut with sex-ratio in this group of population below 915 has increased from four in 1991 to nine in 2001.Some states have shown sharper decline in sex ratio in this group of population than others. The Christian population has the highest sex-ratio of 1009 females per thousand males in the 2001 census followed by other religions and persuasions 992, Buddhist 953 and Jains 940.Sex ratio among Sikh population is 893 which is lowest among the different religious communities.Sex -ratio among Muslim Population is 936 which is just above the national average of 933 for all religions and Hindu population sex-ratio is 931.


A literate person is one who can read and write with understanding in any language; a person who can read but not write is not literate for the purpose of the census. However no formal education is considered necessary for being considered literate. The entire population was taken into account while calculating literacy rates up to 1981 census. Considering that it would be more realistic to leave out the sub-population group 0-6 in any calculation of literacy rates, it was decided in 1991 to use the term literacy rate for the population relating to seven years and above. The same idea has been adopted for the literacy rates of 2001.The literacy rate taking into account the total population of the country is termed crude literacy rate.

Some significant features:

  • For the first time there is a decline in the absolute number of illiterates during a decade (1991-2001).This is a major shift in improving the status of literacy in the country.
  • The major contribution to the decrease in the number of illiterates came from Andhra Pradesh,Uttar Pradesh,Maharashtra,Rajasthan,Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.These six states together account for three-fourths of the percentage decrease in the total number of illiterates in the country while they share half of the country's population.
  • In eight states and UTs the number of illiterates grew in the decade.
  • In case of male illiterates there is a decline in the absolute numbers from 1991 to 2001.Kerala has also added to the number of male illiterates.
  • The gap in the male-female literacy rates was reduced in 1991 and was further reduced in 2001.
  • Kerala with a literacy rate of 90.92% holds the first rank in the country followed by Mizoram and Lakshadeep.Bihar with a literacy rate of 47.0% ranks last in the country.
  • Kerala occupies first position in both male and female literacy rates.Bihar has lowest literacy rates for both males and females.
  • Religion -wise Literacy rate among Jains is the highest at 94.1% followed by Christians 80.3% and Buddhists 72.7%.Hindus and Sikhs have marginally higher literacy rate than the national average. Muslims have literacy rate of 59.1%.The lowest literacy has been recorded for other religions and persuasions at 47%.

Scheduled Tribe Population

The 2001 census put the number of persons belonging to Scheduled Tribes in India at 84.3 million which is 8.2% of the total population. There were about 60 major tribal groups accounting for about 80% of the total tribal population of India in 1991.There were over 100 medium tribal groups and 130 minor tribal groups. About 60 others were numerically insignificant.

According to 2001 census STs are largest in MP followed by Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan and Jharkhand.The ST formed the largest proportion of the total population in Lakshadeep, Mizoram and Nagaland.

The decadal population growth between the census years 1981-1991 in tribal population has been higher at 31.64% than that for the entire population at 23.51% however during the census years 1991-2001 it has been 24.45% against the growth rate of 22.66% for the entire population.

Karnataka has witnessed highest growth rate of 80.82% followed by Nagaland 67.23%.The lowest growth rate as per 2001 census was recorded in Andaman and Nicobar Islands at 10.08% followed by Himachal Pradesh at 12.02%.

The sex-ratio among STs stand at 977 per 1000 males. In all states except AP and Tamil Nadu and Uttaranchal the ST sex-ratio as per 2001 census was more women centric.

The literacy rate for STs increased from 29.62% to 47.10 %.The female literacy rate among tribals increased from 18.19% to 34.76% in 2001.

Scheduled Caste Population

According to 2001 census the population of Scheduled Castes in India was 166.6 million which is 16.2% of the total population of the country. The SCs are largest in UP, Maharashtra, Bihar and West Bengal. The highest proportion of scheduled caste population was in Punjab while the lowest is in Nagaland.

Religious groups

According to 2001 census at the national level of 1028 million population, 828 million are Hindus (80.5%) followed by 138million (13.4%) Muslims and 24 million (2.3%) Christians, 19 million (1.9%) Sikhs, 8 million (0.8%) Buddhists and 4.2 million (0.4%) are Jains.

There are 6.6 million belonging to other religions and persuasions including tribal religions which are not part of the six main religions. About 7 lakh (0.7 million) persons have not stated their religion.

The adjusted growth rate of Hindu population has come down from 22.8% in 1981-1991 to 20.0% in 1991-2001.Similar trends are observed among Buddhists which declined from 36% in 1981-1991 to 23.2% during 1991-2001.The Muslim growth rate has declined from 32.9% during 1981-1991 to 29.3% during 1991-2001 while for Christians it would increase from 17% to 22.1% during 1991-2001.Jain population also has registered growth rate of 26.0% against very low growth rate of 4.6% during 1981-1991.

As per 2001 census the Parsi population in the country is 69,601 with 33,949 males and 35,652 females as against their population of 76,382 in 1991 census. There is visible decline of Zoroastrian population which needs immediate attention from the community members and the government.

Percentage of Child Population in the age-group 0-6

The child population according to 2001 census stands at 15.9%.Muslimpopulation records the highest proportion of population in the age-group 0-6 at 18.7% followed by Other Religions and Persuasions 18%.The lowest proportion of population in this age-group is seen among the Jains at 10.6% preceded by Sikhs at 12.8%.The other religious communities have returned lower proportion in this age-group compared to national average.

Growth of Urbanization

In 1901 only 11%of the total population was urbanized. There were 1834 towns and cities. The urban-rural ratio was 1:8:1.By 1951urban population had grown to 6.16 crore comprising 17.6% of the total population. Thus from 1901 to 1951 the growth in urban population was 240% while that from 1951 to 2001 was about 450%.The rapid growth in last decades has been because of rapid industrialization and migration to urban areas, 50% of which are from rural areas.

Towns and cities

These are classified in six categories according to their population. Class I towns having a population of 1, 00,000 or more have grown rapidly. There were 24 Class I towns in 1901 having a total population of 6.59 million. The number has gone up to over 300 in 2001 accounting for 139.73 million population. The Class I towns accounted for 25.71% of the total urban population while in 2001 they accounted for 64.89% of the total urban population. Smaller towns in Class IV, V and VI having population less than 20,000 are more numerous than towns in Class I, II and III. But the share of urban population of towns of smaller sizes has declined sharply from 47.23% to 10.88% .The number of towns in Class II and III together declined slightly from 27% to 24.29% during the same period.
Attached: Analysis of Census 2001
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