India’s population is characterised by high growth rate. On an average it has been increasing at a growth rate of 1.95 per cent per annum against 1.8 per cent per annum for the world as a whole and 1.3 per cent for China. Although population estimates are available since 1750 the first census was undertaken in 1871 giving a population figure of 203 million.
Thence onward up to 1901 the population growth rate was very slow varying between 0.09 to the year 1921 is marked as ‘Demographic Divide’ between the periods of fluctuating growth and continuous growth.
During 1921 to 1951, the population of India increased from 251 million to 361 million. Thus a population of 110 million was added in a period of thirty years showing an increase of 43.67 per cent. During these thirty years the average annual growth rate of population was 1.45 per cent (cf. average annual exponential growth rate of 1.2 per cent). This was due to control over epidemics and famines owing to improvement in sanitation and medical facilities, food production and transport and communication system.
Table 27.11 shows that estimated mortality rate, which stood at 47 per thousand for the country in 1921, was brought down significantly to 27 per thousand in 1951. Thus, the steady increase in population during 1921-51 was the outcome of a sharp decline in the mortality rate, while the fertility rate still remained high around 40 per thousand.
The year 1951 is marked as another significant demographic divide in the country’s population history characterised with phenomenal growth in the country’s population during post-Independence period. The year is also significant for launching the first census and the first Five Year Plan of the independent India. The country’s population has more than doubled itself since 1951.
It has increased from 361 million in 1951 to 846 million in 1991, exhibiting an increase of 134.38 per cent during the last 40 years. The peak growth rate (24.8%) was recorded in 1961 -71 decades (24.8 %). There has been negligible fall in growth rate since 1971. The average annual exponential growth rate was 2.22 per cent during 1961-71 which fell down to 2.14 per cent during 1981-91. Such an unprecedented increase in the country’s population may be attributed to large scale developmental activities, improving conditions of food supply and medical services bringing further fall in the mortality rate.
The estimated mortality rate declined significantly from 27 per thousand in 1951 to 11 per thousand in 1991. Since the fall in the fertility rate still continued to be gradual, the sharper fall in the mortality rate yielded still greater natural increments.
The Census of 1991 has revealed a perceptible change in the country’s demographic scene, especially in its growth rate (Chandna, 1996, p. 142). Although the inter-censual decade added 163 million people, which was about 28 million more than the addition during the previous decade of 1971-81, yet in terms of percentage increase the decade of 1981- 91 recorded a growth of 23.85 per cent as against 24.66 per cent during the previous decade.
This is a healthy sign indicating the beginning of a new era in the country’s demographic history. This trend is continuing as is evidenced by the recently held 2001 census which recorded a decadal growth rate of 21.34 per cent (during 1991-2001).
The preceding discussion reveals that the decline in mortality rate has been the chief contributing factor towards the rapid increases in the country’s population. This rapid growth resulting from widening gap between the births and deaths has visual impact on the composition of the country’ I population.
The percentage of young population India’s total population has been increasing. Abo P 36.5 per cent of the country’s population was below B 15 years of age (1990) which meant a view high dependency ratio. The percentage of population in the reproductive age group has also bet M increasing as a consequence of high birth rate an increasing life expectancy at birth.
Large proportion of population in this sensitive age-group carries if own implications for a country like India which struggling hard to arrest its unobliging fertility rata I Above all, the rapid population growth hi neutralized the country’s achievements in both economic and social spheres (Chandna, 1996, pp. 13 I 140).
Rural and urban areas in the country shown wide disparity in their growth rates. Dunri the inter-censual period of 1981-91 while the rut I population increased by about 20.04 per cent, I increase in the urban population was more than 3 per cent. But since large part of the country’s population still lives in rural areas, in terms of acted numbers the ratio between rural and urban increase has been 1.8 to 1.
This is putting enormous presser I on the land resources. The increasing rural unemployment, poverty, deprivation, social tension out-migration are alarming signs of the problem. The out migration from rural areas is leading crowding of the urban centre, particularly the industrial centers. This is being manifested in planned urban growth, extension of slum areas and pollution hazards.
The previous decade. There are as many as 16 states where the decline has been more than the national average of 2.52. Other five states Rajasthan, Punjab, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Goa have their decline more than the national average. On the other hand seven states have experienced positive increase in their growth-rate between 1981-91 and 1991-01. Here the percentile increase ranges between the maximum of 8.33 in Nagaland to the minimum of 0.25 in Uttar Pradesh.
There are seven union territories in the country. Normally the union territories record high growth rate, which continues to increase as these are highly urbanized and hence continue to attract rural migrants. However, during 1991-01, 5 out of 7 union territories recorded a decline in their growth rate in comparison to the previous decade. These include Andaman and Nicobar islands (-21.76), Pondicherry (-13.08), Lakshedweep (-11.28), Delhi (-5.14) and Chandigarh (-1.83). On the other hand, the union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli (+25.63) and Daman and Diu (+26.97) have witnessed increase in their growth rate.
At the district level, it is significant to note that about 10 per cent districts (58) in the country recorded a growth of less than 10 per cent in their population. Tamil Nadu with 20 such districts was far ahead of other states in this regard, followed by Kerala (11), Andhra Pradesh (5), Karnataka (4), Maharashtra (3), Uttaranchal (3), and Delhi (2). Similarly there are 19 districts in the country in which the growth rate of population has been more than 50 per cent. Here Nagaland (5 districts) comes on the top followed by Delhi (4), Manipur (2), Haryana, U.P., Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Maharashtra (1 each).
During 1991-01 Nagaland has recorded the highest growth rate of population followed by Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Delhi and Chandigarh (above 40 per cent). As many as 15 states and all the 5 union territories have observed higher growth rate during this period than the national average (21.34 per cent). Of the remaining 13 states Kerala is characterised by the lowest growth rate (9.42 per cent) during 1981-91 followed by Tamil Nadu (11.19) and Andhra Pradesh (13.86).
Population projection is the method to estimate the future population and its growth. Such projection is very useful for planning. Various techniques have been suggested by scholars to estimate the projected population.
The Planning Commission of India constituted an Expert Committee on Population Projection in November 1984 under the Chairmanship of the Registrar General which estimated India’s population of 837.2 millions in 1991, 913.3 millions in 1996 and 986.1 in 2001 with average annual growth rates of 1.92 per cent, 1.74 per cent and 1.55 per cent respectively. Another committee was appointed by the Commission in October 1988 to work out the population projections made by the expert committee in the light of further data available on fertility, mortality and family planning.
While the committee agreed with the earlier committee on the assumptions regarding mortality, it revised the earlier committee’s fertility assumptions in the light of the trends observed during 1981-86. The projected figures presented by the committee for the year 1991 show minor variations from the actual census figures for that year, showing a negligible difference of 0.04 per cent.
According to the World Development Report 1990 until 2000 India’s population will be growing at the rate of 1.8 per cent per annum, in comparison to 1.7 per cent for world as a whole and 1.3 per cent for China. At this rate India will reach a population of 1007 million by the year 2000 and 1350 million by the year 2025. Similarly according to Population Reference Bureau, Washington DC 1992 the replacement level fertility which makes stationary population possible will take place in 2025-2030 when its population will reach 1.5 billion.
The Human Development Report 2000 estimates country’s population as 982.2 millions in 1998 and 1211.7 millions in 2015. Since majority of these projections are based on the current rate of fertility and mortality there is greater possibility of error in prediction. It has been observed that with the spread of education and greater awareness there is advancement in the marriage age, and larger preference for family planning programmes.