Main Features of the Population of India

The study of human resources is vital from the point of view of economic welfare. It is particularly important because human beings are not only instruments of production but also ends in themselves. It is necessary to know in quantitative terms the number of people living in a country at a particular time, the rate at which they are growing and the composition and distribution of population. The demographic profile of India classifies the nature of population problem faced by us. Some of the salient features that emerge from it are as under:

1. Large Population base : From the point of view of population, India ranks second in the world and from the view point of area it occupies the 7th place. With 2.4% of the world area and 1.2% of the world’s income, India is supporting 16.6% of world’s population. In 1891, the total population of India was 23.67 crore. It increased to 102.70 crore in 2001. Current population of India is more than the population of U.S.A. and CIS taken together whereas the two countries have 21% of the world area.

2. High growth rate of population : The growth rate of population in India since the fifties has been consistently high and has been caused by continuously high fertility and declining mortality. Every year population increases by 1.7 crore. The compound annual growth rate of population during 1891 to 1921 was 0.19%; during 1921-51 it was 1.22%; during 1951-81 it was 2.15%. At present it is 1.95%.

3. High density of population : Density of population refers to me number of people living in one square kilometre area. India’s density of population was 117 in 1951. It has increased to 324 in 2001. It implies that the availability of land per person is falling. In comparison with other countries of the world, India occupies middle position.

4. Low expectation of life : Expectation of life refers to the average life of people of a country If the death rate is high life expectancy will be low and vice-versa. If the death rate occurs at an early age, life expectancy will be low and vice-versa. During the last few decades, the death rate in India has recorded too much fall. Due to this, life expectancy has increased in India. Life expectancy was 23 years in 1911. It increased to 63 years in 1999. In other countries of the world, life expectancy is between 70 to 80 years.

5. Sex ratio : Sex ratio means the number of women per 1000 men. The sex distribution of population in India shows two things (1) a higher ratio of males in the population (2) a falling tendency of the proportion of women in total population. The proportion of females per 1000 males has fallen from 962 in 1901 to 933 in 2001. Among the various States of India, Kerala alone shows a higher proportion of females per 1000 males in 2001.

6. Occupational Structure: By occupational structure we mean the distribution of work force in different occupations. In India, there is heavy dependence on primary sector. At present about 65% of the population is dependent on primary sector. Non-agriculture absorbing hardly 35% of the total working population i.e. 15% in secondary sector and 20° in tertiary sector. We also find that the dependence on primary sector from 1971 is falling and that on secondary and tertiary sectors is increasing. It is a good sign of the development of the country.

7. Age Structure : Age structure of the population of a country indicates the extent to which the population of that country is useful from the economic point of view. In 1911, 39% of the population was below the age group of 15 years. In 1991, it rose to 36.5%. In 1911, 60% of the population was in the age group of 15-60 years. In 1991, it came down to 57.1%. In 1911, 1% of the population was above 60 years of age. In 1991, it increased to 6.4%. On account of high birth rate in India, there has been no decline in the percentage of people below the age of 15 years.