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.

Population Situation in India

Population, as a source of human power, plays a significant role in the economic development of a country. Both the quality and quantity of population are essential elements for economic growth. India’s population increased rapidly in the post-independence period. Between 1951-61, there was an increase of 7 crore and 78 lakh in India’s population. This growth rate per cent which is more than the growth rate in the last 40 years. This rapid growth of population is called ‘Population Explosion’ Since 1951, population has been continuously rising. Thus the main problem of India, on the one hand, is the rapid rate of growth of population and on the other hand, it is the problem of poverty of population. In terms of GDP India ranks 12th in the world. But at the same time India’s large population makes it one of the world’s poorest countries in terms of per capita income.

Size and Growth of Population

From the point of view of population, after China, India occupies the second place in the world and from the point of view of area, her place is seventh. Thus on 2.4 per cent of world’s area and with 1.2 per cent of world’s income, India is maintaining 16.6 per cent of world’s population. It is evident from this that there is excessive burden of population on India. Every year there is an addition of about 1 crore 70 lath in our country’s population.

The trend of the growth of population in India since 1921 has been continuing. That is why Census Commissioner has referred to the year 1921 as a “Year of Great Divide” From 1951 onwards is a period of population explosion. The main cause of the excessive rise in population in 50 years (1951-2001) was that whereas the birth rate did not show much fall, the death rate declined substantially due to better medical aid and facilities.

Causes of Increase In Population or Causes of Population Explosion

Population in a country can increase because of two factors

(a) Difference in With rate and death rate.
(b) Difference between Immigrants and emigrants.

It is the difference between birth rate and death rate that influences the growth rate of population in India. The main cause of increase in population is the substantial decline in death rate as compared to birth rate. Between 1901 and 1910 birth rate was 49.2 per thousand and death rate was 42.6 per thousand. Between 1971 and 2001 the birth rate declined to 27.2 per thousand and death rate to 8.9 per thousand. Thus even now birth rate is sufficiently high while death rate has declined considerably. Thus there are two main causes of increase in population (i) High birth rate and (ii) Low death rate.

Birth rate and death rate in India are high as compared to several countries of the world(Birth rate refers to number of child,’n born per thousand persons in a year and death rate refers to number of people dying per thousand persons in a year. Then it is said that birth rate in India is 27.2 it implies every year 27.2 children are born per thousand persons, on the average. The difference between birth rate and death rate is known as growth rate or survival rate.

Causes of High Birth Rate

The causes of high birth rate are: (a) Natural factors, (b) Universality of marriage(c) Early marriage, (d) Poverty (e) Illiteracy, (f) Low status of women, (g) Joint family system, (h) Social views, (i) Less effect of family planning.

According to Dr. Chandershekhar, high birth-rate is part of our culture. When the physical attitude of the society changes, either voluntarily or under the pressure of circumstances, then only the rate will decline in India.

Causes of Declining Death Rate

Death rate in India has declined from 27.4 per thousand in 1950-51 to 8.9 per thousand )2000-01 and it is due to the following reasons: (a) More medical facilities, (b) Decline in epidemics,(c) Facilities of maternity homes, (d) Spread of female education, (e) Decline in social evils, (f) Urbanisation of population, (g) Late marriages.

Consequences or Effects of Population Explosion

In he context of economic growth and social welfare it is necessary to know whether population increase is beneficial or not. The reality is that problem of population explosion in India happened to be a big hindrance in the success of economic planning and rapid rate of economic development. It has neutralised all the good efforts made during the five-year plans. Poverty, unemployment, km standard of living, low rate of capital formation, shortage of food supply, low per capita income etc. in India are to a large extent, the consequences of population explosion.
The main benefit of population increase is that it has provided sufficient labour for agricultural and industrial development. In India about 30 crore are working population. This has provided not only inefficient workers but also efficient workers such as engineers, doctors, administrators, teachers etc. India has third place in the world so far as the supply of technical manpower is concerned.

Suggestions or Remedies for Population Control

A definite population policy is required for the solution of population problem. According to Planning Commission, population policy in our country should be based on the following two elements:

(A) Growth rate of population should be brought down. (B) Economic Development of the country to improve its economic condition.
(A) For decreasing the growth rate the following measures may be adopted: (i) Late Marriages,. (ii) Spread of education, (iii) Improvement in the standard of living, (iv) Respectful position for women in the society (v) Encouragement to urbanisation, (vi) Change in the social outlook, (vii) Spread family planning, (viii) Adoption of children, (ix) Spread of Ayurvedic methods, (x) Abortion, (xi) Propaganda.

(B) Economic Development. With a view to solving the qualitative problem of population, it is imperative that there should be economic development of the country. That is the only effective way of catering to the needs of ever-rising population. Economic development implies fuller and proper utilization of natural resources. Modern methods of production should be adopted in agriculture and industries. Labourers be imparted technical training for increasing the efficiency.