Chapter : 1
What Are Population Distribution ?
Part B - India : People And Economy
- India is the 2nd Most Populous country after China in the world with its total population of 1,028 million (2001).
- Such large a population puts pressure on the limited resources and is also responsible for many socio-economic problems in the country.
- India has a highly uneven pattern of population distribution. An uneven spatial distribution of population suggests a close relationship between population and physical, socio-economic and historical factors.
- Climate, terrain and availability of water largely determine the pattern of the population distribution. The North Indian Plains, deltas and Coastal Plains have higher proportion of population than the interior districts of South and Central Indian States, Himalayas, some of the north-eastern and the western states.
- The evolution of settled agriculture and agricultural development, pattern of human settlement, development of transport network, industrialization and urbanization are important socio-economic and historical factors of population distribution.
- The urban regions of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Pune, Ahmadabad, Chennai and Jaipur have high population concentration due to industrial development and urbanization drawing a large numbers of rural-urban migrants.
- Density of population is expressed as a number of persons per unit area and gives a better understanding of the spatial distribution of population in relation to land.
- The density of population in India (2011) is 382 persons per sq. km. There has been a steady increase of more than 200 persons per sq. km. over the last 50 years.
- There is a widespread spatial variation of population densities in the country from 17 persons per sq km in Arunachal Pradesh to 11,320 persons in the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
- Growth of population is the change in the number of people living in a particular area between two points of time and is expressed in percentage. The annual growth rate of India’s population is 1.64 per cent (2011).
- Population growth has two components - natural growth being analyzed by assessing the crude birth and death rates while the induced growth explained by the volume of in and out-migration of people in any given area.
- The population growth identifies 4 distinct phases over the last one century.
- Phase I, extending from 1901-1921, is referred to as the ‘Period of Stagnant Population Growth’ and is characterized by very low growth rate, even recording a negative growth rate during 1911-1921 due to the very high birth and death rate owing to poor health and medical services, illiteracy of people at large and inefficient distribution system of food and other basic necessities.
- Phase II, lying in the decades 1921-1951, is referred to as the ‘Period of Steady Population Growth’ where an overall improvement in the health and sanitation, better transport and communication system, improved distribution system throughout the country brought down the mortality rate.
- Phase III, from 1951-1981, is referred to as the ‘Period of Population Explosion in India’ caused by a rapid fall in the mortality rate but a high fertility rate with a high average annual growth rate of 2.2 per cent. The period after Independence witnessed the introduction of developmental activities through a centralized planning process resulting in improved economy ensuring better living condition of people at large. Besides, increased international migrants from Tibet, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan contributed to the high growth rate.
- Phase IV, expanding post 1981 till present, has high growth rate of population with signs of slowing down gradually and a downward trend of crude birth rate responsible for the phase. This is the result of an increase in the mean age at marriage and improved quality of life particularly education of females in the country.
- The growth of adolescents is an important aspect of population growth in India accounting for about 20.9% (2011) among which male adolescents constitute 52.7% while females are 47.3%.
- There are many challenges for the society as far as the adolescents are concerned who are vulnerable if not guided and channelized properly. Problems, such as lower age marriage, illiteracy – particularly female illiteracy, school dropouts, low intake of nutrients, high rate of maternal mortality, high rates of HIV/AIDS infections, physical and mental disability or retardedness, drug abuse and alcoholism, juvenile delinquency and crimes, etc.
- The Government of India has undertaken certain policies to impart proper education to the adolescent groups to channelize and properly utilize their talents. The National Youth Policy is one example, designed to look into the overall development of the large youth and adolescent population.
- The National Youth Policy of Government of India, launched in 2014, stresses on an all-round improvement of the youth and adolescents enabling them to shoulder responsibility towards constructive development of the country. The thrust of this policy is youth empowerment in terms of patriotism, responsible citizenship, effective decision making, being an able leader, deliberate efforts into youth health, sports and recreation, creativity and awareness about new innovations in the spheres of science and technology.
- Population composition is a distinct field of study within Population Geography with a vast coverage of analysis of age, sex, place of residence, ethnic characteristics, tribes, language, religion, marital status, literacy and education, occupational characteristics, etc.
- Rural–Urban Composition of population is determined by the respective places of residence as an important indicator of social and economic characteristics, more significant for a country with about 68.8% rural population (2011).
- There has been a considerable increase of urban population in India indicating development of urban areas in terms of socio-economic conditions and an increased rate of rural-urban migration.
- India is a land of linguistic diversity with 179 languages and 544 dialects in the country, according to Grierson (1903 – 1928). In the modern India, there are about 22 scheduled languages and a number of non-scheduled languages. The linguistic regions do not maintain sharp and distinct boundaries rather gradually merge and
overlap in their respective border zones.
- Religion is one of the most dominant forces affecting the cultural and political life of the most Indians which virtually permeates into almost all the aspects of people’s family and community lives.
- On the basis of the economic status, the Indian population is divided into three groups, which are main workers, marginal workers and non-workers. In India, the proportion of main and marginal workers is only 39.8 per cent (2011) leaving a vast majority of about 60 per cent as non-workers indicating an economic status with larger proportion of dependent population, and large number of unemployed or under employed people.
- The occupational composition of India’s population which means engagement of an individual in farming, manufacturing trade, services or any kind of professional activities shows a large proportion of primary sector workers compared to the secondary and tertiary sectors with about 54.6% of total working population. In India, male workers out-number female workers in all the three sectors.
- The number of female workers is relatively high in the primary sector with recent improvement in work participation of women in secondary and tertiary sectors.
- The proportion of workers in agricultural sector in India shows a decline over the last few decades with a consequent increase in the participation rate in secondary and tertiary sector indicating a shift of dependent workers from farm-based occupations to non-farm based ones and a sectoral shift in the economy of the country.