Population and Growth trends – density, sex ratio, literacy, tribes and racial groups in India



  • A population is a distinct group of individuals, whether that group comprises a nation or a group of people with a common characteristic
  • India with a total population of 1,210.2 million according to 2011 census figures, and is the second most populous country of the world, next only to China
    • India covers only 2.4% of the land area of the world, but it is home to about 17.5% of the world population
  • While India’s population growth has slowed remarkably over the last few years, it’s still growing faster thanChina and is expected to surpass China in population by 2028, according to United Nations population report
    • After 2030, India is expected to be the most populous country in the world
  • The below diagrammatic representation gives an idea of India’s dominant position, among the ten most populous countries of the world:


  • The data regarding population are collected through Censuses all over the world
    • A census count offers a spectrum of population at a particular point in time, covering a wide range of demographic, social and economic attributes of population
  • The year 1872 marked the beginning of census in India; but this one was not synchronous and not comprehensive
    • The first complete and synchronous census covering the entire country and providing vital demographic data was conducted in 1881
    • Since then, census has been conducted regularly after every 10 years
    • The 2011 census represents the fifteenth census of India, as reckoned from 1872 and seventh after Independence


Growth of Population: Basic concepts

  • Growth rate
    • This is the net change in population between two points of time, and is expressed in percentage
  • Natural growth
    • The difference between the natural birth-rate and death-rate is called the natural growth of population
  • Migratory growth
    • This growth of population is caused by migration of people
  • Positive growth
    • When birth rates are higher than death rates, or when people migrate in, it results in positive growth
  • Negative growth
    • This happens, when birth rates are lower than death rates; and when people migrate out


Population growth in India

  • Since 1901, there have been significant demographic divides, as far as trends in population growth are concerned
    • These significant turning points are the census years of 1921, 1951 and 1981
  • Thus, the demographic history of India can be classified into the following four distinct phases:
    • Period of Stagnant population(1901-1921)
      • During most of the 19th century, India witnessed sporadic, irregular and slow growth of population which drifted to 20th century until 1921
      • Thus, the population growth during this period can be termed as stagnant, when compared to the growth rates during consequent periods
      • The high birth rate was balanced by high death rates during this period
        • The high mortality during this period was the result of large scale deaths due to epidemics of influenza, plague, small pox, cholera, etc.
        • In addition, food shortages, loss of Indian lives during first World War, emigration of people to Africa contributed to lesser population growth rate as well
      • In fact, the census of 1921 recorded a negative growth rate of -0.31%, which happened only once throughout the demographic history of India
      • It is because of this decline in population, that the year 1921 is called the ‘Demographic Divide’ in the demographic history of India
    • Period of Steady Growth(1921-1951)
      • During this period, the population increased from 251 million to 361 million, registering a growth of 47.3%
        • Thus, this period is called the period of steady growth rate
      • The mortality rate reduced in India, as a result on improvement in general health and sanitation conditions after 1921
        • The decline of death rates during this time, can be attributed to the distribution system as well, where the improved transportation delivered timely supply of food, to drought and famine stricken areas
      • On the contrary, the crude birth rate continued to stay at an abnormally high level
        • Hence, population growth during this period is called the mortality induced growth
  • Period of Rapid High Growth(1951-81)
    • After 1951. there was a steep fall in the mortality rate, but the fertility remained stubbornly high
    • Therefore, this period experienced very high rate of population growth and is often referred to as the Period of Population explosion
    • The unprecedented growth rate was due to the accelerated developmental activities and further improvement in health facilities
      • The living conditions of people improved enormously, and death rates declined
      • Thus, this was fertility induced growth during this period
    • Period of High Growth Rate with definite signs of slowing down(1981-2011)
      • Although the rate of growth was still very high, it started declining after 1981
      • This declining trend marks the beginning of the new era in the country’s demographic history
      • The declining trend of birth rates during this period, were due to the official efforts of the state in birth control and people’s own inclination for smaller families
      • Although India’s population growth rate continues to decline since 1971( the year recorded highest ever growth rate of 2.48%/annum), yet India’s population growth rate is much higher as compared to that of China, USA, Brazil etc.


Indian Population growth in tune with classical theory of Demographic transition

  • During most of the 19th century, India witnessed a fluctuating but stagnant growth of population, which drifted into the 20th century until 1921
  • Thereafter, the country passed through all phases of demographic transition and is now widely believed to have entered the final phase, which is characterized by declining fertility
  • However, the UN Department of Economics and Social Affairs has estimated that India’s population will continue to increase till 2050, after which it will start decreasing by the end of 21st century


Spatio-Temporal Variations in Population growth

  • The average population growth rate of 17.64% during 2001-11 doesn’t give true picture, as there are differences in the growth rate with reference to space and time
    • Hence the need to assess the spatio-temporal variations in population growth
  • The phenomenon of low growth has spread beyond the boundaries of the southern states during 2001-11, where in addition to Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and Karnataka in the south, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab in the north, West Bengal and Odisha in the east and Maharashtra in the west have registered growth rate between 11-16% in 2001-11
  • Among smaller states and Union territories, Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu registered the highest growth rate of 55.5% and 53.54% respectively, between 2001-11
  • A glaring down trend in the growth rate has been observed in Nagaland, where there has been a steep fall in growth rate from 64.53% in 1991-2001, to negative growth rate of -0.47% in 2011 census
  • The second minimum growth rate of 4.86% has been recorded in Kerala
    • This state has reached high level of demographic transition and can be compare to the advanced countries of Europe and America
  • States which have registered very high growth rate of over 20% include – Bihar (25%), Jammu & Kashmir(23%), Chhattisgarh(22%) and Jharkhand(22%)
    • Other small states with higher growth rate are Meghalaya (27%) and Arunachal Pradesh(25%)


Growth of Child Population in Inida

  • Child population in the age group of 0-6 years has special significance in our demographic scene, because this segment of population determines the future course of trends in population growth when it reaches the reproductive age
  • According to the 2011 census figures, the total number of children in the age-group 0-6 years is 158.8 million
  • Five states namely Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have the largest number of children constituting 52% of India’s child population


  • The Census of 2021 in India, will be a digital one
  • The home ministry has said that Census 2021 will be carried out using a mobile phone app
    • It will be used to collect data by school teachers who will double up as enumerators during the Census exercise
    • The ministry also said that a Census portal has been developed
    • This is going to be 16th Census as reckoned from 1872 and eighth after Independence
  • There will also be a provision for self-enumeration this year
    • The individual will fill in the required details with the help of relevant codes for each field. After self-enumeration is done, an identification number will be sent on the registered number provided by the individual
    • The same ID number can be shared with the enumerator, which will help the official to sync the data automatically
  • However, The field activities related to thecensus 2021 exercise in the country have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic



Density of Population

  • Density of population is a better measure of understanding the variation in the distribution of population
    • It is expressed as the number of people per unit area
  • According to the census of 2011 ,the population density of India is 382 people/square km
  • The main cause of worry is that the Indian population density has been consistently increasing since 1921


State level Patterns in India

For the sake of convenience, the spatial distribution of population density is classified into following categories

  1. Areas of Extremely low density
    • Areas having 100 person/sq.km and less, are included in this category
    • The states and UT under this category, along with the factors are as below:
Factor determining DensityState/UT
Remote and inaccessible Arunachal Pradesh(17)
Mountainous areaSikkim(86)
Situated away from mainlandAndaman and Nicobar(46)
  1. Areas of low density
    • Areas having population density of 101-250 persons per sq.km are included in this class
    • The states and UT under this category, along with the factors are as below:
Factor determining DensityState/UT
Mountainous area & forestsMeghalaya(132),  Nagaland(119), Manipur(122)
Dry and cold areaserstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir(124)
Very little level landHimachal Pradesh(123), Uttarakhand(189)
Desert regionRajasthan(201)
Rugged topographyChhattisgarh(189) and Madhya Pradesh(236)
  1. Areas of Moderate Density
    • This class includes those areas having 251-500 people/sq.km
    • The states and UT under this category, along with the factors are as below:
Factor determining DensityState/UT
Tea estatesAssam(397)
Mountainous area & forestsTripura(350)
Agriculture and Mineral resourcesAndhra pradesh including Telangana(308), Odisha(269), Karnataka(319), Jharkhand(414)
Urbanisation and IndustrialisationMaharashtra(365), Gujarat(308)
  1. Areas of High Density
    • These are areas having population density of 501-1000 people/sq.km
    • The states and UT under this category, along with the factors are as below:
Factor determining DensityState/UT
Highly developed agriculturePunjab(550), Haryana(573)
Agriculture and IndustriesTamil Nadu(555)
Coastal fertile plainsKerala(859)
Fertile plainsUttar Pradesh(828)
  1. Areas of very high density
    • Areas having more than 1000 persons per sq.km fall under this category
    • The states and UT under this category, along with the factors are as below:
Factor determining DensityState/UT
Coastal fertile plains
migration and UrbanizationDelhi(11,297)
Fertile plainsBihar(1102)
Fertile plains and IndustrializationWest Bengal(1029)
  • Other UT in this category are Lakshadweep(2013), Daman & Diu(2169), Puducherry(2548), Chandigarh(9592)


The Map indicating the varying population density in India




  • One of the most important aspects of India’s population is its uneven distribution
  • On one hand, population in India is highly concentrated in some pockets, such as in highly urbanized, industrialized, and in areas of high agricultural productivity
    • While on the other hand, there are virtually demographic deserts in high mountains, arid lands, thickly forested areas and in some remote corners of the country


Major factors influencing the distribution and density of population

  1. Terrain
    • This is a potent factor which influences the concentration and growth of population
    • In general, plain areas encourage higher density of population, as compared to mountain regions
      • It is because of this reason, that Himalayas which occupy 13% of India’s land area, support only 1-2% of country’s population
      • Also, the great plain of North India which cover less than one-fourth of country’s land area, is home to more than half of India’s population
  1. Climate
    • The twin elements of rainfall and temperature, play an important role in determining the population of an area
    • Extremes of climate aren’t favorable, while a moderate climate favors population concentration
    • It is said that, ‘the population map of India follows its rainfall map”
      • As we move from Ganga-Brahmaputra delta in the east, to the Thar desert in the west, the amount of rainfall and density of population decreases
    • An exception to this, is the north-western region of India comprising of Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh, where high population concentration is evident because of the developed irrigation facilities
    • Since India is a tropical country, temperature is fairly high and does not play as important role as is done by rainfall except in extreme areas
  2. Soil
    • This factor plays an important role in an overwhelmingly agricultural country like India
    • In the northern plain of India, where soil in enriched by the great rivers, high population density is found
      • Similarly, the coastal plains with fertile soils have high population density
    • On other hand, deserts, mountains with infertile soil have lesser densities
  3. Water Bodies
    • Water is a basic necessity for irrigation, industries, transport and domestic use
    • And rivers are a greatest source of fresh water
    • Hence, most population is concentrated in river valleys
  4. Mineral resources
    • The higher population densities in the Chhota Nagpur plateau region, and adjoining regions of Odisha are largely due to availability of minerals
  5. Industries
    • Industrial growth offers massive employment opportunities and acts as a great magnet to attract people, resulting in higher densities
    • Major causes of high density in West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Maharashtra and Gujarat is the phenomenal growth of Industries in these states
  1. Transport
    • The northern plains of India has a dense network of transport routes and hence is a densely populated region
    • The peninsular plateau has moderate network of transport routes, and is moderately populated area
    • The Himalayan region badly lacks transport facilities, and is sparsely populated
  2. Urbanization
    • All urban areas are marked by high density of population, as evident in cities of Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi


Distribution of Population in India

  • Uttar Pradesh has the largest population of 199.5 million; followed by Maharashtra(112.3 million), Bihar(103.8 million), West Bengal(91.3 million) and Andhra Pradesh including Telangana(84.6 millions)
    • These five states account for about half of the country’s population
  • According to the 2011 Census
    • Sikkim has the smallest population among all the Indian states
    • Delhi with 16.75 million has the largest population among all the Union territories
  • The complete scenario of population distribution in Indian states is as indicated below:



  • The Population Commission of United Nations considers the ability, to both read and write a simple message with understanding in any language, a sufficient basis for classifying a person as Literate
  • According to Census of India, ”person aged seven and above, who can both read and write with understanding in any language, is treated as literate”
    • It was decided at the 1991 Census that all Children in the age group 0-6, would be treated as illiterate by definition and the population aged seven years and above only would be classified as literate or illiterate
    • It should be noted clearly that, it is not necessary that to be treated as literate, a person should have received any formal education or acquired any minimum educational standard
  • Generally two types of it are calculated as below:
    • Crude Literacy rate = ((No of literate persons)/Total population)*100
    • Effective literacy rate = ((Number of Literate persons aged 7 and above)/Population aged 7 and above)*100
    • Here, Effective literacy rate and literacy rate will be used interchangeably

Literacy rate-Trends

  • The effective literacy rate for India in Census 2011, works out to 74.04%
    • The corresponding figures for male and female are 82.14% and 65.46% respectively
  • Improvement in Literacy rates when compared with 2001
    • Overall improvement – 9.21%
    • Improvement of literacy rate in male – 6.88%
    • Improvement of literacy rate in female – 11.79%
  • Literacy rate in urban areas was higher 87.7% than rural areas with 73.5%, according to 2011 Census


Literates and Illiterates by Gender

  • One of the interesting feature of Census 2011 is that out of total literates added during the decade, females out number males
  • The decadal(from 2001-2011) increase in number of literates among males is 31.98%; while the corresponding increase in case of females is of 49.1%
  • The above two changes are a clear indication of the fact that gender gap in literacy is shrinking in the country
  • Lakshadweep(96.11%) hold the first position in the country with respect to male literacy rate; while Kerala(96.02%) ranks second
    • Bihar(73.39%) state has recorded the lowest male literacy rate
  • Kerala state holds the first rank, in female literacy with 91.98%
    • Rajasthan(52.66%) state has recorded the lowest female literacy rate

Regional Variations in Literacy Rates

  • Kerala ranks first in the country with a literacy rate of 93.91%, closely followed by Lakshadweep (92.28%) and Mizoram(91.58%)
  • Bihar with a literacy rate of 63.82% ranks last in the country, preceded by Arunachal Pradesh (66.95%) and Rajasthan(67.06%)
  • The gap in literacy rates of males and females is lowest in Meghalaya (3.1 percentage points) and less than 5 percentage points in the States of Kerala and Mizoram and between 5 to 10 percentage points in A&N Island, Chandigarh, Goa, Lakshadweep Nagaland, Punjab and Tripura
  • The gap in literacy rates of males and females is highest in the State of Rajasthan (27.1 percentage points) and much more in the States of Chhattisgarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh


Measures taken in India towards increasing Literacy rate

  • The Constitution of India recognizes the importance of education for all. Therefore, it lays down several provisions to ensure proper and effective implementation of educational rights in the country, which include:
    • Education of Minorities: Article 30 of the Indian Constitution gives all minorities the right to establish and administer institutions of their own choice
    • Free and Compulsory Education: The Constitution of India (u/a 41, 45 and 46 of the Directive Principles of State Policy) instructs the state to ensure that all citizens receive free education
  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)
    • The program was launched in 2001, and it aims to universalise education and improves its quality by time-bound implementation strategy and context-specific planning. It includes children from all social classes
  • Midday Meal Scheme
    • This plan was launched in 1995 to provide mid-day meals to children studying in primary class. The main objective of creating this scheme was to eliminate classroom hunger of children and to increase attendance and enrolment of children at schools
  • The Right to Education (RTE) Act was enacted in 2009, and this Act made education for every child between 6 and 14 years a fundamental right
  • The National Education Policy  2020, aims to achieve 100% youth and adult literacy.


Efforts needed to take India’s Literacy rate to greater heights

  • Revamping the teacher education (TE) system
    • We should focus on revamping curriculum and pedagogy to bring modern and innovative elements within it and making it a lot more rigorous.
  • Create a national discourse and imperative around the importance of good quality school leadership. This will help in improving and maintaining school quality, nurturing a learning culture within schools, maintaining teacher motivation, ensuring respect for and involvement of all stakeholders
  • Work on expanding the idea of good education. There is need to extend it beyond rote learning of concepts. It should largely focus on cognitive development to a belief that values the uniqueness of a child and the celebration of different definitions of ‘intelligence’.
  • Extend the scope. With the Right to Education (RTE) Act now making primary education compulsory, there is need look at extending its scope to include pre-primary education (which is not there in all states).




  • Our present day population is a conglomeration of people belonging to different racial groups with different backgrounds
  • These people entered India from different parts of the world, at different points in time, adopting various land and water routes
  • Almost all the major races of the world are visible in India, as a result of which the country is said to have a varied and diverse ethnic composition


Racial groups, from which the present day population of the country has been derived

    • According to the Geographers, these were the earliest occupants of India
      • Also, they have expressed their view that Negroid people migrated to India from Africa and established their language on the soil of India
    • These features are met with particularly amongst the Andaman islanders, the Uralis of Nilgiri Hills, Kadors of Kochi, Pullayans of Palni Hills, etc.
      • The tribes like the Angami Nagas in the North-East, and Badgis in Rajmahal Hills in Jharkhand possess their traits
    • The race is characterized by short stature, dark chocolate brown skin, woolly hair, bulbous forehead, broad flat nose and slightly protruding jaws
    • These are believed to have come to India from the East Mediterranean area(Palestine), soon after the Negritos
    • Presently, they constitute the bulk of the population in many isolated parts of central and southern India
    • The Veddahs, Irulas and Sholagas are their true representatives
      • The Bhils, Kols, Badagas, Korwas, Mundas, Bhumjis of the highlands of the Central India and the Chenchus, Kurumbas, Malayans and Yeruvas of South India may all be treated as their representatives as well
    • According to some Anthropologists, these people on their arrival pushed, displaced and supplanted the Negritos to shift to more inaccessible, remote and less hospitable areas, where they are found even today
    • In physical appearance, they more or less resemble the Negritos with the exception of woolly hair
      • Their other physical characteristics are bulbous forehead, broad flat nose and slightly protruding jaws
    • It is believed that China is the homeland of the Mongoloid race, from where they were pushed southward into the Malaya Peninsula and Indonesia
    • They entered India through the passes in the northern and eastern mountains
    • Presently, they occupy large areas in Ladakh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and other parts of East India
    • Their physical characteristics include a round and broad head, face with very high cheek bones and a long flat nose, with little or no hair on the face and the body
    • The tribes of Garo, Khasi, Jaintia, Lipchas, Chakmas, Naga belong to this race
  • They are further classified as:
    • Paleo-Mongoloids– They were the first of the Mongoloids who came to India. These people are settled mainly in the border areas of the Himalayas. They are found mostly in Assam and the adjacent states
    • Tibeto-Mongoloids– These people came from Tibet and are settled mainly in Bhutan, Sikkim, areas of north-western Himalayas and beyond the Himalayas in which Ladakh and Baltistan are included.
    • This racial stock came to India from eastern Mediterranean region or South West Asia
    • They are believed to have migrated during the third and second millennium BC
    • Their physical characteristics include medium stature, dark skin and long head
    • In all probability, they first settled in North-western India and started practicing agriculture there; post which they were pushed into central and southern India by subsequent immigrants
    • Presently, they form the bulk of population of south India and a considerable proportion in northern India
    • The Mediterranean were the chief architect of the Indus Valley civilization as is evident from the excavations of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa
    • These are characterized by Broad heads
    • Coorgis and Parsis are their representatives in India
    • These are further sub-divided into three major groups:
      • Alpinoids, who came to India along the route passing through Baluchistan, Sind, Kathiawar, Gujarat, Maharashtra,, Karnataka and Tamilnadu
      • Dinarics, who followed the Ganga Valley and its delta as their route to enter India
      • Armenoids, who came through Chitral, Gilgit, Kashmir and Nepal to enter India
    • They spoke the Aryan language and migrated to India sometime during the second millennium BC
    • The main concentration of these people is in the north-western part of the country
      • They are a predominant type in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan
    • The main characteristics of this race are long head, fair complexion, well developed nose and a well-built strong body



  • Sex Composition of the human population is one of the basic demographic characteristics; as changes in sex composition largely reflect the underlying socio-economic and cultural patterns of society in different ways.
    • It is an important social indicator to measure the extent of prevailing equity between males and females at a given point in time
    • It also becomes important for various types of planning and for the analysis of other demographic characteristics such as mortality, migration, marital status, economic characteristics, etc.
  • Sex composition is expressed with the help of a ratio known as sex ratio
    • SEX RATIO is defined as ”number of females per 1000 males in the population”
    • Thus, a sex ratio of 1000 implies complete parity between the two sexes
    • Ratios above 1000 indicate excess of females over males; those below 1000 indicate a deficit of females
  • There are three reasons why the sex ratio of populations varies and is rarely equal:
    • Differences in mortality rates and life expectancy for women and men. Women, on average, live longer than men. This means that all else being equal, we would expect females to account for slightly more than half of the total population.
    • Sex ratios at birth are not equal. In all countries, there are more male than female births
      • In the absence of selective abortion practices, births in a given population are typically male-biased – the chances of having a boy are very slightly higher than having a girl.
    • Migration can also affect the sex ratio of the population. If in some countries there is a significant amount of imported male-dominant labour, all else being equal, we would expect males to account for more than half of the total population


  • According to figures of 2011 Census, out of 1210.1 million population, 623.7 million are male and 586.4 million are females
  • Thus, the overall sex ratio for Indian Population according to the 2011 Census, is 943
    • This suggests that the number of females is quite less as compared to males
    • In other words, the sex ratio in the country had always remained unfavorable to females
    • The sex-ratio was 933 in the previous census 2001.
  • Following are some important factors responsible for low and declining sex ratio:
    • More males are born than females
      • This is a worldwide phenomenon and India is no exception to this
      • According to the findings of the Census of India, the imbalance in the number of males and females starts in the beginning
      • It is now a well-established law of nature, that the males exceed females at the time of birth
      • Many demographers believe that left to its own, this is an unalterable constant
    • Practice of female infanticide in the past, and the cognizant feticide at present have resulted in low sex ratio
      • The preference for male child, leads to sex determination tests and the resultant termination of pregnancy in case fetus happens to be a female
      • The pre-conception and pre-natal diagnostic Technique(Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, has failed to yield the desired result, because of its inherent loopholes and faulty implementation
    • With small family norms, many young couples do not go for a second child, if the first child happens to be a male

State level patterns of Sex Ratio

  • During the post-Independence period from 1951 to 2011, sex ratio in rural India has decreased from 965 to 946 and increased from 860 to 929 in urban India
  • At all India level, the sex ratio has decreased from 946 in 1951 to 943 in 2011
  • During this period 19 States/UTs have recorded significant increase in sex ratio
    • Notable increase has been recorded in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, (40.16%), Delhi (13.02%), Assam (10.34%) and West Bengal (9.82%). Contrary to this, 16 States/UTs have recorded significant decrease in Sex ratio.
    • Notable decrease in sex ratio have been recorded in Daman & Diu (45.03%), Dadra & Nagar Haveli (18.19%), Goa (13.71%), Lakshadweep (9.25%) and Bihar (8.21%)


  • From the above Graph of state wise sex ratio in India, following conclusion can be drawn:
    • the lowest sex ratio in India is in Haryana, where sex ratio is only 879 whereas the highest sex ratio is in Kerala (1084)
    • If we talk about the sex ratio in the union territories; Puducherry has highest sex ratio of 1037 while Daman and Diu has lowest sex ratio (618) among all the union territories of India
    • Position of the bottom five is occupied by the five Union Territories of India i.e. Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Delhi, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
    • Puducherry and Lakshadweep are the only two union territories which have sex ratio of more than 900 females per thousand males
  • In 2011, in age groups 0-6, 0-19, 15-45 and 60+, sex ratio has been observed as 918, 908, 944 and 1033 respectively


Child Sex Ratio

  • The Child Sex Ratio is defined as thenumber of females per 1000 males in the age group 0–6 years.
  • In the census 2001 the child sex ratio of India was 927 which declined to 918 in the census 2011

  • As per the census 2011, Arunachal Pradesh has the highest child sex ratio among the Indian states i.e. 972while Haryana has the lowest child sex ratio i.e.834 per thousand males.
    • Among the Union Territories of India; Andaman and Nicobar Islands has the highest child sex ratio i.e.968 per thousand males
  • The current child sex ratio is very critical for any demographic set up because, it is this sex ratio that will determine the overall sex ratio in the coming years
  • Some of the reasons for neglect of girl child and low child sex ratio are:
    • Son preference and the belief that it is only the son who can perform the last rites, that lineage and inheritance runs through the male line, sons will look after parents in old age, men are the bread winners etc.
    • Exorbitant dowry demand is another reason for female foeticide/infanticide
    • Small family norm coupled with easy availability of sex determination tests may be a catalyst in the declining child sex ratio, further facilitated by easy availability of Pre-conception sex selection facilities.


Consequences of Low Child Sex Ratio

  • The shortage of women has led to a sharp rise in violence against them
    • This has led to a situation where, apart from the ingrained son preference, people don’t want girls all the more as they feel that it is difficult to keep them safe
  • In a study done by the Centre for Social Research in Haryana, fear of violence is a cause for female foeticide
  • It will impact marriage patterns in several ways
    • Having lesser women of marriageable age will mean that a significant proportion of men will have to delay their marriage
  • The reduced demographic share of women, in democratic regimes would translate into a weaker political voice in public decision-making, a trend that could be reinforced by women’s lessened involvement in non-domestic activities, such as outside employment and civil life

The steps taken to improve the sex ratio in India

  • Complete ban under law on sex determination during pregnancy under the PCPDNT Act
  • Declaring 24th January as the National Girl Child Day in 2012
  • Sabla scheme launched on the International Women’s day in 2011, aims at enabling self-development and empowerment of adolescent girls, improving their health and nutrition status; and spreading awareness about health, hygiene, nutrition, reproductive health, family and child care
  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme was launched in 2015 in Panipat, Haryana to address the issue of decline in child sex ratio, whose objectives are:
    • Prevention of gender biased sex selective elimination
    • Ensuring survival & protection of the girl child
    • Ensuring education and participation of the girl child
  • Other recommendations/suggestions:
    • Rolling out campaigns on sensitisation towards women and children
    • Effective implementation of the existing women- and children-related policies
    • Improving women’s status in the society, could help change the bias for son preference
    • Investing on education and economic prosperity could help empower women and reduce gender gap




  • The tribes are the native people of the land, who are believed to be the earliest settlers in the Indian Peninsula
    • They are generally called Adivasi, implying original inhabitants
  • The ancient literature mentions, a large number of tribes living in India
    • Before the introduction of caste system during the Brahminic age, people were divided into various tribes
    • A tribe was a homogenous and self-contained unit without any hierarchical discrimination
  • The study of tribal population suffers from serious anomalies, as there is no clear cut and scientific criteria for this purpose
    • For example, the Gonds are a Scheduled tribe in Madhya Pradesh, and are Scheduled caste in Uttar Pradesh
  • Article 366 (25) defines scheduled tribes as “such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this constitution”.
  • Article 342 of the Indian Constitution provides for specification of tribes or tribal communities, which are deemed to be for the purposes of the Constitution of Scheduled tribes, in relation to that state or Union Territory

Growth of Tribal Population

  • The demographic study of tribal population has suffered seriously, due to the adoption of arbitrary criteria for ‘scheduling’ the tribes
  • The enumeration of Schedules tribes in India, soon after Independence, led to strains in the Indian polity, as a large section of them were left out
    • The modification order of 1956, enumerated more tribal people, and in total they accounted for 23% of total population of the country at that time
  • According to 2011 Census, the tribal population formed 8.61% of total population
    • 97% of them live in rural areas and 10.03% in urban areas
    • The decadal population growth of the tribals from Census 2001 to 2011 has been 23.66% against the 17.69% of the entire population
    • The sex ratio for the overall population is 940 females per 1000 males and that of Scheduled Tribes 990 females per thousand males
  • The growth of scheduled tribes population was due to following reasons:
    • There has been a rapid natural growth of tribal population
    • Additions have been made to the list of Scheduled tribes time and again

Distribution of Scheduled Tribes

  • The spatial distribution of tribes is characterized by a striking tendency of clustering and concentrating in pockets, which have suffered from isolation and are situated in areas where environmental setting is, by and large, not suitable for settled agriculture
    • Thus, most of tribal communities live in hilly and forested tracts and other remote areas of the country
  • Constrained by the rigors of environment, which fostered physical and social isolation for ages, the tribal communities have developed their own traditional mode of living
    • However, their interaction with non-tribal people after Independence has changed the scenario to some extent

State level patterns

  • No tribes have been scheduled in Punjab and Haryana, and the Union Territories of Delhi, Chandigarh and Puducherry
    • While as much as 94.43% of total population in Mizoram and 94.79% in Lakshadweep belong to Scheduled Tribes
    • The other states/UTs with predominantly Scheduled Tribes population are
      • Nagaland (86.48%)
      • Meghalaya (86.15%)
      • Arunachal Pradesh (68.79%)
    • Among the states, Chhattisgarh has the largest proportion of Scheduled Tribes population of 30.62%, followed by Jharkhand 26.21%
      • Gujarat, Assam, Rajasthan, Jammu-Kashmir region and Goa are the four major states in which more than 10% of the population belong to Scheduled tribes
    • Roughly one-third of the Scheduled tribes population of India lives in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha
    • Going by absolute numbers, the Scheduled Tribes population was the highest in Madhya Pradesh, followed by Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jharkhand and so on

The complete list of name of tribes, along with their location in India, can be found on the below link: tribal.nic.in


Tribal Economy

  • The dominant economies of the tribes are:
  1. Hunting, Fishing and Gathering
    • The main tribes which practice these professions are the Raji in Uttar Pradesh; Kharia, Birhor, Korwa, Pariha and Birgias in Jharkhand; Kuki in West Bengal; Bhil in Rajasthan; Konyak and Naga in Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh; etc.
  2. Shifting Cultivation and Lumbering
    • In this type of cultivation, a piece of forest land in cleared by slash and burn technique and crops are grown
      • After 2-3 years, the fertility of the soil is reduced and the farmer shifts to another piece of land
    • It is called Jhum in North-East India, Kumari in Western Ghats, Watra in South-East Rajasthan; penda, bewar, dahia and deppa in different parts of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh
    • Lumbering involved obtaining wood from forests
    • Main tribes involved in shifting cultivation and lumbering are Bhutias in Uttar Pradesh; Korwa in Jharkhand; Bhil in Maharashtra and Gujarat; Naga, Chakmas, Garo, Notia in North eastern states; etc.
  3. Sedentary Cultivation and Animal husbandry
    • Sedentary cultivation is a type of agriculture in which a farmer grows crops to meet his own requirements and not much is left for sale in market
      • This is generally practiced along with Animal Husbandry
    • Main tribes adopting these are Tharu, Bhotias in Uttar Pradesh; Santhal, Polia and Bhumji in West Bengal; Irula in Tamilnadu; Bhil in Maharashtra; etc.

Challenges faced by Indian tribes

  • Loss of Control over Natural Resources
    • With the advent of industrialisation in India and the discovery of mineral and other resources in tribal inhabited areas, the tribal pockets were thrown open to outsiders and state control replaced tribal control.
    • With the impetus to the development process after independence, pressure on land and forests increased
    • This resulted in loss of ownership rights over land, owing to chronic indebtedness, unscrupulous landlords, money­lenders, contractors and officials
    • With the concepts of protected forests and national forests gaining currency, the tribals felt themselves uprooted from their cultural moorings and with no secure means of livelihood.
  • Lack of Education
    • As per Census 2011, literacy rate of Scheduled Tribes (STs) was 59%
    • The factors which inhibit the tribals from taking to education are superstitions and prejudices, extreme poverty, nomadic lifestyle of certain tribes, lack of interest in alien subjects taught through an alien language and a lack of suitable teachers and other facilities in the tribal areas.
  • Problems of Health and Nutrition
    • Because of economic backwardness and insecure livelihood, the tribals face health problems, such as prevalence of disease, like malaria, cholera, tuberculosis, diarrhoea and jaundice, problems associated with malnutrition like iron deficiency and anaemia, high infant mortality rates, low levels of life expectancy, etc.
  • Gender Issues
    • The degradation of the natural environment, particularly through the destruction of forests and a rapidly shrinking resource base, has had its impact on the status of women
    • The opening of the tribal belts to mining, industries and commercialisation has exposed tribal men and women to the ruthless operations of the market economy, giving rise to consumerism and to commoditisation of women.

Measures taken towards Tribal Development

  • Constitutional Provisions and Safeguards
    • Article 342 lays down that the President may by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within tribes or tribal communities or parts which shall for the purpose of this Constitution deemed to be Scheduled Tribes
    • Article 164 provides for a Ministry of Tribal Welfare in each of the State of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa which have large concentration of Scheduled Tribes population
    • Article 244 provides for the inclusion of a Fifth Schedule in the Constitution for incorporating provisions for the administration of Scheduled Areas and Tribes of the States which have sizeable tribal population (other than those of Assam)
    • Article 275 provides for the grant of special funds by the Union Government to State Government for promoting the welfare of Scheduled Tribes and providing them with a better administration.
  • Representation in Legislatures and Panchayats
    • Under Article 330 and 332 of the Indian Constitution, seats have been reserved for Scheduled Tribes in Lok Sabha and state Vidhan Sabhas.
    • Following the introduction of Panchayati Raj, Suitable safeguards have been provided for proper representation of the members of the Scheduled Tribes by reserving seats for them in the Gram Panchayats, Block Panchayats, District Panchayats etc.
  • Reservation in the Service
    • Government has made provisions for their adequate representation in the services. To facilitate their adequate representation certain concessions have been provided, such as:
      • Exemption in age limits
      • Relaxation in the standard of suitability
    • Commissioner for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes
      • Under Article 338 of Indian Constitution a Commissioner has been appointed by the President of India. The main duty of the Commissioner is
      • to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution and
      • to report the President on working of these safeguards.
  • Other schemes by the Government Include:
    • The scheme of Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Development of Value Chain for MFP covers various activities including procurement of MFPs when their market price falls below their notified MSP, setting up/expansion of storage facilities, expanding the knowledge base on MFP, training for sustainable collection, value addition, etc.
    • Pre Matric Scholarship Scheme for ST students
    • Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for ST students
    • National Overseas Scholarship for ST students for studying abroad.
    • National Fellowship and Scholarship for Higher Education of ST students
    • Grants-in-aid to Voluntary Organisations Working for welfare of STs
    • Strengthening Education among ST Girls in Low Literacy Districts
    • Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)
    • Special Central Assistance(SCA) to Tribal Sub-Scheme(TSS)
    • Grants-in-aid to Tribal Research Institutes
    • Research Information & Mass Education, Tribal Festival and Others