An Analysis of Census 2001 State-specific Population Data


National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration
New Delhi – 110016 (INDIA)



The Census 2001 results are just released. So far, only total population and its male and female distribution, 0-6 population, sex ratio, density of population and literacy rates have been disseminated. The data is available both at the all-India, as well as, state level. However, district level data and information on a variety of other indicators included in the Census is eagerly awaited. An attempt has been made to use this set of data to assess the contribution of formal education system to total literates produced during the period 1991-2001.In addition indicators, such as, male/female differential in literacy rate, literate per lakh population, percentage contribution to literates and illiterates increase during 1991 and 2001, female/male ratio of literacy rates, sex ratio among literate population and state-wise number of decades required to achieve universal literacy rate have also been computed and analysed to know more about literacy development in the country.

Free and compulsory education to all children up to the age fourteen is the constitutional commitment in India. Despite spectacular quantitative expansion in every sphere of elementary education, the goal to achieve universal enrolment is still a far distant dreame. Census 2001 is a mixed lot of satisfaction and to some extent some dissatisfaction also. The population has shown a declining trend but it is still about 2 per cent. During the period 1991-2001, the population of India increased at the rate of 1.95 per cent per annum to 1,027 million, which is 16.7 per cent of the total world population. In absolute terms, population during the same period increased by more than 180 million. It is also heartening to note that the present growth rate (1.95 per cent) is the lowest in the last four decades. The decline in growth rate suggests that finally family planning measures have started showing results, however the impact is only marginal. The recent data of Sample Registration System suggest lower annual growth rate than reported by the Census 2001. The Economic Survey: 2000-01, even projected a further lower growth rate of 1.6 per cent between the years 1997 and 1999. All this suggests that the decline will be even more rapid in years that follow.

The male and female population in 2001 stands at 531 and 496 million that gives a sex ratio of 933 females per thousand male population. During the previous decade, the same was 927; thus showing a marginal improvement of six points. But sex ratio among children of age group 0-6 years has fallen in a number of states; this is perhaps the most disappointing feature of the Census 2001. The percentage of 0-6 population to total population stand at 15.42 per cent compared to 17.94 per cent in 1991.The increase in the population is also reflected in the density of population, which has increased from 267 in 1991 to 324 per sq. km. in 2001. We now have 57 more people per sq. km.

More than decline in population growth rate, it is the spurt in literacy rates that make the present Census stand out from others in post-independence India. More than three-fourths of our male population and a little more than half of the female population are now literate compared to one-third of Indians still do not possess even the basic proficiency in literacy. During 1991-2001, literacy rates improved impressively from 52.01 per cent in 1991 to 65.38 per cent in 2001; thus showing an improvement of more than 13 percentage points. More glaring aspect of improving literacy rates is the significant increase of 14.87 per cent in case of female literacy rate, which is more than the increase in the male literacy rate, which is increased by 11.72 per cent. However, still the differential in male/female literacy rate is of the tune of almost 22 percentage points. This is also reflected in the sex ratio among literate population, which is as low as 667 compared to 933 overall sex ratio. Despite the decline in number of illiterates and improvised literacy rates, India has to go a long way to achieve the goal of universal literacy.

The detailed state-wise analysis is presented below.

Growth in Population: 1991-2001

The total population of the country has increased from 846 million in 1991 to 1027 million in 2001. The increase is more than the total population of Uttar Pradesh (166 million) and Delhi (14 million) in 2001. However, it may be noted that the increase of 181 million during

Table 1: Selected Demographic Indicators: Census of India 2001

States/UT Total Population, 2001 (In thousand) % to Total National Population Decadal Growth Rate, 1991-2001 (%)  Annual Rate of Growth, 1991-2001 ( %) Percentage of Child Population (0-6 Year)




Density of Population (Per Sq. Km.) Sex Ratio, 2001
Overall Child Population Literate Population
A & N Islands 356 0.03 26.94 2.40 12.54 43 846 965 726
Andhra Pradesh 75728 7.37 13.86 1.31 12.77 275 978 964 708
Arunachal 1091 0.11 26.21 2.35 18.33 13 901 961 613
Assam 26638 2.59 18.85 1.74 16.33 340 932 964 721
Bihar 82879 8.07 28.43 2.4 19.59 880 921 938 510
Chandigarh 901 0.09 40.33 3.45 12.13 7,903 773 845 683
Chhatisgarh 20796 2.02 18.06 16.68 154 990 975 668
D & N Haveli 220 0.02 59.20 4.80 17.77 449 811 973 457
Daman & Diu 158 0.02 55.59 4.48 12.66 1,411 709 925 543
Delhi 13783 1.34 46.31 3.88 13.96 9,294 821 865 698
Goa 1344 0.13 14.89 1.40 10.58 363 960 933 819
Gujarat 50597 4.93 22.48 2.05 13.57 258 921 878 674
Haryana 21083 2.05 28.06 2.50 15.46 477 861 820 617
Himachal Pradesh 6077 0.59 17.53 1.63 12.66 109 970 897 778
Jammu & Kashmir 10070 0.98 29.04 2.69 14.21 99 900 937 568
Jharkhand 26909 2.62 23.19 17.82 338 941 966 543
Karnataka 52734 5.13 17.25 1.60 12.94 275 964 949 727
Kerala 31839 3.10 9.42 0.90 11.48 819 1,058 963 999
Lakshadweep 61 0.01 17.19 1.54 14.62 1,894 947 974 825
Madhya Pradesh 60385 5.88 24.34 2.06 17.58 196 920 929 601
Maharashtra 96752 9.42 22.57 2.06 13.63 314 922 917 722
Manipur 2389 0.23 30.02 2.66 13.09 107 978 961 752
Meghalaya 2306 0.22 29.94 2.65 19.84 103 975 975 890
Mizoram 891 0.09 29.18 2.59 15.88 42 938 971 885
Nagaland 1989 0.19 64.41 5.10 14.09 120 909 975 775
Orissa 36707 3.57 15.94 1.49 14.11 236 972 950 655
Pondicherry 974 0.09 20.56 1.88 11.60 2,029 1,001 958 839
Punjab 24289 2.37 19.76 1.82 12.58 482 874 793 744
Rajasthan 56473 5.50 28.33 2.53 18.51 165 922 909 536
Sikkim 540 0.05 32.98 2.90 14.28 76 875 986 687
Tamil Nadu 62111 6.05 11.19 1.07 10.98 478 986 939 778
Tripura 3191 0.31 15.74 1.47 13.38 304 950 975 760
Uttar Pradesh 166053 16.17 25.80 2.29 18.35 689 898 916 547
Uttaranchal 8480 0.83 19.20 15.56 159 964 906 700
West Bengal 80221 7.81 17.84 1.65 13.88 904 934 963 721
INDIA 1027015 100.00 21.34 1.95 15.37 324 933 927 667

Source: Census of India 2001, Series-1, India, Provisional Population Totals, Paper-1 of 2001, Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India, 2001.

1991-2001 is exactly the same as it was during the previous decade 1981-91. The state-specific distribution of population during the period 1991-2001 reveals that all the States & Union Territories have shown an increasing trend in population (Table 1). However, the increase barring a few states is much lower than the increase between the decades 1981-91. Even after bifurcation, Uttar Pradesh continues to be the most populous state of the country with 166 million population, which is 16.17 per cent of the total population of the country. However, the same is not true in case of the density of population, which is low at 689 persons per sq. km. Maharashtra with 9.42 per cent (97 million) population is next to Uttar Pradesh followed by Bihar (8.07 per cent, 83 million), West Bengal (7.81 per cent, 80 million), Andhra Pradesh (7.37 per cent, 76 million), Tamil Nadu (6.05 per cent, 62 million), Madhya Pradesh (5.88 per cent, 60 million), Rajasthan (5.50 per cent, 56 million) etc. The four most educationally deprived states of the country, namely Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh together have more than 365 million population which is 35.54 per cent of the total population of the country. Even Bihar and Uttar Pradesh alone have a little less than 25 per cent (249 million) of the total population.

The four southern states namely, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu registered a growth of only 25.97 million (decadal growth rate, 13.22 per cent), which is equivalent to the total increase in case of Uttar Pradesh alone. On the other hand, Lakshadweep has the lowest population with its share to total population only 0.01 per cent (61 thousand) followed by Daman & Diu (0.02 per cent, 158 thousand), Dadra & Nagar Haveli (0.02 per cent, 220 thousand), Andaman & Nicobar Islands (0.03 per cent, 356 thousand), Sikkim (0.05 per cent, 540 thousand) and Pondicherry (0.09 per cent, 974 thousand). The seven north-eastern states together registered a growth of 2.03 per cent or in absolute terms their population in 2001 stands at 38.50 million among which, Assam with its share 2.59 per cent (26,638 thousand) has the highest population and Mizoram (0.09 per cent, 891 thousand) the least population. Within the three newly created states, Uttaranchal has the least population (0.83 per cent, 8,480 thousand) followed by Chhatisgarh (2.02 per cent, 20,796 thousand) and Jharkhand (2.62 per cent, 26,909 thousand). Due to the disturbed conditions, the Census 1991 couldn’t be conducted in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, which has now been registered a population of 10.07 million that is below one per cent of the total population of the country.

Decadal and Annual Growth Rates

As mentioned above, the decadal rate of growth of population declined to 21.34 per cent from 23.86 per cent during the previous decade 1981-91. Despite the decline, a number of states registered a high decadal growth rate than at the all-India level and a few others have high decadal growth in 1991-2001 than during the previous decade, 1981-91. The state-wise variations in population growth rate reveals an impressive slow down of population in four southern states, especially in Andhra Pradesh which can be compared well with the increase in Bihar and almost stagnant population in Uttar Pradesh. Among the other major states, Bihar (28.43 per cent), Haryana (28.06 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (24.34 per cent), Rajasthan (28.33 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh (25.80 per cent) all registered a higher decadal growth rate than at the all-India level (21.34 per cent). Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh registered higher growth rates despite their bifurcation into new states. The higher growth rates in these states unless decline to a significant level, the goal to stabilize population by 2045 (long term perspective as envisaged in the National Population Policy, 2000) is not likely to be realised. Needless to mention that most of these states are educationally deprived states. A large number of children in these states are still out-of-school; literacy levels low, dropout rates very high and girls’ participation poor all that do not suggest that population in these states will decline in the near future.

The other interesting feature is slow down of population in such states that do not have such history in the past. Some of these states are Assam (24 to 19 per cent), Chattisgarh (26 to 18 per cent), Orissa (20 to 16 per cent) and West Bengal (25 to 18 per cent). The decline particularly in case of the West Bengal is quite encouraging especially when its share to total population is as high as 8 per cent. The fertility and mortality data when available will throw more light on the causes of this dramatic decline in these four states. Out-migration perhaps may not be the only reason of this sudden decline.

On the other hand, the lowest decadal growth rate is noticed in Kerala, which has declined from 14.32 per cent during 1981-91 to 9.42 per cent in 1991-2001. Its share to total all-India population in 2001 is only 3.10 per cent. On the other hand states such as, Assam (18.85 per cent), Goa (14.89 per cent), Himachal Pradesh (17.53 per cent), Karnataka (17.25 per cent), Orissa (15.94 per cent), Punjab (19.76 per cent), Tamil Nadu (11.19 per cent) and West Bengal (17.84 per cent) all have the lower decadal growth rates than at the all-India level. However, in case of a few states the decadal growth rate is higher than the all-India average, which is also higher than the same in the previous decade. Such states are Bihar, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Haryana, Manipur, Nagaland and Sikkim. Except Bihar and Haryana, all other states are small in size and their contribution to total population is insignificant. Bihar and Haryana have 8.07 and 2.5 per cent of the total population.

All most similar trend is observed in case of the average annual growth rate calculated between the period 1991-2001. The halt is almost imperceptible, with the annual growth rate still near to two per cent mark. At the all-India level, as mentioned above the same has declined to 1.95 per cent per annum from 2.10 per cent during the previous decade 1981-91. The male and female population experienced a growth rate of 1.92 and 1.99 per cent respectively. In a number of small States & UTs, the annual rate of growth of population is alarmingly high, higher than two per cent in many cases. The same was as high as 5.10 per cent in case of Nagaland and above four per cent in case of both Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu. The national capital Delhi also experienced a very high rate of growth of 3.88 per cent with total population of 13.8 million. During 1991-2001, Delhi is added by another 4.36 million people. However, the annual rate of growth in case of big states is comparatively low but well above the national average i.e. 1.95 per cent. States such as, Rajasthan (2.53 per cent), Bihar (2.4 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (2.29 per cent), Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra (2.06 per cent) and Gujarat (2.05 per cent) have high rate of growth than the national average. However, Punjab (1.82 per cent), Himachal Pradesh (1.63 per cent), Karnataka (1.60 per cent), Orissa (1.49 per cent), Tamil Nadu (1.47 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (1.31 per cent) all have a much lower annual rate of growth than the all-India average.

Sex Ratio

One of another causes of satisfaction in Census 2001 results is the improvement in the sex ratio during 1991 to 2001, which has marginally improved to 933 females per thousand males from 927 per thousand in 1991, an increase of six points. But complacency over development in sex ratio must be tempered by the fact that there are sharp differences across states. It may be a serious concern for the Sociologists who should study these varying patterns across states. The healthier sex ratio of 1901 (972 per thousand) continues to remain a distant possibility. The small growth in the all-India sex ratio for the first time in a century is best contrasted with a decline in sex ratios in as many as five major states in the last decade. The states are Gujarat (934 to 921), Haryana (865 to 861), Himachal Pradesh (976 to 970), Maharashtra (934 to 922) and Punjab (882 to 874). The other smaller states those who also experienced a slide in the sex ratios are Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Goa and Sikkim. But the major cause of concern, as mentioned above is the falling sex ratio among the child population of age group 0-6 years. It has declined sharply from 945 in 1991 to 927 girls per thousand boys in 2001, a decline of 18 points.

Despite the decline in child sex ratio, a few states, such as, Kerala (958 to 963), Lakshadweep (941 to 974), Sikkim (965 to 986) and Tripura (967 to 975) have shown improvement over their 1991 ratio. All other states have shown decline in child ratio in 2001 compared to the ratio in 1991. The sharp fall in child sex ratio suggests prima facie that the forces, which are against the girl child, are getting stronger even the over all sex ratio is improved a bit in favor of females. The decline in child ratio may be because of the following reasons. First, it may be because of the higher mortality among girls in age group 0-6 year. Over time, gap in boys and girls mortality rate declined but still remained high. The second reason perhaps may be because of the foeticide not only in the Haryana and Himachal Pradesh but also across the country. This may be because of the preference for son and discrimination against the girl child (Reddy, 2001). This is perhaps the bleaker outcome of the Census 2001. Quite similar results have also been reported recently by the NFHS (1998), which reveals that for babies aged up to 11 months, female mortality is at least 10 per cent higher than that of the mortality rate among males. After the age one, sex differentials in mortality is even greater and it is at least 1.5 times higher than that of their male counterparts.

On the other hand, it has also been observed that a few states have even lower child sex ratio than the all-India average of 927. Punjab with 793 has the lowest ratio and Chhatisgarh, Meghalaya and Nagaland with 975 have the highest child sex ratio. On the other hand, in a number of states, the same is even lower than the sex ratio of overall population and in a few states; the difference between the two is wide and significant. Some of these states are Andhra Pradesh (964 against overall ratio of 978), Chhatisgarh (975 against 990), Karnataka (949 against 964), Kerala (963 against 1058), Maharashtra (917 against 922) and Orissa (950 against 972). The gap between the two in Kerala is as high as 95 points (78 points in 1991) is worth noticing here, which is the highest literate state of the country and also it has the lowest infant mortality rate. Kerala’s impressive sex ratio of 1,058 would have to be viewed against it own child sex ratio (963) and also overall ratio in case of Haryana (861), Delhi (821) and Dadra and Nagar Haveli (811). What could be the causes for this? Is it in-migration of male labour from neighboring states, or is it the consequence of the systematic use of sex selection procedure? One has to wait till the Office of the Registrar General of India releases full set of Census data.