Population Composition in India: Literacy and District level Pattern

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  • Literacy is generally defined as a person’s ability to read, write and able to understand as well as to do some simple calculation. Despite this liberal definition, the rate of literacy in India is not very high. According to the Census of India 2001, the average literacy rate in India is 65.38 %. This percentage does not include the population below 7 years of age-group.

  • The rate of literacy varies a great deal from one part of the country to the other. On the one hand, it is the state of Kerala having literacy rate as high as the 90.92 % and on the other extreme is the state of Bihar, where this rate is only 47.53 %. In the union territories, Lakshadweep has the highest rate of literacy where it is 87.52 % and the lowest rate is in Dadra and Nagar Haveli (60.03 %).

  • The rate of literacy varies between males and females also. The average rate of literacy among the males in India is 75.85 % which is higher than the females (54.16 %). Kerala has the distinction of highest literacy among both, males and females (94.20 % and 87.86 % respectively), whereas Bihar has the lowest literacy rate among both males and females (60.32 % and 33.57 % respectively). From the literacy point of view of rural-urban population there is a huge difference between rural and urban area. The literacy rate in urban areas is 73.01 % whereas in rural areas it is as low as 44.54 %. Though the rate of literacy in India is low, it is increasing in each successive census. In 1911 it was less than 6 % and it could rise to only about 16.7 % by1951.

  • The most noteworthy progress in this regard has been made after 1951 Census. In 1961, the literacy rate was about 24 % which rose to 65.38 % by 2001. The most significant development in this regard has been the rate of increase in female literacy. The proportion of literate among the females was only 1.1 % in 1911 which has increased to 54.66 % in 2001. To a great extent, this is a result of the policies of the government, emphasising upon the universalisation of Elementary Education. The extended facilities of schools in the rural areas have helped considerably in raising the literacy rate in the country, especially among the females.

State Wise Distribution of Literacy In India (2001)

Image of State Wise Distribution of Literacy in India (2001)

State Wise Distribution of Literacy In India (2001)

  • Though the literacy rate is increasing percentage wise in successive censuses, the number of illiterates is also increasing in absolute number in each successive census. For the first time in 2001 Census, there is a decline in number of illiterates in comparison to previous census i.e. 1991. However, their number is still very high. To solve this problem, Government has taken up various programmes like National Literacy Mission, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, etc.

District Level Pattern

  • District level pattern analysis of literacy reveals that the literacy rates vary between 96.64 % in Aizwal districts of Mizoram to 30.01 % in Dantewara districts of Chhattisgarh. Out of 591 districts in India, 59 districts have literacy rate of more than 80 %. Majority of these districts are located in southern parts of India. It includes all the 14 districts of Kerala, 4 districts in Tamil Nadu, 3 districts of Pondicherry, 2 districts in Karnataka, and one district each in Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Apart from southern India, north-eastern region has 10 districts. Out of these 10 districts, 7 districts are in Mizoram, 2 districts in Nagaland, and 1 district in Manipur. In western part, there are 11 districts out of which 9 districts are in the state of Maharashtra. In the northern part of India, there are also 11 districts, out of which six districts are in National Capital Territory of Delhi. The remaining 3 districts are in Himachal Pradesh and one each in Chandigarh and Uttarakhand. Eastern India has only two districts, one each in West Bengal and Orissa. The central part of India has not got a single district in this category.

  • On the contrary there are 26 districts in the country where literacy rate is below 40%. These districts are scattered in seven states. Of these 26 districts, 11 are in Bihar, 5 in Uttar Pradesh, 4 in Orissa, 3 in Jharkhand and one each in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

In brief, it can be said that

  • The development of a country depends upon both quality and quantity of the human resources. The quality of human resource depends upon the population composition. They are rural-urban, sex-age, linguistic, religious, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and literate- non-literate composition. India is proverbially known as the country of villages. Till today more than 72 % of people live in rural areas. The rate of urbanisation is however increasing. The growth rate of urban population is higher than the average growth rate in the country. This is mainly due to migration of people from rural to urban areas. There are 35 metropolitan cities in India having population more than 10,00,000.

  • On the other hand, sex ratio in India is unfavourable. The highest number of females per one thousand males is found in Kerala (1058) whereas it is lowest in Haryana (861). If we take union territories into account, then the lowest sex ratio in the country is in Daman and Diu (709). The sex ratio has been gradually decreasing in each successive census except some marginal increase in the 1951, 1981, and 2001 census.

  • The rate of literacy in India is not very high (65.38%). It is the highest in Kerala where the literacy rate is as high as 90.92% and on the other extreme is the state of Bihar where literacy is as low as 47.53%.

  • India is a land of great social diversity. It is the home of people belonging to different racial stocks, languages and religions. The tribal people are the nearest relations of some of the original racial stocks. The Schedule Castes are intermixture of various racial stocks. According to 2001 Census, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes constitute 16.00% and 8.20% respectively of the total population. The concentration of these population is found in the plain areas due to their profession. Whereas Scheduled Tribes generally live in isolated forested and hilly tracts. They are pre-industrial stage of development and believe in super-natural powers. India is a unique country in terms of language and religion. Here all the major religions of the world are found. There are 18 major languages and hundreds of dialects are spoken in the country.

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