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Decoding India’s demographic profile

Updated: December 28, 2018 12:13 pm

India is the second largest populous country in the world. Sixth in terms of area, the country houses 121 crore population, as per the latest Census conducted in 2011. With varying geographical topography, diversified socio-cultural phenomena, multi-lingual, multi-religious social fabric, it portrays a classic example of unity in diversity. The population policy adopted in 1971 was one among the many important policies formulated and implemented aiming at the welfare of the people in the post-Independence era. It is believed that the country is now moving through the third phase of population transition, i.e.”Late Expanding”, which is characterised by the high but declining birth rate and low death rate. As a result of this, a huge net addition of population has been noticed within the past decades. However, during the last Census decade, i.e. 2001-11, it is seen that the net addition in total population is almost the same as that of 1991-2001. This indicates, the quantum of addition is approaching t a stationary state although the growth rate of population is high enough and far from satisfactory.

Against this backdrop, the book covers the dynamic processes of fertility, mortality and migration and describes demographic transition in India and in major states. Starting with a brief description of India’s population profile, the book describes the vital registration system in India, its weaknesses. and limitations and presents the schemes of Sample Registration System and National Family Health Survey. The book then gives levels and trends of fertility and mortality in India and in certain selected countries. Migration pattern in India compares data from 1961 onwards and discusses differentials in age structure, educational attainment of migrants and non-migrants and differentials in their economic

activity. The book finally describes

demographic transition in India and infers that India has entered into third stage of demographic transition. The chapter shows that while Kerala and Tamil Nadu are well past in the third stage of demographic transition, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh will take another half a century or so to be able to move into third stage of demographic transition.

The data used in this book are basically drawn from public domain open access data from Census 1951 to 2011, as per availability and the sample surveys like Sample Registration System. It contains ten chapters covering size, growth and sex ratio, age structure, literacy and education, work participation, marital status, disability, fertility, mortality, religious affiliations and migration. The book underlines, for the first time, in Census 2011, the proportion working-age population has exceeded 60 per cent mark. Undoubtedly, this is the proof of the demographic window of opportunity thinkers were talking about. With a huge and increasing proportion of population in the economically active age group, the economy of the country has a lot of things to promise.

It highlights that it is well known that the states in India are at different stages of demographic transition. While Kerala depicts the demographic profile of a developed country, states like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Odisha show a gloomy picture in this regard. With many adverse demographic indicators, these groups of states are often called “lagging behind” states. Some even call them “bimaru” states. The book is a useful read for students and policy-makers.

By Ashok Kumar

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