Population, India: 1909

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General characteristics of Indian as compared and western

THERE is probably no subject connected with India regarding General which it is less easy to make statements of general application ^Jf 1 ^^ than that 9f its people. The area is great ; the physical features Indian as and climate are highly diversified; and the population is derived compared from many different sources. The Dravidians of the south are western the earliest inhabitants of whom we have any knowledge. From people*, the north-west countless hordes of many different stocks, includ- ing in historic times Greeks, Scythians, Huns, Afghans, Mughals, and Persians, have, from time immemorial, found their way into India, driven thither by the pressure of other hordes behind them, or attracted by the prospect of plunder. Along the northern border the Himalayas oppose an impassable obstacle to the passage of large bodies of men, and the number of immigrants from this direction was never very large ; but on the north-east the difficulties of transit to a great extent disappear, and there has been an extensive influx of various Mongoloid races. The inhabitants of Assam and Burma belong in the main to this stock, and the same element enters very largely into the physical type of the Bengalis.

To these racial differences must be added variations due to environment, which have been developed in the people during the course of the many centuries that have elapsed since their first settlement in India 1 . In the north-west the dry climate, and the incessant struggles with man and nature in which only the fittest could survive, have combined to produce a brave and hardy race of good physique ; while the easy life in the steamy and fertile rice plains of the Gangetic delta, though encouraging a rapid increase in the number of its inhabitants, has sapped their energies and stunted their growth. The small, weak, and timid Hindu peasant of Bengal differs from the tall, sturdy, and brave Sikh, or the turbulent and active Pathan, to a greater degree

1 The Ahoms are known to have greatly degenerated, both physically and morally, in the course of the seven centuries during which they have been settled in Assam, and this period is a very short one compared with that for which the bulk of the people of India have been domiciled there. than does the Scandinavian from the Spaniard or the English- man from the Turk, The contrast is not less marked between the Gurkha and the Madras!, between the Bhotia of the Dar- jeeling hills and the Munda or Oraon of Chota Nagpur, or between the Angami Naga and the Maratha.

The variations in type are often personal as well as local ; and in some Provinces the higher castes may be regarded as being (with more or less intermixture of blood) the modern representatives of the Aryan and other dominant tribes who came to India in comparatively recent times, while the lower castes are composed in the main of the earlier inhabitants whom they subjugated 1 . The Indian Muhammadans are mostly the descendants of local converts ; but they have received a certain infusion of foreign blood which, in Bengal at least, is often indicated by their sturdier frames, more prominent noses, and greater energy, as compared with their Hindu neighbours and congeners.

With these marked differences in physical type, there are equally noticeable divergences of social practices, dietary, and manner of living. At the same time, the people of India as a whole can be distinguished from those of Europe by certain broad characteristics. The native of India is, with a few marked exceptions, of slighter build and weaker frame than the European ; his diet is, often from choice and often from necessity, wholly or mainly vegetarian ; he is deficient in energy and in capacity for sustained hard labour; his earnings are much smaller, but his wants are simpler and more easily met food grains are cheap, rents low, houses inexpensive, and clothing is often a matter of decency rather than of necessity. With the Hindus marriage is an obligatory religious sacrament, and is practically universal : on the other hand widows are often prevented from taking a second husband, and as girls are generally married at a very early age, this restriction renders unproductive a considerable section of the female population of child-bearing age. With the Musulmans, Animists, and

1 The Aryans have fine, and the Dravidians broad noses, and the influence of race upon caste has been epigrammalically stated by Mr. Risley in the dictum that a man's social status varies inversely with the width of his nose. This apophthegm emphasizes a point of difference which, though more easily gauged than others, is by no mean* the only one. There are, for instance, remarkable variations in stature; and while in many Sikh regiments the average height exceeds 5 feet 8 inches, in regiments recruited from Nepal it is only 5 feet 3 inches. The higher castes have usually a fairer skin, a higher forehead, less prominent lips and cheek-bones, and a more graceful figure than those at the bottom of the social scale.

Buddhists there is no religious sanction enjoining wedlock, but the practice is almost equally common ; the age at marriage is, however, higher than in the case of Hindus, and there is no bar on widow marriage, though it is often viewed with disfavour. This universality of marriage tends to produce a rapid increase of population, and although this may sometimes be hindered by preventive checks, such practices are believed to be rare. There are, however, well-marked positive checks ; for the sanitary conditions prevailing in India are by no means favourable to lon- gevity. The water-supply is often polluted, and in many rural areas no effort is made to remove filth and refuse from the neigh- bourhood o/ the houses in which the people live. They are thus exposed to diseases of all kinds, especially to epidemics of cholera, small-pox, and plague ; malarial affections and bowel complaints are also in parts very prevalent. In the case of infants these adverse conditions are aggravated by unskilful midwifery, exposure, and improper food. The normal rate of mortality is thus very high, especially among young children. In years of drought it rises still higher, not so much on account of direct deaths from starvation, as through dysentery and diarrhoea due to the eating of improper food, general debility, and the epidemics of cholera so frequent in famine years.

Area and population of india

According to the revised areas adopted in the Census of 1901, the Indian Empire contains 1,766,597 square miles of country, and is therefore greater by 12,000 square miles than the whole of Europe, excluding Russia. The Provinces under British administration comprise 1,087,204 square miles, or 61-5 per cent, of the whole ; and the aggregate area of the Native States is 679,393 square miles, or 38*5 per cent. The population of the Empire as recorded on the night of March i, 1901, was 294,361,056 persons, or about one-fifth of that of the whole world, of whom 231,899,507 were enumerated in British territory, and 62,461,549 in the Native States 1 . The latter,

1 Afghanistan and Nepal, in whose internal administration the Govern- ment of India does not interfere and which were outside the scope of the Census operations, are not included in these figures. The area and population of Afghanistan are roughly estimated at 246,000 square miles and four and a half million persons ; of Nepal at 54,000 square miles and four million persons. Apart from this, the total area and population of Native States are really somewhat larger than stated in the text, for the Census statistics included the minor Native States of Burma and Assam in the British totals, and the Census operations did not extend to Bhutan. On the other hand, the figures for the Baluchistan States have since been reduced by a transfer of territory to British administration. The real totals for Native States would now be, approximately area, 765,000 square miles; population, sixty-four millions.

therefore, while containing more than one-third of the total area, support considerably less than a quarter of the population. In India as a whole the average density is 167 persons to the square mile, viz. 213 per square mile in British territory and 92 in the Native States. There are, however, great local variations; and while the fertile and well-watered alluvial tract forming the Gangetic plain supports upwards of 400 inhabitants per square mile, the great desert in the west of Rajputana has barely five.

The following diagram brings out the relative area and population of the various Provinces and the chief Native States.

Percentage of area or population of India as a whole. British Territory .Each white diamond therein represents 4 per cent of the total area of India, and each black diamond 4 per cent, of the total population.

If we take smaller areas as the basis of comparison, the differences become even more striking. A classification by Districts shows that a fifth of the total population of the country is congregated on less than a twentieth of the super- ficies, where there are more than 600 persons to the square mile ; a quarter more on a twelfth of the country, where the density is from 409 to 600 per square mile ; and nearly a fifth on an eighth of the area, at a density of 200 to 400 per square mile. Taking the^e figures together, we find that nearly two-thirds of the total population of India occupy only a quarter of the whole area, while the remaining three-quarters of the area is still very sparsely inhabited and nowhere contains as many as 200 persons to the square mile.

The greatest density of population is found in the great Gangetic plain, and the next greatest in the narrow fringes of alluvium which lie between the sea and the elevated interior of the Peninsula- As a general rule, it may be said that high or low density is concomitant with large or deficient rainfall ; but there are, of course, other factors to be reckoned with. In the western portion of the Gangetic plain the rainfall is not large ; but the want is supplied by artificial irrigation from a network of canals, and the land thus supports many more inhabitants than it could otherwise find food for. Much also depends on the character and configuration of the surface, as in the uplands of Chota Nagpur, where there are extensive areas quite unfit for cultivation, and the population is thus very sparse in spite of a fairly copious rainfall. The influence of climate is also well marked, and the malarious tarai which stretches along the foot of the Himalayas possesses far fewer inhabitants than might be expected from its rainfall. Lastly, there are variations due to historical causes, as in Burma, which has but recently enjoyed a settled and civilized govern- ment, and which, though half as large again as Bengal and favoured by a good and regular supply of rain, possesses less than one-seventh the population of that Province.


The Province of Assam, in the north-eastern corner of the Population Empire, has 6,126,343 inhabitants, or an average of 109 to the ? nd densny square mile. The density varies from 353 per square mile in O us Pro- the open alluvial plains of the Surma valley to 108 in the v * n ces, &c. valley of the Brahmaputra which, though in parts very fertile, s * am * contains large areas that are unhealthy or unfit.for cultivation, and suffered until early in the nineteenth century from pillage and rapine and only twenty-seven in the hills of the Assam Range and Lushai, where much of the land is uncultivable and the memory of head-hunting and predatory expeditions is in some parts still fresh.


The great Province of Bengal *, with more than seventy-eight

million inhabitants (including 3-7 millions in the Native States attached to it), has, on an average, 413 persons to the square mile. Among its natural divisions the highest density (636 per square mile) is found in the alluvial plains of North Bihar, and the lowest (152) among the hills and ravines of the Chota Nagpur plateau. Between these extremes the otter divisions follow an order dependent in the main on their relative fertility. Central Bengal has 608 persons to the square mile ; West Bengal, which contains the populous Districts of Hooghly and Howrah, 591 ; East Bengal, 514; South Bihar, 511 ; the coast strip of Orissa, 508 ; while North Bengal, which is traversed by the sparsely populated semi-laterite formation known as the Barind, drops to 483, the lowest density in the plains of the delta. The most thickly peopled District is Howrah, where the attraction of lucrative employment in the jute mills has raised the mean density of the entire area to 1,668 persons per square mile, and that in rural areas, excluding the city of Howrah and the municipality of Bally, to 1,351. Jute cultivation does for Dacca what jute manufacture does for Howrah : a soil enriched by perennial silt and watered by an unfailing rainfall here supports 952 persons per square mile. In North Bihar, the country of the petty proprietor, who clings to the soil at the cost of endless subdivision of property, Muzaffarpur has a density of 917 per square mile, and Saran of 907. The scantiest population is found on the outskirts of the Province, where the density falls in some parts to twenty- three to the square mile.


The Bombay Presidency, with a population of 25,468,209, of whom more than a quarter are in the Native States, has an average of 135 persons to the square mile. Except along the Indus and the canals fed from it, the whole of Sind is a desert, and the density is only half the general mean. South of Sind, the fertile and well-cultivated plains of Gujarat support a population of 267 to the square mile. Below the wall of the

1 In 1905, an extensive scheme of redistribution was effected, by which Eastern Bengal, with Assam, became a new Lieutenant-Governorship, while transfers of territory were also made between Bengal and the Cential Provinces. See Table IV A (p. 491). Western Ghats, which run in a continuous chain from Gujarat to South Kanara, the rice-bearing areas on the coast, sure of a regular rainfall on the first contact with the south-west monsoon, have a density of 221 to the square mile. The Deccan table- land, cut off by the hills from the main onset of the monsoon, has a scanty and uncertain rainfall, and the density falls to 159. In the extreme south, above the Ghat line, the Bombay Carnatic, more fortunate than the arid plains of the Deccan, enjoys fair immunity from risk of crop failure and finds support for 190 persons per square mile.


With an area of 236,738 square miles, the population of Burma. Burma is barely ten and a half millions. The mean density is only forty-four persons per square mile, but it rises to fifty-five if the sparsely inhabited Shan States and Chin Hills be left out of account. The sub-deltaic tract of Lower Burma lying round Prome has ninety persons to the square mile. The dry zone of Upper Burma, with its centre about Mandalay, comes next with seventy-nine. Then follows the coast strip, from the borders of Chittagong to the Malay Peninsula, with fifty-five ; and last of all comes the wet tract of Upper Burma, which contains only fifteen persons to the square mile.

Central provinces

The population of the Central Provinces, including Berar l Central and the dependent Native States, is 14,627,045, and the Province3 - mean density is 109 persons per square mile 161 in the Nagpur country, 155 in Berar, 145 in the Narbada valley, 114 in the Vindhya plateau, and 78 in the Districts adjoining the Satpura range.


The Madras Presidency has forty-two and one-third million Madras, inhabitants (of which somewhat more than four millions belong to its Native States), or 270 persons to the square mile. The density is greatest on the west coast (368 per square mile), and least in the Agency tracts the forest-clad ranges which form the background of the three northern Districts where it is only sixty-nine. In the Deccan it is twice as great as in the Agency tracts. On the east coast, the Telugu country, which includes the deltas of the Godavari and Kistna rivers, has 303 persons to the square mile; and the Tamil country to the south of it, with the fertile delta of the Cauvery river and the area commanded by the Periyar irrigation scheme, 358. In the Tanjore District, in this tract, the density rises to 605 per

1 The Province of Berar (area 17,710 square miles; population 2,897,491) appertains to the Nizam of Hyderabad, but has been administered since 1853 by thetBritish Government, to which it has now been granted on perpetual lease. It was attached to the Central Provinces in October, 1903. square mile, while in one of the taluks in the Cochin State, on the west coast, it reaches the phenomenal figure of 1,920, or 133 more than in the Snnagar thdna of the Dacca District, the most thickly peopled rural area in Bengal.

Punjab and north west frontier province

Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province taken the North- together, but excluding Malakand, Dlr, Swat, and Chitral, and Frontier ^ e Baloch trans-frontier area in the Shirani country, the Province, population is a little less than twenty-seven millions, and the average number of persons to the square mile is 180. British territory in the Punjab has a density of 209 per square mile ; the Frontier Province, 141 ; and the Punjab States, 121. Of the natural divisions, the ndo-Gangetic Plain, west, has 316 persons to the square mile ; the Sub-Himalayan tract, 300 ; the north-west dry area, 97 ; and the Himalayan area, only 77. In British territory the density ranges from 641 in Jullundur District to forty-two in the Kurram valley. The Chenab Colony, a desert recently transformed by irrigation into a garden, has already 214 persons to the square mile, a denser population than twelve out of the twenty-eight Districts in the Punjab as now constituted.

United provinces

United The population of the United Provinces is about forty-eight

Provinces. an( j a j^jf m juj ons (g O o,ooo in Native States), and the average number of persons to the square mile is 432, viz. 445 in British territory, and 158 in the two Native States. The Himalayan west region, i.e. the mountainous tract in the north, has only eighty-seven people to the square mile. In the south, British Bundelkhand and Mirzapur District have 202 and 207 respectively. The other natural divisions exhibit a con- tinuous increase in density from west to east. The western Sub-Himalayan Districts support 441 persons to the square mile, and the eastern 566 ; in the Gangetic plain 546 are found in the western portion, 577 in the central, and 751 in the eastern. Excluding cities, there are twelve Districts with less than 400 persons per square mile, fourteen with between 400 and 500, and twenty-two with a higher density. The most populous District is Ballia, in the extreme east, which supports 791 persons on each square mile of area.

Native states

Native The statistics for the Native States other than those already

atei. referred to along with the Provinces may be more briefly dealt with. Baroda, with barely two million inhabitants, has 228 persons per square mile ; the Central India Agency, with 8| millions, has 109 ; and the RajputSna Agency, with 9! millions, has 76. The mean density in the latter case is greatly reduced by the almost waterless desert in the west and the broken and forest-clad country in the south : in the eastern States it rises to 165 persons per square mile, which is nearly as great as that of the most populous part of the Central India Agency. The Kashmir State is one of the most sparsely peopled tracts in India, and with 81,000 square miles of area has less than 3 million inhabitants, or 36 per square mile. The population of Hyderabad exceeds 1 1 millions, and there are 135 inhabitants to the square mile : the density is greatest in the eastern and southern tracts. Mysore has 5^ million inhabitants and a mean density of 188 to the square mile : in the open level country to the east the density is 200, and in the hilly country sloping down from the Western Ghats only 1 24.

Towns and villages

For Census purposes the term 'town' was held to include all Towns and municipalities and cantonments, and any other continuous villa g es collections of houses, permanently inhabited by not less than 5,000 persons, which seemed to possess a distinctly urban character. One-tenth of the people of India were enumerated in places answering to this description : of these more than half were found in places with at least 20,000 inhabitants, about one-fifth in towns of from 10 to 20 thousand, and the rest in smaller towns. The tendency towards urban aggrega- tion is most marked in Bombay, Berar, and Rajputana, the homes of the Marwarls, Parsls, and other enterprising trading communities ; and least so in Bengal, and in various remote tracts on the borders of the Empire where there is but little trade and the means of communication are inferior. The smallness of the urban population in Bengal may be ascribed partly to the character of its people, who have no great genius for trade ; partly to its past history, which has not been such as to encourage the growth of towns save at the old seats of government ; and partly to the absence of any considerable seaport except Calcutta. In Bengal proper, and in the Punjab, where the Muhammadans are most numerous and are drawn mainly from local sources, they appear to take less readily to a town life than the Hindus; but elsewhere the reverse is the case, and in the United and Central Provinces, in Madras, and in many of the adjoining States the proportion of Muhammadans in towns is double that of Muhammadans in the population at large.

According to the Census returns there are 728,605 villages in India, with an average population of 364, but these figures refer to units of a very heterogeneous character. In some places the village was taken to be the area demarcated in the course of a survey, corresponding more o%less to the English parish or the Teutonic mark, while elsewhere it was a collection of houses bearing a separate name, i.e. a residential village. The character of the latter also varies greatly. Sometimes, as in the Deccan, the people reside in walled and fortified villages, a reminiscence of the troublous period which preceded British rule, and which, in Baluchistan 1 and the Frontier Province, led also to the erection of towers of refuge to which the villagers might betake themselves in time of danger. Elsewhere, as in Bihar, the fortifications disappear, but the houses are still closely packed together with no intervening spaces for orchards or gardens. Elsewhere again, as in the greater part of Madras and Bengal proper, the houses, while still collected on a com- mon site, are well separated and each stands in its own ground. Sometimes, as in Upper Assam and on the west coast of the Madras Presidency, there is no regular village site at all, and each cultivator makes his dwelling-place where it suits him best, either in the centre of his fields or on some adjacent patch of high ground, such as the bank of a stream. In the joint delta of the Ganges and Brahmaputra, where the country is heavily inundated during the rainy season, the houses are congregated within very narrow limits, on mounds laboriously thrown up during the winter months when the water tem- porarily disappears.

Recent growth of towns

Recent The list of places treated as towns in 1901 differs from that growth of o f the previous enumeration ; and the Census figures, which disclose an apparent increase of 7*3 per cent, in the urban compared with an increase of only 2-4 per cent, in the total population, cannot therefore be wholly relied on. But there is no doubt that towns are growing in both number and popula- tion, owing to the expansion of large industries, such as cotton and jute mills and railway workshops, and the development of new trading centres, which has been stimulated by the great improvement in communications effected in recent years. There are still, however, in the whole of India only twenty-nine cities with a population (including military cantonments adjoin- ing) of not less than 100,000 inhabitants, compared with thirty- nine in England ; and their aggregate population is not much more than one-fiftieth of that of the whok country, whereas in England it is one-seventh. Some of the Indian cities, such as Mandalay and Patna, which grew up under an entirely different set of political and commercial conditions, are declining, while others of later origin, or which have benefited by recent

1 That is to say, where the people live in settled villages. The great majority of the inhabitaAr on this wild frontier are nomadic. industrial and commercial developments, are growing rapidly. Of the newer cities, the most extraordinary progress is shown by Rangoon, the population of which has increased in thirty years from less than 100,000 to nearly a quarter of a million. The growth of Karachi is only less notable than that of Rangoon ; while among inland towns that have prospered through manufactures, Cawnpore and Ahmadabad may be mentioned. It is impossible within the narrow limits of the present chapter to discuss this subject at all fully, but we may consider briefly the statistics for the three great Presidency cities. The population of each of the other principal towns, and its increase or decrease since 1891, will be found in


Calcutta was founded by Job Charnock, who, about 1686, Calcutta, occupied on behalf of the East India Company the three villages which then existed on its site. The population of the settlement in 1710 was only 10,000 or 12,000; but it grew rapidly, and by the middle of the eighteenth century it was estimated to be about 200,000 ; it was probably about 400,000 in 1850, and in 1872 the first actual enumeration showed it to be 633, 009 l . In 1901 it had risen to 847,796, exclusive of 101,348 persons in areas which are structurally an integral part of Calcutta though outside the jurisdiction of the Calcutta municipality, and also of 157,594 in Howrah, which lies along the opposite bank of the Hooghly and is as much a part of Calcutta as Southwark is of London, With these additions, the capital of India contains a population of 1,106,738, and takes a place among the twelve largest cities of the world. The average number of inhabitants per acre is forty-one, but it rises to sixty-eight if we exclude the cantonment of Fort William and the extensive maiddn adjoining : in the three most crowded wards it ranges from 201 to 281. Barely one-third of the residents of Calcutta claim it as their birthplace ; the others are immigrants, of whom the vast majority are divided in almost equal proportions between natives of adjacent Districts and Cuttack on the one hand, and of Bihar and the United Pro- vinces on the other. The males outnumber the females in the ratio of two to one.


The population of Bombay was about 10,000 in 1661, when Bombay, its possession passed from Portugal to England by the marriage treaty between Charles II and Catherine of Braganza; fourteen years later it had risen to about 60,000; and in 1836 it was

1 This is the population, at that time, of the whole area now included within municipal limits.


Houses and house room .estimated to be 236,000. In 1872 it was 644,405, and in 1891, 821,764; but in 1901 it had fallen, owing to the ravages of plague, to 776,006, The greater part of this decrease of 6 per cent, is, however, believed to have been due, not to a permanent reduction of the population, but to the temporary departure of many of the regular inhabitants owing to fear of the plague which was raging at the time of the Census 1 . The average number of inhabitants per acre is fifty-one, but in the most con- gested tracts* in the heart of the city it rises to nearly 600. Three-quarters of the inhabitants are immigrants, of whom a quarter come from the neighbouring District of Ratnagiri and about the same number from Poona and Satara taken together : as compared with Calcutta the number who come from distant parts is small. Only 38 per cent, of the population are females.

Madras, with 509,346 inhabitants in 1901 against 397,552 in 1871, ranks next to Calcutta and Bombay, but is of much smaller industrial and commercial importance. There are, on an average, twenty-nine persons per acre ; males and females are almost equal in number; and one-third of the people are immigrants, mainly from other parts of the Presidency.

The houses found in India differ greatly from those of England. In England a single building contains at least one family and sometimes several ; but in India it more often hap- pens that the same family occupies several buildings and, so far as the manner of occupation is concerned, the enclosure within which the buildings are arranged corresponds to the English 'house' more closely than do the buildings themselves. In some parts of India, therefore, the term * house * was defined for census purposes as the enclosure, without reference to the question whether the buildings within were occupied by one family or by several ; but in Bengal, the United Provinces, Burma, and Assam the social aspect was held to be of primary importance, and a ' house ' was defined as ' the residence of a commensal family/ It might be anticipated that the variations in the definition would greatly affect the average number of persons per house. This, however, is not the case : the number is high in the Punjab and Kashmir (6 per house and upwards, compared with a general mean of 5*2), but elsewhere it is generally very uniform; and the figures for Bombay and Madras, where the 'enclosure' criterion was adopted, differ scarcely at all from those for Bengal and Burma, where the

1 A special enumeration, taken on the night of February 9, 1906, returned the population of Bombay city at 982,000.

'family* was the standard. The inference is that, except in Northern India, the enclosure is generally the residence of a single commensal family.

Growth of population

We have hitherto been dealing with the state of things dis- Growth of closed by the Census of March, 1901. Let us now consider the statistics with reference to the changes which have taken place since the first systematic attempt to ascertain the popu- lation of the Indian Empire, which was carried out between the years 1867 and 1872. This pioneer enumeration was ad- mittedly very rough and imperfect, and many of the Native States were left out of the count. The first synchronous Census on the modern system 1 was taken in February, 1881: the operations extended to the whole of India, as the term was then understood, except Kashmir and various small remote tracts, and a much higher standard of accuracy was arrived at. February, 1891, witnessed the third decennial Census, which included within its scope Upper Burma and several other newly acquired tracts and, in point of accuracy, left nothing to be desired, save perhaps in a few of the wilder and more inacces- sible tracts. The population disclosed by each enumeration is shown below ; but it must be remembered that these figures make no allowance for the inclusion of new areas within the scope of the operations, or for the artificial changes due to better arrangements :

It is estimated in the Census Report for 1901 that between the years 1872 and 1881 there was probably no real growth of population, and that in any case it did not exceed 1-5 per cent.;

1 Under this system the whole country is divided into blocks containing about forty-five houses, each of which is in charge of an enumerator who enters beforehand in his schedules full details for each person ordinarily resident in his block. Except in the more remote areas, where the final revision is effected in the daytime or, in exceptional cases, is dispensed with altogether, this preliminary record is corrected on the night of the Census with reference to the persons then actually present, absentees being struck out and new-comers entered in the schedules. The work is checked at all stages by a regular chain of supervising officers. Further details will be found in the Introduction to the India Census Report for 1901. for the next decade the true increment is placed at 9-8 per cent; and for that preceding the Census of 1901 at 1-5 per cent., this last figure being the resultant of an increase of 3-9 per cent, in British territory and a decrease of 6-6 per cent, in the Native States. The first of the above periods included the disastrous years 1876-8, when famine conditions prevailed over a great part of the Peninsula, reaching a climax in Mysore, which is estimated to have lost a quarter of its population, while there were several less severe famines, such as that in Bihar in 1874. The next decade (1881-91) witnessed a succession of exceptionally good seasons, and the population grew rapidly, as it always does after a set-back resulting from a catastrophe like famine, which causes a high mortality among the very old and very young, and among persons suffering from infirmities or otherwise of enfeebled physique, while healthy persons in the prime of life sustain a comparatively small diminu- tion in their numbers. The birth-rate is thus not permanently affected, while the mortality for the next few years is excep- tionally low, owing to the disappearance during the famine of a very large proportion of those who would otherwise have succumbed at a somewhat later date.

Condition affecting growth of population 1891-1901

Conditions It is a matter of common observation that good seasons and ^rowth^f bad g * n c y cles > and the succession of prosperous years between popula- 1 88 1 and 1891 was followed by a series of lean ones in the ensuing decade. In 1891-2 there was scarcity over a con- siderable area in Madras and Bombay, and in parts of Bihar. In 1895 a weak monsoon led to extensive crop-failure in the southern Districts of the United Provinces; and a sudden cessation of the rains of 1896 resulted in famine over an area of about 307,000 square miles with a population of nearly 70,000,000 : on the average 2,000,000 persons were relieved daily during the twelve months from October, 1 896, to September, 1897, and the number rose to more than 4,000,000 at the time of greatest distress. In 1899 the monsoon again failed, and the results were even more disastrous, for though the population affected was slightly less than in 1896-7, famine conditions prevailed over an area half as great again and with less easy means of communication ; the drought was much more severe ; the people had not yet recovered from the previous visitation ; the mortality among cattle from want of fodder and water was far heavier ; and the most seriously affected tracts lay for the greater part in Native States, where the relief organization was less perfect than in British territory. In the height of this famine there were for weeks together more than 6,000,000 persons in receipt of relief. On a comparison of the Census figures of 1901 with those of 1891, it is estimated that during these two famine periods the death-roll exceeded the normal mortality of non-famine years by about 5,000,000, of which the greater portion occurred in the Native States. But only a small proportion of this abnormal mortality was due to actual starvation. Most of it was caused by fever, cholera, and other epidemics, which are always unusually prevalent and fatal in times of drought and scarcity. Their prevalence at these seasons is due to the pollution of the scanty water-supply, and to the collection of large bodies of people on relief-works, and also to insufficiency of proper food, which, though not resulting in starvation, is serious enough to reduce the resisting power of the population to attacks of disease. The diminished vitality of the people led also to a heavy fall in the birth-rate, but this was to some extent counterbalanced by an unusually high rate of reproduction when the people had recovered their normal condition.

Another adverse circumstance of this decade was the plague epidemic which, commencing in Bombay city in Septem- ber, 1896, had caused a mortality of at least three-quarters of a million by the date of the last Census. That a period which witnessed two of the greatest famines of the century, and the appearance of a new and deadly disease, should have shown any growth of population is due paitly to the efficiency of the famine relief operations, and partly to the remarkable com- mercial and industrial progress which is now taking place the construction of railways, the extension of irrigation, the spread of tea and jute cultivation, the development of the coal-mines of Bengal and the gold-fields of Mysore, the opening of jute and cotton mills, and other similar undertakings, which have added to the general prosperity of the country and created many new forms of employment for the great class of landless labourers. As already mentioned, the famine administration was far more efficient in British territory than in the Native States, and it is mainly in British territory that the great industrial development described above has taken place.

1991-2001: Decline in sex ratio

The Times of India, Jul 11 2015

Sex ratio at birth. India and the world

Sushmi Dey

`Declining sex-ratio trend now affects more states'

Though India has made significant progress in controlling the growth of population, concerns are rapidly growing when it comes to male-female ratio and reproductive rights of women. India's population growth rate has declined significantly from 21.54% in 1991-2000 to 17.64% in 2001-11 and with 2.3% fertility rate, India is now just 0.2 points away from reaching the replacement level, as per the sample registration system, office of registrar general, India, 2011-13.

Nearly 60% of the population resides in states where either replacement fertility is already reached or will soon meet the target. These include the southern states, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Punjab.

However, 11% more male children are born every year as compared to females, as against a benchmark of 5%, shows UN data. Experts say the trend, which was earlier limited to some states, is expanding to others. Ahead of World Population Day on July 11, civil society and public health groups have demanded inclusion of family planning as a specific objective in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Capacity of india to support a greater population

With this steady growth of population in a country which Capacity already contains one-fifth of the world's inhabitants, the of Imlla to question arises whether the time is not approaching when it greater will have more inhabitants than it can support; but an exam- popula- ination of the facts shows no cause for alarm at present. Apart from the non-agricultural forms of employment which, as we have seen, are rapidly growing in importance, it seems certain that, even in the most crowded tracts, more scientific farming would greatly increase the present produce of the soil. There are, besides, many parts, e.g. Burma, where, even under present conditions, ample scope remains for expansion ; and many others, such as Western Rajputana, where, with the aid of irriga- tion, crops might be grown on what is now a sandy desert. Overcrowding, moreover, is a purely relative term, and the densely inhabited Districts of Eastern Bengal form one of the most progressive and prosperous tracts in the Empire. In India, as a whole, the greatest growth of population since 1891 has occurred in Districts which in that year had already a density of from 500 to 600 persons per square mile v Details for In Assam about half the increase of 12 per cent, during the Provinces ten years P recedin g lhe Census of 1 90 1 1 is accounted for by Assam. the inclusion of Manipur and South Lushai, which were not dealt with at the previous enumeration. A great part of the remainder is due to the immigration of coolies to the tea gardens, and the foreign-born population has risen from one- half to three-quarters of a million. The most rapid progress is shown by the two great tea Districts of Upper Assam, Lakhim- pur and Sibsagar, which have added 46 and 24 per cent, to their population since 1891 : the former now contains three times the number of inhabitants recorded in 1872. Lower down the Brahmaputra valley the obscure fever epidemic known as kald azdr has caused an appalling mortality Nowgong District has lost 25 per cent, of the population recorded in 1891, and Kamrup 7 per cent.; but there are signs that the force of the epidemic is slackening, and when it disappears a rapid recovery may be anticipated. The immigrants imported for the tea gardens show a growing tendency to settle down permanently as cultivators on the expiration of their garden contracts.


The great Province of Bengal has a recorded increase during the decade 1891-1901 of nearly 4,000,000, or 5-1 per cent. Among the natural divisions of the Province, East Bengal comes first with an increase of 10-4 per cent. ; Chota Nagpur has 7-8 ; West Bengal and Orissa, 7 ; North Bengal, 5-9 ; and Central Bengal, 5-1 per cent. In North Bihar the population is virtually stationary, and in South Bihar it has declined 36 per cent. East Bengal enjoys a copious and regular rain-

1 Kordetails of increase or decrease by Provinces, &c., see Table III (p. 490). In the present sections the figures for each British Province include those of its dependent Native States, arid Baluchistan is not dealt with, as it was enumerated for the first time in 1901. fall ; the fertility of the soil is renewed every year by fresh deposits of silt, brought down by the Ganges and the Brahma- putra ; the climate is, on the whole, a healthy one ; and the people have profited greatly by the rise in general prices and the introduction of jute cultivation. The gain in Chota Nagpur would have been much larger but for an enormous amount of emigration to Assam and North Bengal. The figures for West and Central Bengal are the net outcome of a decline, or a merely nominal increase, in low-lying tracts where the drainage is defective and malaria is prevalent, and of a comparatively rapid advance in the neighbourhood of Calcutta and the Burdwan coal-fields, which attract numerous immigrants from elsewhere. Famine prevailed in North Bihar in 1897 ; but the stationary condition of this tract is due to the unhealthi- ness of its tarai, and the prevalence of plague in Saran District, rather than to famine losses. Plague is also the main cause of the decadence in South Bihar, which is greatest where the epidemic was most virulent.


The Bombay Presidency was hard hit by the famine of Bombay. 1876-8, and its population was very little larger in 1881 than it had been in 1872. During the next decade the increase was 15 per cent. ; but between 1891 and 1901 there were frequent and severe outbreaks of plague, causing a total mortality of from one-half to two-thirds of a million persons, as well as two famines, with the result that the Census of 1901 showed a net decrease of 5 per cent., the resultant of a loss of 1*6 per cent, in British territory and of 14-5 per cent, in the Native States. Taking the main divisions of the Presidency, Sind relies on irrigation and is largely independent of the rainfall ; and the extension of its canal system, coupled with the opening of new railways and greater facilities for immigration, has resulted in a gain of nearly 12 per cent. A moderate improvement was recorded in the Konkan (or coast) Districts, and the Carnatic (inland southern) Districts showed only a nominal decrement ; but in the Deccan, where the famine of 1897 was most severe, there was a decline of 4-3 per cent. Gujarat, which bore the brunt of the famine of 1900, had a loss of 13 per cent, in British Districts : its Native States suffered even more severely, the loss in some cases amounting to a quarter, and even a third, of the population recorded in 1891.


Upper Burma was annexed in 1886, and the census figures Burma, for the two earlier enumerations refer only to Lower Burma, the population of which was returned at 2,747,148 in 1872. But apart from the addition of new territory, the rate of growth has been very rapid, amounting, in the case of Lower Burma, to 24 \ per cent, in the decade 1881-91, and 21 per cent, in the ensuing ten years. The corresponding rate for Upper Burma during the latter period is 1 7 \ per cent. ; but it falls to 1 1 per cent, if we exclude from the comparison the figures for several Districts where the count of 1891 is believed to have been defective. Emigration accounts for all or most of the difference between this rate and that recorded for I^wer Burma. Burma is perhaps the most prosperous and progressive of all the Provinces, and much has been done in recent years to develop its resources. A few Districts in Upper Burma were slightly affected by famine in 1896-7, but Lower Burma escaped, and was one of the principal granaries whence the needs of other parts of India were supplied. The immigrants from outside the Province (about 475,000) are more numerous by nearly 50 per cent, than in 1891, and the quantity of rice exported has risen in the same proportion. Cultivation has extended enormously, especially in the great rice-growing Districts in the Irrawaddy delta.

Central provinces

Central The Census of 1881 disclosed an increase of 24 per cent, in Provinces. ^ e population of the Central Provinces, including Berar, but much of this was due to defective enumeration in 1872, especially in the wild and sparsely inhabited Native States. In 1891 the total population stood at 15,842,296, representing a further advance of 11-4 per cent. Then followed a succession of bad seasons, culminating, in 1896-7, in the first great local famine since the commencement of British rule, which was followed, after a single year's respite, by the widespread calamity of 1899-1900. Epidemics of cholera prevailed in seven years of the period, and malarial fever was unusually rife and severe. These disasters, coming upon a weakened and impoverished people, reduced their number in 1901 to a figure less by 8 per cent, than that recorded ten years previously. The weakest suffered most, and the resourceless, suspicious, and improvident aboriginal tribes sustained a far greater diminution than the Hindus, among whom again the low castes suffered more than the high. The age statistics show that the mortality was highest among the very old and the very young, and that the decrease in the number of persons at the reproductive ages has been very slight A rapid recovery from the losses of this disastrous decade may therefore be looked for; and, should no fresh calamity intervene, the population in 1911 will probably be found to exceed considerably that recorded in 1891. Madras. Between the years 1871 and 1901 there was, according to


the Census, a net increase in the population of the Madras Presidency of close on 23 per cent. In the first of the three decades, which witnessed the disastrous famine of 1877-8, the returns showed a fall of nearly one per cent., and this would have been far greater but for the imperfection of the enumeration of 1871. The next decade was a period of good seasons and recovery from famine losses, and the population grew by 15 per cent., the gain being greatest in the Districts which had suffered most from the famine. The ten years ending in 1901 yielded a moderate increase of 7-8 per cent. Though there was no actual famine during this decade, there were three years of scarcity, and extensive emigration took place, especially to Ceylon and Burma, the net loss by the ebb and flow of population being estimated at 858,000, compared with 550,000 in 1891 : there were also a few small outbreaks of plague.

Punjab and north –west frontier province

The Native States of the Punjab were enumerated for the Punjab and first time in 1881. In that year the population of the British ^v^ 011 * 1 " Districts of the Punjab, including the present Frontier Province, Frontier was greater by 7-1 per cent, than that recorded at the previous Province, enumeration of 1868. The natural rate of increase during this period had been checked by two famines ; but the next ten years were years of prosperity and recovery, and the Census of 1891 showed a gain of 10-7 per cent., to which British and Native territory contributed in equal proportions. In 1901 there was a further advance of 7 per cent., the net outcome of an increase of 14*4 per cent, in the Frontier Province, of 6*9 per cent, in the Punjab proper, and of 3-8 per cent, in the Native States. Famine prevailed in 1897 and 1900, chiefly in the south-eastern Districts, but the consequent mortality was small. On the other hand, there was a great development of irrigation, especially in that derived from the Chenab river, whereby an area of more than 3,000 square miles has been transformed from a barren waste into one of the most fertile wheat-producing tracts of Northern India, and a scanty population of pastoral nomads has been replaced by settled cultivators numbering more than three-quarters of a million. There has also been a rapid growth of mill industries, fostered by the cheaper fuel now obtainable from the Bengal coal- mines.

United provinces

Oudh was annexed in 1856, and a Census was taken in 1869. United The population then recorded, combined with that of the Provinces. Province of Agra, according to the enumeration of 1872, showed an increase of 5-3 per cent, in 1881. This was followed by an advance of 6-2 per cent, in 1891, and of 1-7 in 1901. In the first of these three periods the recorded rate of growth was exaggerated by the relative incompleteness of the earlier enu- merations, and real progress was retarded by the famine of 1877-9. During the next ten years the seasons were good and the increase was real. After 1891 the Provinces suffered from a succession of bad harvests, culminating in widespread famine in 1897 ; the efforts made to alleviate the distress were, however, successful in preventing serious loss of life. The heavy rainfall of the earlier years of this decade led to severe epidemics of malarial fever which, in 1894, not only raised the death-rate to an exceptional height, but so sapped the vitality of the people that the number of births in 1895 was abnormally small. The resources of these Provinces seem insufficient, under present conditions, for the support of the whole popula- tion, and for many years past large numbers of the inhabitants have been seeking a livelihood elsewhere, especially in the lower part of the Gangetic delta. The number of these emigrants had reached i^ millions in 1901, when the net loss by migration was approximately 830,000 compared with 57 1,000 ten years previously. These figures are exclusive of emigration to the West Indies, Natal, and Fiji, which caused a further net loss during the decade of about 100,000, and also of that to Nepal, for which no accurate information is available. Native Many of the Native States were omitted from the scope of

the earlier enumerations, and even where they were included the operations were not carried out with the same degree of accuracy as in British territory, and the results are less reliable. No useful purpose would therefore be served by considering the variations in their population prior to 1891. It will suffice to say that they are for the most part sparsely inhabited, and that in normal times a fairly rapid growth of population may be expected. The famines of the last decade fell with the greatest severity on many of these States, and the Census of 1901 thus showed a net decrease, as compared with its im- mediate predecessor, of 5-4 per cent., or of 6-6 per cent, if we exclude the artificial gain due to the enumeration of new areas. The results for the States in political relation with Local Governments have already been discussed under the Provinces to which they are attached. Among those which are directly under the Government of India, the loss was greatest in the tracts chiefly affected by the crop failure of 1899, viz. Baroda and the States of RSjputna, where nearly one-fifth of the population counted in 1891 had disappeared; and those of

Central India, where the decrease represented about one-sixth of the former population. Hyderabad was less seriously afflicted, and the falling off there was only 3-4 per cent. Mysore, which enjoyed a practical immunity from famine, and benefited by the rapid development of the Kolar gold- fields and the consequent general expansion of trade and industrial activity, has added 12 per cent, to its population. Kashmir, which shows an increase of 14-2 per cent., also lay for the most part outside the famine zone, and its inhabitants have profited by settlement operations and the concomitant improvements in the general administration.

Owing partly to their conservatism and dislike of change, and partly to the disadvantages which the caste system imposes tion on Hindus when separated from their own social group, the people of India are very disinclined to leave their homes, and at the time of the last Census more than nine-tenths of them were resident in the Districts where they had been born. Even of those who were enumerated elsewhere, the great majority were found only a very short distance from their original home and were not emigrants in the ordinary sense of the term. The volume of movement to a distance is, generally speaking, very small (see Table XI, p. 497), but there are several notable exceptions. The great tea industry of Assam has created a demand for labour which the local supply is wholly unable to satisfy, and the planters are thus forced to seek for coolies elsewhere. The consequence is that Assam contains three- quarters of a million immigrants, or one-eighth of its total population. These belong for the most part to the hardy aboriginal tribes of the Chota Nagpur plateau in Bengal and the adjacent parts of the Central Provinces and Madras ; and, on the expiry of the labour contracts which they execute on coming to the Province, large numbers settle down as cultiva- tors, or as carters, herdsmen, and petty traders. The drain from Bengal to Assam is almost counterbalanced by an influx of nearly half a million natives of the United Provinces, who come to seek employment in the mills of Calcutta and Howrah and the coal-mines of Burdwan, and as earth-workers, palan- quin-bearers, and field-labourers all over Bengal proper, where the indigenous inhabitants are too well off to be willing to serve for hire. Some of these immigrants stay only for the winter months, while others remain for a number of years ; but few become permanent settlers. In Burma, as in Bengal, the profits of cultivation are so great, and the amount of waste land is so enormous, that very few labcurers are available locally, and the Province is dependent on outsiders for its harvesters and for the workmen in its rice-mills. These aggre- gated nearly half a million at the time of the last Census, about three-quarters of whom were natives of Madras and Chitta- gong. More than five-sixths of the total number were males : most of these return home when the harvest and milling seasons are over, but a few settle down permanently as cultiva- tors or traders. Although separately administered under the Colonial Office, Ceylon is geographically a part of India, and its tea gardens depend for their labour force on Tamil coolies recruited in Madras. The total number of Indian immigrants in 1901 was 436,662, compared with 264,580 ten years earlier; but few of them had become domiciled in the island.

In addition to these movements from one Province to another, there are occasional instances of considerable migra- tion within the limits of the same Province. Thus, in Bengal, more than half a million natives of Bihar were enumerated in Bengal proper, whither they had one in search of labour like the immigrants from the United Provinces already referred to. The aboriginal tribes of the Chota Nagpur plateau are spreading to the north-east, and are bringing under cultivation the desolate uplands of the Barind, while large numbers of them have gone to the tea gardens of Jalpaigurf, whither they find their way without the help of the elaborate recruiting agency on which the Assam tea gardens depend. Again, between three and four hundred thousand persons born in Upper Burma were found in Lower Burma at the Census.

The statistics of birthplace collected at the Census afford no clue to the causes of migration, nor are merely temporary movements distinguished from those of a permanent nature. It would appear, however, that the various modern industrial undertakings, such as tea and coffee cultivation, coal and gold mines, jute and cotton mills, form the main incentives to mi- gration properly so called. It has been pointed out above that a very large proportion of the inhabitants of the cities of Cal- cutta and Bombay have gone thither from other parts of the country, and the same is the case, to a greater or less extent, with all the large centres of modern trade and industrial enter- prise. Irrigation is also a frequent cause of migration, and we have already seen how the barren waste of the Rechna Doab in the Punjab has received, through the Chenab Canal, a population of three-quarters of a million in the short space of ten years. A generation earlier the opening of canals in the old birsa District, now amalgamated with Hissar, caused the population to double in less than thirty years. Similarly, the irrigation works on the Kistna river in Madras have attracted many settlers from the surrounding Districts. The minor movements of the people, or casual migration, depend largely on their marriage customs which, in the case of Hindus, tend to make a man choose his bride from some other village. There are also, at certain seasons, considerable local move- ments among the landless labourers, and the harvesting of an important crop attracts large numbers of persons of this class from other parts where there is at the time less demand for their services. Lastly, there is during the cold season (i. e. at the time of year when the Census is taken) a great deal of travelling to attend important religious festivals or fairs, or to visit friends and relations and take part in weddings and other social ceremonies.


The above remarks refer to what is known as internal migra- Externaltion, i.e. to the movements of the people between different parts of India, including Ceylon. It remains to give some account of external migration, or the ebb and flow of popula- tion between India and other countries. The influx of foreigners shows a steady increase, and at the Census of 1901 they aggregated 641,854 against 408,572 twenty years previously. About 526,000 were Asiatics, the most impouant contribution being one of nearly a quarter of a million from Nepal, of which number more than half consisted of settlers from the other side of the common boundary, who had married or taken up land in the contiguous British Districts and had been (pre- sumably) replaced in Nepal by emigrants from our side of the frontier. The hills of Nepal, moreover, are an important re- cruiting ground for the Indian Army ; and on January i, 1901, there were about 13,000 Gurkhas' in the regular army and 6,000 more employed in the military police, or as porters and the like. The next largest item is that of immigrants from Afghanistan. In 1901 these numbered about 116,000, of whom all but 27,000 were found in the Punjab; of the re- mainder, a large number are itinerant dealers who ply their trade all over Northern India during the winter months. Of the other Asiatic immigrants it will suffice to mention the Chinese (47,000), whose head-quarters are in Rangoon and Calcutta ; and the Arabs (33,000), who are found mainly in the Bombay Presidency and in Hyderabad. Of the non-Asiatic immigrants, who number 104,583, the United Kingdom supplies 96,653 (81,990 males and 141663 females), Africa 8,293,

America 2,069, Germany 1,696, France 1,351, and Italy, 1,010. In 1891 the natives of the United Kingdom numbered 100,551: the decrease at the last Census is due to the absence in South Africa of a portion of the British troops ordinarily stationed in India, and the consequent reduction of the European garrison to 60,965 as compared with 67,077 in 1891. Most of the natives of Africa were enumerated in Aden.

It is impossible to give accurate figures showing the emigra- tion from India. There is no information whatever regarding the number who are resident in Nepal, Afghanistan, Tibet, and Bhutan, and the estimate of 208,000 shown in the Census Report is admittedly a mere guess. The number ,of natives of India living in Europe is inconsiderable and may be left out of account For the Colonies mentioned below we may, in the absence of other data, take the figures noted against them, which represent the Indian coolie population returned by the local Protectors of emigrants as resident there in 1900:

British Guiana 1*5,875

Trinidad 85,615

Mauritius 265,163

Natal 65,925

Fiji 15,368

Jamaica 1 5,278

Surinam 18,000

St. Lucia 1,200

Martinique 3,764

Guadeloupe 15,276

Total 611,464

The returns showing the number of Indian labourers going to and returning from Uganda indicate that about 26,000 were actually there at the time of the 1901 Census. It was esti- mated in 1898 that there were at that time 5,000 natives of India in the Transvaal, and a year later the number in Cape Colony, Basutoland, and South Rhodesia was reported to be 3,913 ; there are believed to be about 10,000 in Zanzibar; and the Census of 1891 disclosed about 15,000 in Australia and New Zealand. For all these places combined we may place the total at 35,000. Including those to Ceylon and the Straits Settlements, the aggregate number of emigrants would thus appear to be about 1,374,000, or more by 732,000 than the number of immigrants counted in India on March i, 1901. The adverse balance, though considerable by itself, forms a very small fraction of the total population, but it is possible that it may grow rapidly at no very distant date. The demand

for labour in South Africa is great and urgent; and if the difficulties which at present stand in the way of its being met by emigration from India could be removed, it is probable that Indian coolies would flock thither in large numbers. The opening out of the Ceylon jungles, and the repairing of the old irrigation works which they contain, may similarly be expected to lead to the settlement in that island of large numbers of cultivators from the more congested tracts of Southern India. At the present time the most noteworthy foreign labour markets are Mauritius, where there are more than a quarter of a million Indian coolies, chiefly on sugar plantations,, and British Guiana, where the number is approxi- mately an eighth of a million. The persons for whom these coolies are recruited are required by law to repatriate them on the expiry of the term for which they are engaged, if they wish to return to India.


Of the total population of India, 70 per cent, were returned Religion, at the last Census as Hindus, 21 per cent, as Muhammadans, 3 per cent, as Buddhists, 3 per cent, as Animists, and i per cent, as Christians, the balance being made up of Sikhs, Jains, ParsTs, Jews, and others (see Table VI, p. 493). It is very difficult in practice to distinguish between Hinduism and some of the other indigenous religions of India *. Many of the aboriginal tribes are hovering on the outskirts of Hinduism, and it is impossible to define at what precise point a member of one of these tribes should be classed as a Hindu. The procedure in individual cases thus depended on the personal predilections of the enumerators and the varying extent to which, in different parts of India, ceremonial uncleanness is held to conflict with a man's claim to be considered a Hindu. Jainism, again, is generally recognized as a distinct religion ; but in certain parts the Jains themselves strongly assert their claim to be Hindus, and some of them were doubtless thus entered at the Census. The same may have been the case with certain sections of the Sikhs, and also with some of the Himalayan Buddhists ; but in Burma, where the members of this latter persuasion are mainly found, the figures may be accepted as reliable. There is also no reason to doubt the accuracy of the return for Muhammadans and Christians, as in their case there is little room for doubt or misdescription.


Hinduism, with its 207 million votaries, is the religion of Hindus.

1 For a discussion of the practical criteria by means of which Hinduism may be distinguished from other religions indigenous to India, see India Census Report for 1901, paragraphs 634 and 66 1. India. It is professed in one or other of its multifarious forms by seven persons out of every ten ; and it predominates every- where except in the more inaccessible tracts in the central highlands and on the eastern outskirts, where it has hitherto failed to absorb the earlier faiths of the rude aborigines or the rival doctrines based on the teaching of Sakya Muni, and in certain other tracts where it has been forced to yield to the attacks of Muhammadanism and Christianity. Its position is strongest in Orissa, Mysore, and Madras, where it is professed by nine-tenths of the population ; and in Bihar, Bombay (excluding Sind), the Central Provinces, the United Provinces, and the Agencies of Central India and Rajputana, in all of which tracts the proportion exceeds four-fifths. The smaller proportions elsewhere are explained by the greater prevalence of other religions, e.g. of Buddhism in Burma, of Muham- madanism in the north-west of India and in Eastern Bengal, and of Animism in the hill tracts of Assam. The number of persons returned as Hindus in 1901 was less by half a million than it was ten years previously, and the proportion borne by them to the total population has also declined. This is due mainly to the circumstance that, generally speaking, the tracts where Hindus preponderate were those that suffered most from famine, but there are also other causes at work. The gains from the ranks of the Animists are probably exceeded by the losses on account of conversions to Muhammadanism and Christianity ; and the social customs of the Hindus, especially the prevalence of infant marriage and the prohibition of the remarriage of widows, tend to diminish their reproductive capacity as compared with the adherents of other creeds. Animists. According to the census returns, the total number of Animists in India slightly exceeds 8J millions, of whom nearly one-third are found in Bengal, more than one-fifth in the Central Provinces, one-eighth in Assam, one-ninth in the Central India Agency, and one-thirteenth in Madras; the only other tracts with a number exceeding 100,000 are Rajputana, Burma, and Baroda. In Assam and the Central Provinces the Animists form between one-sixth and one-seventh of the total population ; in Central India they exceed one-ninth, and in Baroda one-eleventh. In Bengal the general proportion is only one in twenty-nine, but in some parts it is much higher, and in two Districts of Chota N^gpur it is nearly one in two. In Madras also the distribution is very uneven, and nearly all the Animists are congregated in two Agency tracts in the north.

Excluding the outlying parts of Assam and Burma, it may be said that the amorphous congeries of pre-Hindu religious ideas which, for want of a better nomenclature, were classed together in the census returns under the title of Animism 1 , have disappeared from the open plains of India. The stream of Aryan immigration followed the downward course of this great rivers, the Ganges and the Indus, and gradually spread over the plains and along the coast. The earlier inhabitants of the open country were either subjugated or brought peace- ably under the spell of Hinduism, and it is only in the less accessible hills and forests that they have preserved their ancient tribal organization and language and the religious beliefs of their ancestors. Even here the influence of improved communications is making itself felt ; the tribal dialects are gradually being replaced by Aryan languages ; and the tribal beliefs are giving way before the direct onslaughts of Christian missionaries and the more insidious, but none the less effective, advances of Hinduism. But it is impossible, for the reasons already given, to ascertain from the census figures the rate at which the process of decay is proceeding.

Buddhists,Sikhs,and jains

Of the other indigenous religions the most important Buddhists numerically is Buddhism, with about 9^ million followers, of j^ 5 ' and whom all but a very small minority are found in Burma or on its confines : the remainder are Himalayan Buddhists, of Tibetan or Nepalese origin. The Sikhs, who slightly exceed two millions, are practically confined to the Punjab, while the Jains, with i-J millions, have their head quarters in Rajputana and Gujarat. A small sprinkling of Jains are found in the adjacent country to the south and east, but none among the natives of Bihar where the religion had its oiigin.

Modern offshoots of Hinduism

Hindu sects form a vast array ; but the statistics collected Modern at the Census regarding these are incomplete, and it must suffice to mention two monotheistic sects of recent origin, the founders of which clearly drew their inspiration from Western thought the Brahmo Samaj, founded in Bengal by a Brahman, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who died in England in 1 833 ; and the Arya Samaj, founded by Dayanand Saraswati of Kathiawar, also a Brahman, whose missionary work commenced in the

1 Animism may be defined roughly as the belief that man is surrounded by a multitude of vaguely conceived spirits or powers, some of which reside in rocks and streams and other natural objects, while others preside over disease, and others, again, have no special function or habitation. They are for the most part malignant, and require to be propitiated by offerings and ceremonies in which magic plays an important port.

United Provinces about 1860. In 1901 the latter sect had over 92,000 professed adherents, of whom 71 per cent were in the United Provinces and 27 per cent, in the Punjab. It is recruited almost wholly from the educated classes, chiefly of the Kayasth and Khattri castes ; the number of its adherents is growing apace, and showed an increase of 131 per cent, in the decade preceding the last Census. The progress of the Brahmo Samaj, which is supported chiefly by the Brahmans, Kayasths, and Baidyas of Bengal, is far less rapid, and in 1901 only 4,050 persons were returned as belonging to it, against 3,051 in 1891. This slow growth seems attributable partly to the circumstance that many Brahmos returned themselves as Hindus, and partly to the greater latitude of thought and action allowed by modern Hinduism, especially in the larger towns.


The total number of Muhammadans is 62^ millions, or rather more than a fifth of the total population. Of these 25^ millions, or 41 per cent., are in Bengal ; 14 millions, or 22^ per cent., in the Punjab and Frontier Province ; and 7 millions, or ii per cent, in the United Provinces. Bombay contains 4 millions, Madras 2*, Kashmir 2\, Assam i|, and Hyderabad \\ millions. In proportion to the total population, Islam is most strongly represented in Kashmir, where it is the religion of 74 per cent, of the inhabitants ; then follow the Punjab with 53 per cent., Bengal with 32, Assam with 26, Bombay with 18, and the United Provinces with 14 per cent. The proportions, however, vary greatly even within the same Province ; and in Bengal nearly half the aggregate is found in the eastern tract, where two-thirds of the inhabitants are followers of the Prophet, compared with only 4! per cent, in Chota Nagpur and 2^ per cent in Orissa. In Bombay nearly three-fifths of the total number of Musalmans are in Sind ; in Assam two-thirds are in the single District of Sylhet ; and in Madras one-third are in Malabar. It is easy to understand why Muhammadans should be found in large numbers in the Punjab and Sind, which lie on or near the route by which successive hordes of Afghan and Mughal invaders entered India ; but it is not at first sight apparent why they should be even more numerous in Bengal proper. The reason is that in the east and north of this tract, where the Muhammadans are most numerous, the bulk of the inhabitants had not been fully Hinduized at the time of the Muhammadan conquest, and were thus more easily brought under the influence of Islam. It is difficult to apportion the result between the peaceful persuasion of Musal- mn missionaries and forcible conversion by* fanatical rulers, but probably the former had the greater influence. That conversion at the sword's point was by no means rare is known from history, but that its influence alone cannot make very many converts is shown by the fact that, in spite of Tipu Sultan's ferocity towards 'infidels,' Mysore to this day contains an exceptionally small proportion of Muhammadans.

The increase in the number of Muhammadans during the last decade was nearly 9 per cent., or about four times that of the population at large. The tracts where they are mainly found escaped the stress of famine ; but this is not the only explanation, and almost everywhere the statistics show that they are increasing more rapidly than their Hindu neighbours. Their girls are given in wedlock at a later age, and their widows are allowed to remarry, so that a larger proportion of their females of the child-bearing ages are married ; their dietary is more nourishing ; and Tn the absence of the various marriage difficulties which so often embarrass the Hindu father of a large family of girls, their female children are taken better care of than is often the case with the Hindus. The natural rate of increase is thus relatively high; the loss by conversion to other religions is insignificant ; and there is a steady, though small, gain by accessions from the ranks of Hinduism.


The Christian community numbers 2,923,241, of whom Christians'. 2,664,313 are natives and the remainder Europeans or Eura- sians. Of the Native Christians, about two-fifths are Roman Catholics, and one-eighth Romo-Syrians, that is, Syrian Chris- tians who accept the supremacy of the Pope, but conduct their services in Syriac and are allowed a special ritual ; one-ninth belong to the Anglican communion; one-eleventh are Jacobite- Syrians ; and one-twelfth are Baptists. Of the other sects, the best represented are the Lutherans and allied denominations, who claim 6 per cent, of the total, the Methodists with 2^ and the Presbyterians with i \ per cent. 1

Nearly two-thirds of the total number of Native Christians are found in the Madras Presidency and its dependent States. In Cochin and Travancore, where the Syrian Church has most

1 The figures for the Anglican communion are swollen by the inclusion of 92,644 Protestants whose sect was not specified : two-thirds of these were returned from Travancore, where the majority were probably adherents of the London Mission. The figures for Roman Catholics proper are similarly inflated by the entry under this head of large numbers of Romo- Syrians who were not sufficiently precise in describing their sect at the Census.

of its adherents, nearly a quarter of the entire population profess the Christian faith. More than four-fifths of the Christians in Madras proper are found in the eight southern Districts, the scene of the labours of St. Francis Xavier, the later Jesuits, and Swartz: the great majority are here either Roman Catholics or Romo-Syrians. Elsewhere Christians are numerous only in Madras city, and in three Districts in the Telugu country, where the results are due mainly to Baptist missionary enterprise during the last thirty years.

Although it contains little more than one-seventh of the number enumerated in Madras, Bengal with 278,000 Chris- tians, of whom 228,000 are natives, occupies the second place. But here, too, the distribution is extraordinarily uneven, and about half the Native Christians are found in one District of Chota Nagpur, Ranch!, where Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Anglican misbions are busily engaged among the aboriginal tribes : the Lutherans, who have been at work here since 1846, claim about half the total number of converts. In Bombay there are 220,000 Christians, including 181,000 natives, of whom nearly five-sevenths are Roman Catholics. The most important missions are those of the Roman Catholics in Thana and North Kanara, of the Salvation Army in Kaira, and of the Church of England and the Congregationalists in Ahmadnagar. Burma contains 147,000 Christians, all but 18,000 are natives, and of these considerably more than half are Baptists, the majority being found in the Irrawaddy delta. The United Provinces have 103,000 Christians, of whom 69,000 are natives : the Methodists are here the most numerous, but the Anglican and Roman Churches are also well represented. In the Punjab there are 72,000 Christians, of whom, however, only 39,000 are natives of the country. The only other tracts which contribute in any marked degree to the total Christian popula- tion are Mysore and Assam, with 50,000 and 36,000 respectively, of whom 40,000 and 34,000 are natives.

As might be expected, the growth of Christianity is far more rapid than that of the general population. Its adherents have riben in number from 1,506,098 in 1872 to 2,923,241 in 1901, or from 1,246,288 to 2,664,313 if Native Christians alone be taken into account That is to say, the Native Christian community has increased by 114 per cent, during this period. The degree of success attending missionary effort at the present day is even greater than would appear from these figures, as they include the adherents of the old Syrian Church, whose true strength far exceeds the 24 per cent, shown in the returns,

and which is not an actively proselytizing body. During the last decade the native members of the Anglican communion have added 26 per cent, to their numbers, the Baptists 15 per cent, the Lutherans 138, and the Methodists 139 per cent. The Salvation Army had a total of nearly 19,000 in 1901, against only 1,300 ten years previously. Since 1891 very rapid progress has been made by the Baptists of the Telugu country in Madras, the Lutherans in the Ranch! District of Bengal, and the Methodists in the west of the United Provinces.

Europe and Eurasians

The number of Europeans is returned as 169,677, compared European*

with 1 68, 158 in iSoi.and that of Eurasians as 80,251, compared ?? d .

Eurasians, with 80,044. I he apparently more rapid growth of the latter community is believed to be due, in part, to the greater success attained at the last Census in counteracting the tendency of Eurasians to describe themselves as Europeans. The same circumstance, coupled with the temporary absence in South Africa of a considerable number of the British troops ordinarily stationed in India, explains the very small increase among Europeans. The distribution of the European population depends to a great extent on the location of the British troops, who account for more than a third of the total, being most numerous in Northern India and least so in Bengal, Madras, and Assam. Excluding soldiers, Europeans are found mainly in the large cities : three-fifths of those enumerated in Bengal were residing in Calcutta and its environs, and nearly two-fifths of those of the Western Presidency and Burma were found in Bombay city and Rangoon. Eurasians are most numerous in Madras (26,209) and Bengal (20,893); next come Burma with 8,449 and Bombay with 6,899 > an d ^ ien My s ore and the United Trounces with between 5,000 and 6,000 each. More than one-third of the persons returned as Europeans were born in India. The proportion falls to less than a, quarter if we exclude children under fifteen, all of whom may be roughly assumed to have been born in the country ; but it rises to two-fifths if we exclude the troops, who may similarly be assumed to be wholly British-born. By nationality ten Europeans in every eleven are British subjects : most of those owning allegiance to other flags are missionaries or members of foreign trading firms. By sect two-thirds of the Europeans are soown as members of the Anglican communion and one- fifth as Roman Catholics, while one-seventeenth were returned as Presbyterians. Of the Eurasians half are Roman Catholics and two-fifths are Anglicans; the majority of the remainder are either Methodists, Presbyterians, or Baptists. Age. The people of India seldom keep count of their age, and their ideas on the subject are for the most part vague and inaccurate. It is thus impossible to place much reliance on this branch of the statistics collected at the Census. At the same time the official returns of births and deaths are so imperfect, and the other data on which to base an estimate of the mean duration of life and of the true birth and death-rates so meagre, that we cannot afford to neglect any source from which even an approximation to the actual facts may be deduced. Moreover, in a huge population like that of India, accidental mistakes tnd to cancel one another, while the error due to the habit of plumping on favourite numbers can be eliminated by various methods of 'smoothing' or adjustment. Lastly, the degree of error may be assumed to be constant, and the data thus afford a basis of comparison between different periods and different parts of the country.


The mean age of the living at the time of the Census of 1901 is estimated in the Census Report at 24-9 years. The annual death-rate is placed at 38-4, and the birth-rate at 44-4 per thousand. These figures are admittedly mere approximations. They refer, moreover, to the whole Empire, and there are great local variations. The mean age of the living in Northern India is estimated to be nearly one year greater than in Bengal and Bombay, and it is thus inferred that the Aryan element in the population enjoys a relatively greater longevity than the Mongolian or Dravidian. It must, however, be remembered that the mean age of the living depends not only on the longevity of the people, but also on the extent to which the birth-rate exceeds the death-rate. The influence of famine on the age distribution is well marked ; and in Bengal, which suffered little during the decade preceding the Census of 1901, there are 1,327 per 10,000 males under the age of ten, compared with only 1,148 in Bombay, where the stress was exceptionally severe : the corre- sponding proportion for the latter Province in 1891, when there had been no famine for more than ten years, was 1,437. In the Central Provinces (outside Berar), where there has been a decrease in the total population of 8*3 per cent, the age statistics show that this is due entirely to losses among the very old and the very young, the number of persons between the ages often and forty being slightly greater than it was in 1891. The general birth-rate, as estimated in the Census Report, is high compared with that of most European countries ; but this is explained by the greater longevity of European races, which reduces the proportion borne by persons at the reproductive ages to the total population, coupled with the greater frequency of the married state in India, where 78 per cent, of the females between fifteen and forty-five years of age are married, compared with only 47 per cent, in England. If we calculate the birth-rate on the number of married females at the above ages, instead of on the total population, the proportion per thousand in India is 247-5 a 8 against 254-9 in England. The birth-rate is highest among the Animistic tribes and lowest in the case of the Hindus, while the rate for Muhammadans approaches more nearly to the former than to the latter. These variations seem to depend mainly on causes similar to those which have been cited in explanation of the difference between India as a whole and England.


In most European countries the females outnumber the Sex. males, but in India there are only 963 of this sex per 1,000 males. The general result is shared by all Provinces and States except the Central Provinces and Madras, where there is a marked excess of females, and Bengal, where the two sexes are on a par, a superfluity of females in Bihar, Orissa, and Chota Nagpur being counterbalanced by a marked deficiency in Bengal proper. The dearth of females is extraordinarily great in Coorg, Baluchistan, the Punjab, and Kashmir, where it exceeds one in nine, and is almost as marked in Ajmer and Rajputana. Next follow Baroda, the United Provinces, Bombay, and Central India ; then Assam, Burma, and Hyderabad. The crude proportions are, however, affected not only by natural causes, but also by migration ; and if we allow for this by replacing all emigrants in the Province or State in which they were born, the number of females per thousand males rises in Burma from 962 to 1,027, in Assam from 949 to 973, in Coorg from 80 1 to 963, and in Mysore from 980 to 994. In the United Provinces, on the other hand, it falls from 937 to 926, in the Punjab from 852 to 849, and in Madras from 1,025 to 1,011. The general result, after discounting the effect of migration, is that females are outnumbered by males throughout the western half of India, especially in the northern portion, while in the eastern half the reverse is everywhere the case, save only in Bengal proper and Assam. The general proportion of females appears to be steadily rising ; but in the Punjab there has been no change since 1891, and in 'Bengal there has been a continuous decline since 1881. The greatest improvement during the last decade has occurred in the Central Provinces, where it has been explained on the ground that females are constitutionally the stronger sex and so less liable to succumb to the effects of insufficient food and the diseases consequent thereon. This hypothesis accords with the variations recorded at different enumerations in other parts of India and with the opinions of competent observers, and it may be accepted as fully established.

It is less easy to find a satisfactory explanation of the causes which, in the greater part of India, have produced a deficiency of females. It does not seem to be due, to any appreciable extent, to their concealment at the Census, nor can any correla- tion be traced between the proportions of the sexes and climate, season of gestation, food, consanguineous marriages, and the like. In former times the difficulty and expense of obtaining husbands led in some parts to the destruction of female infants. This practice was specially common among the Rajputs of north-western India ; but it has now been put down and still lingers in very few places, and there only among certain sections of the population. But even where female infanticide is no longer, or perhaps never was, in vogue, there is no doubt that female children receive far less care than those of the other sex. It follows that, in comparison with mules, fewer survive the diseases of infancy than in Europe, where the number of males at birth exceeds that of females to almost the same extent as it does in India, but where their excess mortality is so great as to reduce them to a minority before the close of the first year of life 1 . Nor is it only in infancy that female life is exposed to relatively greater risks than in Europe. There is also the clanger of functional derangement due to premature cohabitation and child-bearing, unskilful midwifery, exposure, and hard labour. Apart from these factors of a more or less general character, it is possible that the proportions are influenced by race. Among the Dravidians females are distinctly more numerous than among the castes of Aryan or semi- Aryan descent. In the case of the Mongoloid races the results are less uniform : females preponderate in the Western Himalayan region and in Burma, and also among many of the Assam tribes ; but they are in a minority in Northern and Eastern Bengal ; among the cognate races in Assam, the Kaibarttas, Chandals, and various Bodo tribes ; and also among the Lepchas and other Himalayan tribes on the northern frontier of Bengal. It may be added that the registered proportion of female to male births varies from time to time: in the Punjab, for example, it was 91 per cent, in 1896, compared with 88 only four years earlier.

1 Even in India the proportion of females to males at the Census is generally considerably in excess of that disclosed by the birth statistics.


The universality of marriage among all sections of the population Marriage. of India has already been alluded to. About half the total number of males are unmarried (see Table VIII, p. 494)? but of these three-quarters are under fifteen years of age. Among males between thirty and forty years of age only one in 1 2 is celibate, and among those between forty and sixty only one in 20. The figures for females are even more striking. Only one- third of the total number are unmarried, and of these three- quarters are under the age of ten, and seven-tenths of the remainder under fifteen. Less than one-twelfth of the females returned at the Census as single had completed the fifteenth year of thyir age, and of these the great majority were either prostitutes or concubines, or were suffering from some serious bodily affliction. It does not, of course, follow that all who are not single have a husband or wife : there is also the great category of the widowed 1 , which embraces one-eighteenth of the male and one-sixth of the female population. The number of widowed males under forty years of age is insignificant ; but among females aged 20-30 no less than one-eleventh are already widowed, and more than one-fifth of those aged 30-40. At 40-60 one-half are widowed, and at 60 and over more than four-fifths.

In illustration of the great difference between India and England in respect of marriage customs, it may be mentioned that in England from three-fifths to two-thirds of both sexes are single and about a third are married, while only one male in 30 is widowed and one female in 13. The proportions among these classes depend, of course, not only on the number of persons who enter into matrimony, but also on the absolute and relative ages of the parties at marriage, and on the extent to which persons who have lost one helpmate are in the habit of taking a second. Marriage takes place at a much earlier age in India, especially among females, while widows marry again far less frequently, and even widowers less often, than in Europe.

Variation in marriage customs by religion and locality

Within the limits of India, again, there are marked variations, Variations both by religion and locality. Muhammadans, Buddhists, and J." , lv Animists marry later than the Hindus, and their proportion of toms by married persons is consequently smaller, though not so small as rell lon it would be were it not that they allow and practise widow locality. marriage to a greater extent than do the Hindus. The higher castes of Hindus almost everywhere forbid their widows to

1 The number of the divorced in India is inconsiderable. Divorce, even when recognized, is of very rare occurrence, and the few persons returned under this denomination were classed as widowed. remarry ; in some parts, e.g. in Bengal proper, all but the very lowest castes follow their example ; but elsewhere, as in Bihar, this is not so. The prevalence of infant marriage among Hindus is also far from uniform ; and whereas in Southern India the number of child-wives is small, in Berar one-sixth, and in Bihar nearly one-fifth, of the total number of females under ten years of age are married 1 . It must be remembered, however, that cohabitation is, generally speaking, deferred until the girl is mature, the principal exceptions to this rule being confined to Bengal. The marriage of a girl before she attains the age of puberty is inculcated in the Shcistras, but this fact leaves the local variations in the practice still to be accounted for. Where the custom of demanding a high bride-price is in* vogue, as among certain castes of Bengal proper, males usually marry late, either because they cannot provide the necessary expendi- ture earlier, or because they do not care to do so until the time has come when they are able to enter on real married life. Similarly where the bridegroom has to be paid for, as among the Rajputs and Charans of Rajputana, the girls usually attain, and frequently pass, the age of puberty before they are given in marriage. Where neither side has to pay much and the marriage ceremony is inexpensive, a custom has in some parts sprung up (chiefly among the lower castes) of giving boys and girls in marriage while both parties are still children ; and for this it is difficult to find an explanation, unless perhaps that the Brah- mans consider it to be their interest to promote marriage, and pocket the fees which it brings to them at the earliest opportunity. It may be added that where local or caste rules forbid widows to remarry, parents are often reluctant to give their daughters in wedlock at a very early age and so expose them to the risk of a long life of misery.

Animists, Muhammadans, and Buddhists usually keep their girls single till several years after puberty, but in Baroda and Central India infant marriage appears to be in vogue among the Bhlls and cognate Animistic tribes.


Although in theory polygamy is allowed, in practice a second wife is rarely taken while the first is alive, and in India as a whole there are only 1,011 wives to every 1,000 husbands, so that even if no husbands have more than two wives, all but 1 1 per thousand must be monogamous. The excess of wives is greatest (31 per thousand) among Animists, and next greatest among Muhammadans (21 per thousand): in the case of 1 In one District of Bihar the proportion exceeds two-fifths. Hindus and Buddhists it is only 8 and 7 per thousand re- spectively, while among Christians, who are of course strict monogamists, and of whom many are foreigners, the excess is on the side of the husbands.


There are two recognized types of polyandry the matri- Polyandry, archal, where a woman forms simultaneous alliances with two or more men who are not necessarily related to each other, and succession is therefore traced through the female ; and the fraternal, where she becomes the wife of several brothers. The former practice was once prevalent among the Nayar and other castes on the Malabar coast, but it has now fallen into desuetude, though the women enjoy full liberty (which, how- ever, is seldom exercised) to change their husbands, and succession is still traced through the female, i. e. a Nayar's next heirs are not his own sons, who belong to their mother's family, but his sister's. The latter form of polyandry is still more or less common along the whole of the Himalayan area from Kashmir to Assam, and likewise among the Todas of the Nilgiris. It exists as a recognized institution chiefly among people of Tibetan affinities, but it occurs also, though more or less concealed, among various communities in the plains, such as the Jats of the Punjab and the Santals of Bengal. The census returns, however, throw no light on this subject.


At the Census of 1901 the population was divided into two Education, broad categories the literate, or those who could both read and write, and the illiterate who could not do so. Even in this limited sense of the word only 53 per thousand were returned as literate, viz. one male in 10, and one female in I44 1 , but it seems probable that the true proportions are somewhat higher. According to the census returns the pro- portion is smaller at the school-going ages than it is in later life, and the inference seems to be that many of those still under instruction were excluded from the category of the literate. In the case of females, moreover, there have probably been some omissions, owing to the prejudice against admitting that women are thus qualified which prevails in some sections of the population. Of the larger British Provinces Burma easily holds the first place, two-fifths of its male, and one- eleventh of its female, population being able to read and write. This Province enjoys an extensive system of indigenous free education, imparted by the pongyis or Buddhist monks attached to the monasteries ; but the teaching is of a very elementary

1 For actual figures at various ages see Table IX (p. 495). kind, and the number of really educated persons is relatively much smaller in Burma than in many other Provinces. According to the census returns, Madras stands next to Burma, with scarcely a third of its proportion of literate persons ; then follow Bombay and Bengal ; and then, at a considerable distance, Assam, the Punjab, the United Provinces, and the Central Provinces. The Native States taken as a whole have only 79 males and 6 females who arc literate per thousand of each sex ; but Cochin, Travancore, and Baroda occupy a higher position than any British Province except Burma.

The proportion of literate persons is highest along the sea- coast and gradually diminishes as one proceeds inlantf. There are more persons able to read and write among those who speak Dravidian and Mongolian languages than among those whose vernaculars belong to the Aryan family. Of the religious communities the Parsis stand first, \\ith two-thirds of their total able to read and write. Then come the Jains with 25, and the Buddhists with 22 per cent, while the Christians follow close on the Buddhists. A long gap ensues, and then come the Sikhs and Hindus, who have 6 and 5 per cent, respectively; then the Muhamnudans with 3 ; and last of all the Animists, with less than \ per cent. The general position of Muham- madans is determined by the figures for Bengal and the Punjab, uhere the bulk of them are found; elsewhere it is at least as good as that of the Hindus.

Of the total population of India, 68 males and 7 females in 10,000 persons of each sex were returned as literate in English ; but if Christians be excluded, the proportions fall to 56 males and i female. The Parsis stand easily first among the indigenous religious communities, no less than two-fifths of their males and one-tenth of their females being able to read and write English. Then come in order Jains, Hindus, Sikhs, Muhammadans, Buddhists, and Animists, with proportions ranging, in the case of males, from 134 to 2 per 10,000, while for females the maximum is i per 10,000. These figures arc merely general averages, and in special cases, e.g. among the Baidyas of Bengal or the Prabhus of Bombay, there is quite a remarkable number of English-knowing persons. The knowledge of this language is most widespread in Madras, Bombay, and Bengal. The Native States generally are backward, but this is not the case in Cochin, Travancore, and Mysore.

The corresponding returns for previous enumerations were under three heads learning, literate, and illiterate and it is thus impossible to institute an effective comparison with them.


The infirmities regarding which information was collected Infirmities at the Census were insanity, deaf-mutism, blindness, and leprosy. The total number of persons suffering from one or other of these four afflictions shows a progressive decline from 937,063 in 1881 to 670,817 in 1901. It is probable that in recent years these unfortunate persons, a large majority of whom belong to the lowest grades of society and subsist mainly by begging, have suffered from the ravages of plague and famine to a far greater extent than the general population. It is also probable that the long period of peace and growing material prosperity which, in spite of occasional set-backs, the country has enjoyed under British rule, coupled with the spread of education, the greater attention paid to sanitation, and, above all, the increasing medical relief afforded at the public hospitals and dispensaries, must have combined, directly and indirectly, to reduce the number of the afflicted. At the same time there seems to be no doubt that a large part of the reduction that has taken place is due to greater care in eliminating from the returns maladies which did not properly belong to the four heads mentioned above. The total number of persons returned as of unsound mind in 1901 was 66,205, or ' ess *h an one m every 4,000. It is believed that cretins, and imbeciles generally, were not, as a rule, thus classed by the enumerators, and that the figures refer principally to the more acute forms of mental disorder. According to the returns, this affliction is most prevalent in Burma, the northern part of Bengal proper, Kashmir, and Assam ; and least so in the United and the Central Provinces. In all 153,168 persons (i.e. 6 males and 4 females per 10,000 of each sex) were returned as deaf-mutes. This infirmity, which is often combined with cretinism and goitre, is most common in the sub-Himalayan area and especially along the banks of certain rivers. The blind numbered 354,104, or 12 males and 12 females per 10,000, compared with 9 males and 8 females in England and Wales. Blindness is more common in all tropical countries than in those which enjoy a temperate climate. In India the affliction is far more prevalent in the dry and arid plains of Rajputana and the Punjab than in the humid tracts in the deltas of the Ganges and Irrawaddy, where there is com- paratively little dust and glare, and the houses in which the people live are larger, lighter, and better ventilated. The number of persons returned as lepers was 97,340, i.e. 5 males and 2 females in every 10,000. The disease is remarkably local : it is most prevalent in Northern Arakan (Burma) and in

a small group of Districts in Western Bengal ; then come the Goalpara District of Assam and the western part of Berar; then a tract on the lower spurs of the Himalayas, lying partly in the Punjab and partly in the United Provinces ; and next, Orissa. These tracts appear to have little or nothing in common, and no plausible explanation of their greater liability to leprosy is forthcoming.


The Census return of occupations summarized in Table XIII is subject to several limitations. It refers only to the state of things on a particular day ; and occupations of a seasonal character, such as earth-work, jute pressing, indigo manufacture, rice milling, &c., are thus obliterated or unduly jnagniSed. The figures, moreover, relate only to the principal occupation, and persons who combine several means of livelihood were entered under the main one only 1 . This, though unavoidable, is a serious defect : division of labour has not yet proceeded very far in India, and the same man often combines several pursuits which in Europe would be quite distinct. The fisher- man, for instance, is often a boatman, the money-lender a land- owner, the shepherd a blanket-weaver, and the maker of most articles of common use is also the seller of the same. lastly, the entries were often ^i) vague, so that it was impossible to say definitely what form of employment was referred to ; or (2) incorrect, either intentionally, as when occupations which are held to be more reputable were returned instead of others of a meaner nature, or accidentally, owing to confusion of thought and the failure to distinguish clearly between a man's traditional occupation, as indicated by his caste, and the actual pursuit by means of which he earns his living.

At the same time there are certain main features which stand out very clearly. Nearly two-thirds of the population in 1901 relied on some form of agriculture as their principal means of subsistence : 52 per cent, were either landlords or tenants, 12 per cent, were field labourers, and about i per cent were growers of special products or engaged in estate management, &c. In addition to these, about 2\ per cent, who mentioned some other form of employment as the chief source of their livelihood, were also partially agriculturists ; and another 6 per cent, who were shown as * general labourers/ were doubtless in the main supported by work in the fields. About 15 per cent of the population are maintained by the preparation and

1 There was one exception : persons partially agriculturists were shown as snch where agriculture was the secondary, as well as where it was the main, occupation.

supply of material substances ; and of these more than a third find a living by the provision of food and drink, and a quarter by working and dealing in textile fabrics and dress. Domestic and sanitary services provide a livelihood for only 4 per cent, of the population ; and commerce, the learned and artistic professions, and service under Government for barely half as many each. In cities, as might be expected, the functional distribution is very different from that in the country as a whole : the proportion of persons dependent on agriculture falls from two-thirds to one-twelfth ; the number engaged on the preparation and supply of material substances rises from one-seventh to two-fifths ; one-eighth derive a livelihood from commerce, and nearly as many from personal and domestic services ; one-eleventh from unskilled labour, and one-fourteenth from Government service. The persons who most frequently practise agriculture in conjunction with other pursuits are those engaged in Government service ; and the village servants, such as potters, blacksmiths, washermen, and barbers : the latter are in most parts regular members of the village community, whose rights and duties arc strictly hereditary, and who hold a small allotment of land, which they usually cultivate themselves, in part payment for their services. The devolution of occupa- tion from father to son, here alluded to, which is so closely bound up with the caste system, is perhaps the most striking feature in the functional distribution of the people of India. The son of a priest is generally a priest ; of a potter, a potter ; and so forth. This is often the case even with criminal pursuits, such as thagi (now happily extinct) and offences against property. There are many wandering gangs of heredi- tary criminals whose ostensible means of livelihood are basket- making, fortune-telling, juggling or peddling ; but who really subsist on the profits of cattle-lifting, and of thefts and dacoities based on information gleaned by their women while plying their professed trade. The supervision of these gangs is one of the recognized duties of the police. In recent years, how- ever, a process of disintegration has set in and the influence of heredity on function is growing weaker. Under the British Government all paths of employment are open to high and low alike ; education is no longer the prerogative of the higher castes ; improved communications have enabled the people to move about freely in search of a livelihood ; and various new occupations have been created, while a few have become less profitable. People are thus beginning to desert the avocations of their ancestors in favour of others which they regard as more remunerative or more respectable.

This is the case even with the Brahmans, large numbers of whom are found not only in Government service and in the law courts, but also in the ranks of physicians, landholders, traders, cooks, &c. The most marked defection from their hereditary craft is shown by the hand-weavers, who are unable to compete successfully with the machine-made products of Lancashire and Bombay. As regards new avenues of employment opened up under British rule, the census returns show that nearly a million persons are supported by employment on tea gardens, over half a million on railways, 154,000 in the post office and telegraph services, and 106,000 on coffee plantations. According to the same statistics, which are, however, far from complete, more than i ^ million persons are employed in factories, coal-mines, and the like : the cotton mills, chiefly in Bombay, account for 348,000, and the jute mills of Bengal for 131,000. The total thus already exceeds 3,000,000, and there are indications that it will be greatly increased in the near future. The local production of coal, coupled with the extension of railway communication, has removed one of the chief obstacles to progress, and native capital is beginning to flow more freely towards industrial enterprise, though it still lacks confidence in joint-stock under- taking^.

It is very difficult, in India, to distinguish between workers and dependents ; but, so far as the figures collected at the Census can be relied on, 47 per cent, of the population work for their living and 53 per cent, are dependent on others. Of the males two-thirds were returned as actual workers, and of the females only one-third. The absolute number of female workers is greatest in the case of rent-payers, field and general labourers, and rent-receivers, but in all these cases male workers are also very numerous : flour-grinding, silkworm rearing, rope and net-making, midwifery, and tattooing are avocations which are more or less the monopoly of women.

Note, For further information on the subject of this chapter see Report on the Census of India , 1901.

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