Read this article to learn about the Growth of Population in India (Timeline and Statistics)!

A. Stable Population Period (1891-1921):

According to Kingslay Davis, “India’s population remained almost stationary since 1800 at around 125 million for about 50 years.

The population recorded at the time of 1881 census exceeded the figure for 1921 by 1.47 crore.

This increase in population was due to the following reasons:


1. Period of 1891-1901:

During these ten years, population reduced by about 4 lakh persons. It is because of the reason that during these years due to occurrence of famines, plague, malaria many people lost their lives.

2. Period of 1901-1911:

During this period, population increased by about 158 lakh. The main reason of this increase in population was that due to lack of famines, death rate reduced considerably.


3. Period of 1911-1921:

In the period of 1911-1921, due to occurrence of famines, plague, malaria, population again reduced by about 7 lakh. Influenza in 1918 caused 140 lakh deaths in the country.

B. Fast Growth of Population (1921-1951):

The rate of growth of population was moderate and irregular till 1921. The year of 1921 is known as the year of Great Divide. The rate of population growth fluctuated between 1.0 and 1.35 per cent per annum.

1. Period of 1921-1931:


During the period 1921-1931 population increased by about 276 lakh.

2. Period of 1931-41:

The census of 1931 and 1941 recorded an increase of about 28 and 40 per million respectively.

3. Period 1941-1951:

In 1951, total population was recorded to the extent of 361 million i.e. 42 million increase over 1941 year. During the thirty years between 1921-51, the increase amounted to 109 million or an average 3.63 million a year.

C. Population Explosion: 1951 onwards:

The year of 1951 is also termed as population explosion year. During the period of ten years, population increased by 781 lakh. The growth rate of population was 21.5% in the decade of 1951-61 compared to the previous ones.

1. Period of 1951-61:

During this decade, population increased by 781 lakh. It is the highest increase in one decade.

2. Period of 1961-71:


During 1961-71, the population increased by 1090 lakh. The growth rate of population was 24.8%.

3. Period of 1971-81:

During the period 1971-81, population increased by 1376 lakh. The growth rate of population was witnessed to be 25%.

4. Period of 1981-91:


During this decade population was 84.63 crore.

5. From 1991 to 2001:

According to the latest population census of 2001, the population of India increased to 102.70 crore in 2001. Growth rate of population during this period was 1.9 percent per year. The main factor responsible for this tremendous rise in population in the last 50 years was fall in death rate due to improvement in medical facilities but no fall in birth rate.

During the period of 30 years between 1961 to 1991, population has increased by 40 crore. This increase was 10 times more than the increase in the previous 30 years, from 1901 to 1931. Rapid rate of growth of population in India is shown diagrammatically in Fig. 2.


Growth of Population in India

Fig. 2 shows that up to point ‘A’ i.e. 1921, population was stable. After 1921 it rose gradually. But after 1951 i.e. point ‘B’, population curve is rising steeply. It signifies that after 1951 growth rate of population was very high. According to 2001 census, population of India touched 102 crore. Currently, growth rate of population in India is 1.9 percent per annum. Population explosion is a situation, when the population grows at such a faster rate that existing resources of a country are not able to fulfill the present needs of their people.

Population of India is growing very rapidly. India is the second largest country in the world after China. India is having 15.0 per cent of the total world’s population with only 2.4 per cent of world’s total geographical area and 2 per cent of the world’s income. One-fourth of the total population of Asia lives in India. In 1921, the population of India was only 25.1 crores which increased to 84.4 crores in 1991.

The decadal growth rate of population (during 1981-91) was 24 percent and the annual average growth rate was 2.1 per cent. Our population increases by 40 per minute or nearly 1.25 crore per year. Again according to 2001 census, the population of India rose to 102.7 crore. After every three months India produces one Israel, after every six months one Switzerland and after one year India produces one Australia.

This rate of growth is tremendous to which some economists describe it as population explosion. Besides this, it gives birth to many problems such as the problem of food shortage, poverty, unemployment, low standard of living. It proves that India is facing the problem of population explosion.

The trends of growth of population since 1871 onwards has been illustrated in table 1. depicts the trend of population.