India's Population

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India with its 1.21 billion population occupies second place in the world next to China. India has about 17.5% of the world population with only 2.4% of the world area. The changes in the size and growth of India’s population are considered here in terms of two broad periods, namely Pre-Independence period and the Post-Independence period. The year 1881 is important in the sense that it was the year when the first census on a country wide basis was taken in India.

Population of India: Pre Independence Period

According to Herodotus (490 B.C.), India was one of the most populous countries in the world. Alexender’s army which invaded India in 327-326 B.C., found a large population. India’s first real empire under Chandragupta Maurya (321-297 B.C.) left records indicating the existence of a standing army of approximately 7,00,000 men. Only a very substantial population could have supported such a large army. The first national decadal census was conducted in 1881 recording a population of 225 million which declined to 251 million in 1921.

The Population of India: Post Independence Period

Till 1951, when the first census after independence was conducted, the decadal growth was around 13 to 14 percent, registering a gradual rise. 1961 recorded a growth of 21.5percent, which increased to 24.8 and 24.7 percent in 1971 and 1981 respectively. In 1991 the growth rate slightly declined to 23.6 percent. It is a matter of concern that the decadal population growth rate has declined to 21.2 percent in 2001 which further declined to 17.6 percent in 2011. It is estimated that by 2028 India will double its population and it will become the most populous country in the world by 2035.

Population Planning in Five Year Plans :

India is the first country of the world to adopt the population planning to control its...
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