Demographic Condition

Demographic Condition in Colonial India

Demographic Condition details regarding the population of British India were primarily obtained through a census in 1881. Though suffering from several conditions, it unveiled the unevenness in Indian population growth. Consequently, every 10 years such census procedures were conducted. Prior to 1921, India was in the initial step of demographic transformation. The second step of transformation rose after 1921. Neither the cumulative population of India nor the rate of population increase at this step was high. The many social development signs were also not really promising. The comprehensive literacy level was less than 16%. Out of 16%, the female literacy level was at a negligible low of about 7%. Public health facilities were either unavailable to extensive parts of the population or when obtainable were highly lacking.

The overall death rate was pretty high and in that, unusually, the infant death rate was considerably frightening – about 218 per 1,000 in contradiction to the present infant death rate of 40 per 1,000. Life expectancy was quite low – 44 years in contradiction to the present 68 years. In the lack of reliable statistics, it is challenging to define the intensity of poverty at that time but there is no suspicion that great poverty predominated in India during the colonial era which offered to the worsening outline of India’s population of the time. In such a poor demographic condition, water and air-borne diseases were widespread and took an enormous price on the lives of the people.


A demographic condition during the British Rule exhibited the following features of stagnant and backward Indian economy:
  • The overall literacy level was less than 16 percent which increased to 74.04% in 2011.
  • Out of this, female literacy level was at a negligible low of about 7 percent.
  • At the time of independence, people use to spend 80% to 90% of their income on basic necessities i.e. Food, cloth and Shelter.
  • This spending was not adequate for the satisfaction of their needs.
  • Some parts of India were severely affected by severe famines and million died.
  • The worst famine in India was Bengal famine of 1943 when 3 million people died.
  • Birth rate – It refers to the number of children born per thousand people in a year.
  • Death rate– It refers to the number of people dying per thousand people in a year.
  • Both birth rate and death rate were very high nearly 48 and 40 per thousand respectively.
  • There was a lack of Public health facilities for the majority of the population.
  • As a result, there were widespread water and air-borne diseases
  • It refers to the number of infants dying before reaching the age of one year per 1000 live births in a year.
  • Lack of adequate public health facilities, the occurrence of frequent natural calamities and famine resulted in widespread poverty and high infant mortality rate.
  • It was quite alarming—about 218 per thousand.
  • It refers to the average life of a person.
  • It was very low for around 32 years.
Q.1 _____________refers to a widespread scarcity of food, hunger, starvation caused by crop failure, government policy etc.
a. Famine

b. Drought

c. Flood

d. None of the above

Q.2-________refers to an average number of years that a person can expect to live.
a. Infant mortality rate

b. Life expectancy

c. Death rate

d. Life rate

Q.3 Life expectancy at the time of independence was____________ years.
a. 52

b. 42

c. 32

d. 62

1-a , 2-b, 3-c

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