Demographic Condition

Demographic Condition in Colonial India

The details of the Demographic condition regarding the population of British India, were primarily obtained through a census in 1881. Though suffering from several conditions, it unveiled the unevenness in the growth of Indian population. Consequently, in every ten years, such census procedures were conducted. Prior to 1921, India was in the initial step of demographic transformation.

The second step of transformation started after 1921. Neither the cumulative population of India nor the increase in the rate of population at this step was high. Also, many social development signs were not really promising. 

The comprehensive literacy level was less than 16%. Out of 16%, the female literacy level was low, at about 7%. Public health facilities were either unavailable to extensive parts of the population or when obtainable were highly lacking.

Also, read: Occupational structure in India

The overall death rate was pretty high, and in that, unusually, the infant death rate was considerably frightening, about 218 per 1,000 as compared to the present infant death rate of 29 per 1,000. 

Life expectancy was quite low, about 32 years as compared to the present 69 years. In the lack of reliable statistics, it is challenging to define the intensity of poverty at that time. However, there is no suspicion towards a great poverty predominated in India during the colonial era that offered the worst 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 toll on the lives of the people.

Also, explore

Indian Industries during British rule

 Agriculture sector during Independence

India’s Demographic Profile

A demographic condition during the British rule exhibited the following features of stagnant and backward Indian economy:
Low literacy rate The overall literacy level was less than 16% which increased to 74.04% in 2011.

 Out of this, the female literacy level was negligible, about 7%.

Low standard of living At the time of independence, the people used to spend 80% to 90% of their income on basic necessities, i.e., food, clothes, and shelter.

This was not adequate for the satisfaction of their needs.

Some parts of India were severely affected by severe famines and millions died.

 The worst famine in India was the Bengal famine of 1943 when three million people died.

High birth and death rate Birth rate: It refers to the number of children being born per thousand in a year.

Death rate: It refers to the number of people dying per thousand in a year.

 Both birth rate and death rate were very high.

Poor health facilities 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.

High infant mortality rate It refers to the number of infants dying before reaching the age of one year per 1,000 live births.

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.

Low life expectancy It refers to the average life of a person.

 It was very low for around 32 years.

 Recommended links: Class 11 Economics Important Question

Q.1 _____________ refers to a widespread scarcity of food, hunger, starvation caused by crop failure, government policy, and more.
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


Answer Key
1 – a, 2 – b, 3 – c


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