NOTES AND EVENTS 1. POPULATION PRESSURE IN INDIA A. W. MAHATME ...
NOTES AND EVENTS
1. POPULATION PRESSURE IN INDIA
A. W. MAHATME
This paper discusses the usefulness of the concept of population density as Indian Census defines it, and
poses the question as to whether it would not be more relevant in this connection to think of a more refined
measure which would relate to population pressure on land resources from which food and other essential
commodities are produced, and, similarly, on available housing stock.
The author observes that the picture with regard to relative crowding of population in the various States of
India, presented in Indian Census reports on the basis of population per sq. km. of total geographic area,
changes considerably if the density of population is worked out per sq. km. of arable land or per room as a
Mr. A. W. Mahatme was in the service of the Census Organisation of the Government of India and retired as
Joint Director of Census Operations.
Planet earth is home to millions of species of plants and animals. But the issue we
propose to discuss here relates to pressure of human population alone, in India. In
giving population statistics in a census report, it is customary to present, in respect of
every territorial unit, not only its population, but also its area, and to indicate the
population which works out per sq. km. of area, that is, the density of the population.
The figure shown for the area, however, represents the total geographic area of the
unit. Since the entire geographic area may not in many cases be habitable, the
density worked out in this manner is, at best, a crude measure, but nonetheless, has
its own utility.
The density of population, as worked out in the above manner for each of the 22
States of India, is now available on the basis of the 1981 census results (vide
1 in 'Census of India 1981, Series 1—India, Part ll-A(i)—Genera! Population Tables').
The national average in this regard is 216 persons per km2. Among the States, the
density ranges from 45 in Sikkim to 655 in Kerala. But this being crude density, the
point arises as to whether one could think of a more refined index which would relate
to the 'carrying capacity' of the habitat. This capacity is determined by the availability
of food, cover, water and other essentials of life. It may be interesting to examine
whether the required natural resources, which would ensure supply of these
essentials of life to the human population, are available within the habitat. Food and
clothing are two of the most important basic needs of the human population. It may,
therefore, be appropriate to work out an index which will give us the population per
km2 of cropland (arable land). One of the tables, which is normally presented in the
Annual Statistical Abstract of the Indian Union (published by the Central Statistical
Organisation), does show utilisation of land for various purposes. We could take
'arable land' as the total of the following three classifications, viz., (1) not sown area,
(2) current fallows, and (3) other fallows. The annual abstract is now available for the
342 A. W. Mahatme
year 1982, and the information contained there in the table on 'land utilisation' should
serve our purpose. By relating the 1981 population to the area of 'arable land',
presented in the 1982 abstract, we arrived at the population per km2 of 'arable land' in
each of the 22 States. The result of the exercise is given in Table 1.
RANKING OF STATES OF INDIA ACCORDING TO DENSITY
Population Pressure in India 343
In Table 1, the States have been ranked initially in descending order of crude density.
The population that works out per km2 of arable land, which could perhaps be termed
'agricultural density', has then been shown. The ratio of agricultural density to crude
density has been worked out in column 5. In addition, an index of relative crowding,
which actually is the ratio of the agricultural density for the State to the
national average in this regard, multiplied by 100, has also been presented in column
6. The intention in doing so is to find out if the ranks of the various States would get
altered in any way if a comparison is made with respect to agricultural density, instead
of with respect to crude density. If the index for a State is greater than 100, the
situation in that State is one of overcrowding of population relative to the country as
a whole. It is the reverse when the index is less than 100.
It will be noticed, from the ranks indicated in col. 1 and in col. 7, respectively, of the
table, that the original ranks of the States, worked out according to crude density, do
get upset in the process to a considerable extent. Only two States maintain their
respective original ranks, viz., Kerala (1) and Meghalaya (19). But even in these cases,
the absolute figure of density worked out on the basis of area of arable land is much
higher. For Kerala it is 1.7 times, and for Meghalaya it is 4.4 times, the crude density.
As would be expected, the agricultural density is, in all cases, greater than the crude
density. In some cases, it is much greater. For instance, in the case of Manipur it is as
high as 15.9 times; in the case of Jammu & Kashmir it is 12.4 times; and in the case of
Sikkim it is 11.3 times.
Since housing is another of the important basic needs of the human population, one
could also study the variation in the density of occupancy, that is, the number of
occupants per room, from State to State. This should give a picture of the situation
prevailing in respect of the pressure of population on housing accommodation.
However, as far as this issue is concerned, it may be more relevant to examine it
separately for the rural and the urban areas. The data in this regard, forthcoming from
1981 census, have not been released as yet. We may, therefore, have to satisfy
ourselves with the 1971 census data. Even the 1971 data should be good enough for
our purpose, since the intention is only to obtain a comparative picture of the situation
prevailing in this regard in the various States. Table 2 presents a picture in this
regard for the rural areas and Table 3 for the urban areas.
In Tables 2 and 3 we have shown the average number of rooms per household for the
rural and urban areas, respectively, in each state. They also show average number of
occupants per room. The rank of each state, according to the latter average, has also
In the rural areas, the density of occupancy ranges from 2.18 in UP. to 4.21 in
Tripura. The first five ranks go to Tripura (4.21), West Bengal (3.83), Maharashtra
(3.78), Gujarat (3.77), and Sikkim (3.50). The last five ranks are taken by Bihar (2.50),
Himachal Pradesh (2.40), Orissa (2.29), Kerala (2.21) and UP. (2.18).
In the urban areas, the density of occupancy ranges from 1.99 in Himachal Pradesh to
3.88 in Tripura. The first five ranks go to Tripura (3.88), Maharashtra (3.37), West
Bengal (3.36), Gujarat (3.03) and Assam (2.90). The last five ranks are taken by
Manipur (2.17), Nagaland (2.12), Kerala (2.06), Jammu & Kashmir (2.02) and Himachal
344 A. W. Mahatme
The situation seems to be more or less similar in the rural and the urban areas in
regard to densities, as also in regard to ranks based thereon. For instance, Tripura,
West Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat, figure among the first five in both the rural
and the urban areas. Himachal Pradesh and Kerala figure among the last five in both
the rural and the urban areas.
DENSITY OF OCCUPANCY IN RURAL AREAS
Average no. of
Average no. of
to density in
1. Andhra Pradesh
6. Himachal Pradesh
7. Jammu & Kashmir
10. Madhya Pradesh
19. Tamil Nadu
21. Uttar Pradesh
22. West Bengal
Population Pressure in India 3 4 5
DENSITY OF OCCUPANCY IN URBAN AREAS
Average no. of
Average no. of
to density in
6. Himachal Pradesh
7. Jammu & Kashmir
10. Madhya Pradesh
19. Tamil Nadu
2 1 . Uttar Pradesh
22. West Bengal
346 A. W. Mahatme
A comparison of territories with reference to density of occupancy strictly requires
that a very precise definition of 'room' be prescribed for uniform adoption
everywhere. Practical difficulties will arise in the prescribed definition being applied
in the field by the enumerator. He may have to measure the dimensions of the rooms
in the occupation of a household he visits, which he may find rather difficult to do.
This density is thus not so suitable for discussion in census reports.
But it is a different matter with agricultural density, that is, population per km2 of
arable land. The country's statistical system does not provide for recording of annual
statistics of land use. Information as to the area of arable land should be available
from the annual statistical abstracts. Since agricultural density certainly appears to be
a more refined measure of population pressure than crude density, that is, population
per km2 of total geographic area, it may be more appropriate for the census hereafter
to present in its reports a discussion in regard to crowding of population in the
various States with reference to agricultural density, rather than with reference to
crude density. Alternatively, the census report may present both the figures and leave
it to the researcher to make use of the one he may consider more relevant for his
purpose. The report should also make available a comparison with other countries
with reference to agricultural density.
2. BIRTH CENTENARY OF THE LATE
DR. J. M. KUMARAPPA*
(April 16th, 1886 to April 16th, 1986)
The birth centenary of Dr. Kumarappa, former Director of the Institute, was observed
on April 18th, 1986. In honour of his memory, a meeting, chaired by Dr. (Miss)
Armaity S. Desai, Director, was held at the Institute. Tributes were paid by Professor
Dr. M. S. Gore (Retired Director of the Institute), Professor N. F. Kaikobad (Retired
Head, Department of Urban and Rural Community Development), Professor
J. J. Panakal (Retired Head, Department of Criminology and Correctional
Administration), and Professor L. S. Kudchedkar (Retired Head, Department of
Personnel Management and Industrial Relations). Professor Gore, Professor
Kaikobad and Professor Panakal were students of Dr. Kumarappa.
The observations made by these five speakers are summarised below:
recalled that Dr. Kumarappa collaborated in the preparatory work for
establishing the Institute with Dr. Clifford Manshardt, the first Director, even before
the inauguration of the training programme in June, 1936.
At that time, the idea of social work as a profession and of making a living by
professional social work, was non-existent. During the seventeen years Dr.
Kumarappa was with the Institute, he had to delineate the role of the profession not
only for students of social work but also for the community. He played an important
part in developing a good image of the profession.
The main vehicle, that did the immense job of carrying the message of what the
profession of social work stood for, was the Indian Journal of Social Work
of which he
was the Editor.
Dr. Kumarappa was a good communicator with an inimitable style in presenting ideas
systematically. A good leader at conferences, he knew how to present what was
needed for the profession. During his frequent visits abroad, he studied the trends in
social work education in other countries. However, his perspective was broader than
social case work which was the focus of social work at that time in the U.S.A.
Recalling how intervention and advice at a critical stage changed the course of his
professional life, Professor Kaikobad
mentioned that the lives of many have been
influenced by Dr. Kumarappa. As a man of peaceful strength, he took a fatherly
interest in all students, found out their potentialities, and helped some obtain
fellowships to study abroad. Dr. Kumarappa was essentially a team builder and, at a
time when programmes of faculty development were unknown, he planned the
careers and higher education abroad of his younger colleagues who were later
*This note was prepared by Professor J.J. Panakal based on the presentations at the meeting.
348 Birth Centenary of The Late Dr. J. M. Kumarappa
entrusted with the responsibility for newly created departments of the Institute.
During his visits to the U.S.A., he met the TISS alumini enrolled for advanced studies
there and helped them sort out what they would do on their return to India.
At the International Conference of Social Work at Atlantic City, U.S.A., in 1948, he
spoke on the development of social welfare as a precondition for peace for which he
received a standing ovation.
With single-minded devotion, Dr. Kumarappa helped cause-committed persons to
build up voluntary organisations. Though he was the leading founder who assisted
alumni of the Institute in establishing the Indian Conference of Social Work, now
known as the Indian Council of Social Welfare, he never sought election as an office-
bearer of the organisation.
Dr. Kumarappa never lost his temper even in the most trying circumstances as he had
a way of handling turbulent situations peacefully. Always he overcame problems
instead of allowing problems to overwhelm him.
referred to the immense contribution of Dr. Kumarappa which led
to the rich and variegated development of the Institute. He achieved real prominence
through his role as a professor, editor, administrator, and nominated member of the
Rajya Sabha. His teaching methods emphasised student participation and critical
A workaholic, flexible in his strategies, his educational goals were identical to those of
the institution. He always sought favourable opportunities to innovate and not merely
to replicate what was already created elsewhere. He had a remarkable capacity to
detect common ground with other individuals and institutions on which avenues of
collaboration could be built. Dr. Kumarappa was actively associated with international
organisations in social welfare and also with the work of the United Nations in social
welfare and related fields.
Dr. Kumarappa was methodically economical and motivated all to try to do a great
deal within the limited resources at the disposal of the Institute. He spent the most
productive period of his life at the Institute. Declining health forced him to retire but
what remained just hopes for the Institute in his time have become real achievements
Paying homage to Dr. Kumarappa, Professor Kudchedkar,
who, as Registrar had seen
Dr. Kumarappa at close quarters during the last phase of his work as Director of the
Institute, called attention to the fact that the birth centenary coincided with the
Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Dr. Kumarappa devoted attention to new fields of training such as Personnel
Management and Industrial Relations, Medical and Psychiatric Social Work, Family
and Child Welfare, Criminology and Correctional Administration and Community
Development. And he tried to solve partially the generic vs specialisation controversy
in social work education by planning to increase the duration of the postgraduate
training programmes from two to three years, to provide adequate time for class and
field instruction in generic and specialisation courses.
Birth Centenary of The Late Dr. J. M. Kumarappa 349
To begin with, a programme of two years and a half was offered to be extended to
three years. However, it did not take root and was subsequently reverted to two
Fastidious about the form and content of all written work, he was also economical and
abhorred the wasteful use of electricity and stationery. Expecting everyone on the
staff to assume responsibility for a variety of tasks, he worked hard and made others
work hard too. Those who associated with him were always impressed with his spirit
of dedication and devotion. The resolution adopted by the Governing Board at the
time of his retirement recorded that he had given his sweat and blood for the
development of the Institute.
Dr. Kumarappa was a true social worker, a born social worker. Today, to the younger
generation, Dr. Kumarappa is but a name, and to the older, he is a distant memory.
After Professor Gore, Professor Kaikobad, Professor Panakal and Professor
Kudchedkar narrated the legend that was Dr. Kumarappa, Dr. Desai
pointed out that it
was important to commemorate the work of a man who was so committed to what he
did in a humble and simple way.
Dr. Kumarappa played a significant role in the pioneering years and built up the image
of the Institute at national and international forums. He really believed in using the
media and published articles in a variety of journals to educate the public on social
problems and scientific social work, which have been preserved in albums in the
Institute along with those of his colleagues.
His contributions were many-sided including curriculum development, publications,
and field projects. He arranged for training abroad of hand-picked persons whom he
nurtured to head newly organised departments of the Institute.
Though, in the early fifties, he was criticised for shifting the Institute to Deonar, we
owe a lot to his foresight in developing a campus which provided space for growth.
The construction of the commodious buildings in Deonar was a life mission for him.
We are reaping the fruits of his labour and the Institute is what it is today because of
what he and others like him did in their lifetime.
While remembering him with great humility, we have to rededicate ourselves to the
objectives of the Institute, and to the ideals of the human service professions for
which training was offered at the Institute.