Q.11:- Give a quantitative appraisal of India’s demographic profile during the colonial period.
The demographic condition on the eve of independence was as follows:
- High Birth Rate and Death Rate. High birth rate and high death rate are treated as indices of backwardness of a country. Both birth rate and death rate were very high at 48 and 40 per thousand of persons res-pectively.
- High Infant Mortality Rate. If refers to death rate of children below the age of one year. It was about 18 per thousand live births.
- Low Life Expectancy. Life expectancy means the number of years that a new bom child on an average is expected to live. It was as low as 32 years.
- Mass Illiteracy. Mass illiteracy among the people of a country is taken as an indicator of its poverty and backwardness. The population census of 1941 (which was the last census under the British rule) estimated the literacy rate at 17 per cent. This means that 83 per cent of the total population was illiterate.
- Low Standard of Living. At the time of independence, people used to spend between 80 to 90 percent of their income on basic necessities, that is on food, clothing and housing. Even then, people did not get adequate quantity of food or clothing or housing and millions of people starved, went naked and lived in huts or in the open. Moreover, some parts of India came under severe famine conditions. The famines were so severe that millions died. One of the worst famines in India was the Bengal famine of 1943, when three million people died.