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Beyond Population Projections: Growing North-South Disparity

This article analyses the trends in the population projections made by the registrar general of India for the years 2001-26. It finds several disturbing trends, for example, in the sex ratio, infant mortality rate, and disproportionate population growth in certain key states in the north.


Beyond PopulationProjections: GrowingNorth-South Disparity


Economic and Political WeeklyApril 14, 20071328the registrar general estimates, that anincrease of “187 million is likely to occurin seven states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh,Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan,Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand (termed asBIMARU states)”. (In this article, the termnorth, wherever used, means these states.)Incidentally, I had coined the termBIMARU for the states of Bihar, MadhyaPradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh topinpoint India’s demographic malady asfar back as 1985 when I was asked to briefthe then prime minister on India’s familyplanning programme. It is unfortunate thatthe BIMARU states continue to be BIMARU(the acronym suggests the Hindi word for“sick”) even today and what is worse,thesestates will continue to be BIMARU evenafter 25 years, as per the registrar general’sprojections. I must emphasise that myacronym refers only to demographic sick-ness. I concede that of late, Rajasthan andMadhya Pradesh have made some progresson the economic front but unfortunately,on the demographic front, they continueto be BIMARU, as is evident from therecently published provisionaldata fromthe National Family Health Survey (NFHS)3rd round conducted in 2005-06.Growing Demographic DivideSpace does not permit me to spell out themajor implications of the population projec-tions and NFHS-3 data but let me state mymajor conclusion: the demographic scenein India as evident from the official popu-lation projections and the NFHS-3 dataclearly indicate India’s growing north-southdivide. This has far reaching demographic,economic, social and political implications.In passing, it may be recalled that the 42ndconstitutional amendment had frozen thenumber of representatives in the Lok Sabhaon the basis of the 1971 Census population.Initially, the freeze was up to 2001 but asper the National Population Policy of 2000,the freeze was extended till the year 2026.By that year, if this freeze is not extendedbeyond2026, and, as a result, if parlia-mentary seats are determined by the popu-lation of states as per the most recent census,the dominant role of Uttar Pradesh in India’snational politics will further increasebecause of its dismaldemographic record!From population projections, we moveon to the NFHS-3 (2005-06) and presentsome data in support of our thesis on India’sgrowing demographic divide. Table 1 showsthat in the erstwhile BIMARU states, thepopulation is expected to grow by 44 percent while in the southern states the com-parable figure is only 21 per cent, ie, thegrowth rate in the BIMARU states will bemore than double that of the southern states.Table 2 shows that the erstwhileBIMARU states, which accounted for 41.1per cent of India’s total population in 2001,will account for 43.5 per cent in2026. Thishas tremendous political implications. Italso shows that the shareof BIMARU statesin the absolute increase in India’s popu-lation during 2001-26 will be of the orderof 50.4 per cent while the share of the southwill be only 12.6 per cent. It means thatthe good progress in family planning in thesouthern states cannot compensate for theslow progress of family planning in thenorthern states in bringing about popula-tion stabilisation. This will considerablydelay the target date for populationstabilisation because of the weightage ofthe BIMARU states.Table 3 based on the RGI’s report showsthat by 2005, all the four southernstatesmust have achieved TFR of 2.1. By2021-25, the TFR in all these states isexpected to be 1.8.In contrast, the BIMARU states are lag-ging behind. Uttar Pradesh is expected toachieve the magic figure of 2.1 only by2027.It will still have a TFR of 2.6 during2021-25. If UP, the most populous statein India, lags far behind, India’s prospectsof population stabilisation will bebleak.The hilly state of Uttaranchal (now calledUttarakhand), which was carved out of UttarPradesh, has a much better record than UP’s.Another hilly state, Himachal Pradesh, hasan even better record on the demographicTable 2: Growing Demographic Disparitybetween North and SouthPer CentPer CentPerCentofofofShare in theIndia’sIndia’sIncreasePop inPop inin Pop of20012026India2001-26India100.0100.0100.0North (BIMARU states)Bihar8.18.18.3MP5.96.37.4Rajasthan5.55.86.7UP16.217.822.3Jharkhand2.62.72.8Chhattisgarh2.02.02.1Uttarakhand0.80.80.9Subtotal41.143.550.4SouthKerala3.12.71.5Tamil Nadu6.15.12.5Karnataka5.14.83.8AP7.46.74.8Subtotal21.719.312.6Source: Based on RGI’s projections.Table 3: Road to Population Stabilisation:(Year by Which TFR of 2.1 Will BeAchieved/Was Achieved)YearProjected Levelof TFR in2021-25(1)(2)(3)India20152.0North (BIMARU states)Bihar20212.0Jharkhand20182.0Madhya Pradesh20252.2Chhattisgarh20222.1Rajasthan20212.0Uttar Pradesh20272.6Uttarakhand20222.1SouthKerala19881.8Tamil Nadu20001.8Andhra Pradesh20021.8Karnataka20051.8Note:Column 2 of this table was given in theearlier report. It is presumed that AndhraPradesh achieved TFR of 2.1 by 2002 andKarnataka by 2005.Source:RGI,Revised Report on PopulationProjections, New Delhi, December, 2006,pp 6 and 25.Table 4: Some Key Indicators from NFHS-3, (2005-06)Rural IMRRural TFRContraceptiveInstitutionalEver MarriedUse (Rural)BirthsWomen (15-49)(Per Cent)(Rural)WhoAre(Per Cent)Anaemic(Rural)(Per Cent)India623. (BIMARU states)Bihar634.231.418.668.2MP763.354.120.261.0Rajasthan653.640.523.354.9UP754.139.717.550.8Jharkhand733.728.211.073.7Chhattisgarh752.949.97.559.4Uttarakhand502.757.228.648.8SouthKerala142.068.599.332.4Tamil Nadu371.962.086.753.9Andhra Pradesh641.867.760.563.7Karnataka472.265.456.752.5Source:NFHS-3 Fact Sheets for India and states (provisional data), 2007.

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