India is the second most populous country in the world and is expected to move around China in 2030. Population density varies widely – from the Himalayan sparsely populated mountain ranges in the north to the overpopulated West Bengal in the east. Few countries have such a mix of peoples as India.
In May 2000, India crossed the symbolically charged border of one billion residents. In 2017, the population was estimated at SEK 1.34 billion. About 25 million Indians live abroad, many of them in the United States and the United Kingdom.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of India, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
Two thirds of the population lives in rural areas in more than 600,000 villages. The rest live in about 200 cities and larger communities with ever-expanding multi-million cities like Bombay (Mumbai), Delhi and Bangalore. However, immigration to the cities is high; in 2030, 40-50 percent of the population is believed to live in cities.
With a median age of 28, India has a young population but this is slowly changing, partly because the Indians live longer than before. Women are fewer than men because of the higher mortality rates among girls, partly as a result of childbirth. In addition, many girl fetuses are aborted even though it is illegal to separate them.
Many attempts have been made over the decades to stop or reduce population growth. In the 1970s, all family planning programs happened in disarray, when even forced sterilization occurred. The attempts to propagate for “one family – one child” have had little impact, especially among the rural population. There, many children are seen as a guarantee of being taken care of on old days. Just over half of all women of childbearing age are expected to use some form of birth control.
Lots of people
Over the course of history, a number of ethnic groups have migrated, settled and mingled with the resident population. Between India’s different peoples, there are at least as much linguistic and cultural differences as between the peoples of Europe.
Four major groups can be distinguished, which together make up the majority of the population. The oldest are probably the mouthpieces, who live scattered throughout the country.
The Dravids probably immigrated from the northwest in prehistoric times. They had trade relations with Persia, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Arabia. They were farmers but also – at least occasionally – urban builders. Their property was often inherited from mother to daughter. Even today, Dravidian women have a freer position than many other women in India. When the Indo-Europeans (see below) invaded the country, the Dravids were forced south and now populate the four south Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. When you speak of South India today or say that a person is a South Indian, one of, or any of, these four states.
The Indo-Europeans or Aryans came from the northwest in the 16th century BC. They were livestock nomads. With them the son inherited the father. They practiced a sacrificial religion whose sacred script, Rig Veda, was written in Sanskrit. Today’s North Indian (Indo-European) languages all originate from Sanskrit.
The smallest group of people is the Tibetan Burmese, who mainly live in the border areas in the north and northeast. In addition, there are tribal people (adivasi). They live scattered, often in difficult to reach areas.
Hundreds of languages
In India, around 300 languages and about 1000 dialects are spoken. The boundary between language and dialect is sometimes unclear. The language is central to Indian identity and the language issues have therefore often been infected and led to contradictions.
The languages in northern India are for the most part the Indian language family with Hindi as the largest language. In the four southern states, mainly Dravidian languages are spoken, mainly Tamil (in Tamil Nadu), Malayalam (Kerala), Telugu (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana) and Kannada (Karnataka). The different languages often use their own writing characters.
Hindi is considered a state language. About 30 percent of the population has Hindi as their mother tongue. The constitution gives official status to Hindi and 21 other languages, mainly the majority languages in the states but also the classical cultural language Sanskrit. The state reforms in the 1950s and 1960s mainly followed the language boundaries according to the principle “a state – a language”. However, this has in turn led to protests among minority peoples against their languages being suppressed by the language of the state majority.
English’s position is controversial. English would be the official language only during a transition period after independence from the British in 1947, but fierce opposition in southern India to Hindi as the only state language has allowed the English to remain as the official “auxiliary language” in administration and business as well as between different language areas. Many schools use the so-called trilingual system, where in addition to a regional dialect, they also teach Hindi and English.
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FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
Indo-Europeans, Dravids, mouthpieces, Tibetan Burmese people
Number of residents
1339 180 127 (2017)
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
33.6 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
19.0 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
7.3 per 1000 residents (2016)
1.1 percent (2017)
2.3 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
48.2 percent (2017)
69 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
70 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
67 years (2016)
There are about 300 different languages; Hindi is state language, English is officially auxiliary language, 21 other languages (mainly the majority languages in the states) also have official status
The caste system
Although the caste system has never been recognized in the Indian constitution – and despite slowly being loosened up among the middle class in the cities – it still largely determines the social, political and professional affiliation of the Indians.
Sanskrit and the modern Indian languages have two words for “caste”: warn, which means color, and jati, which means birth.
When the Aryans invaded India during the 16th century BC, they were divided into clans. They had lighter skin tones than the people who already lived in the area and tried to avoid interfering with other people by not marrying non-Aryans. Scientists believe that this is how the system of different casts came to be developed. Among the Aryans there were four warnings: priests (Brahmans), warriors (kshatriya), craftsmen (vaishya) and servants and workers (shudra).
These four castes have existed since the 9th century BC and the division into four classes or classes is well known from many other Indo-European cultures (for example in Sweden). Especially for India, however, the four warnings came to be perceived as different in terms of ritual purity (see Religion). According to the doctrine of karma and reincarnation, one is born into a warning depending on one’s past deeds.
Within each alert there are several jati, or sub-castes, which are often associated with a profession or geographical area. The several thousand jati are the most important in today’s caste system, while the most cautionary is of theoretical significance. Different jati within the same alert may have intricate rules for which other jati they can marry or dine with.
People outside the warning system are called chandala or harijans. The latter term was coined by Mahatma Gandhi and means “child of God”. The official designation on them is ” scheduled castes “. In daily speech, they prefer to call themselves Dalits, “the oppressed”. They have no warning, only jati, and are traditionally considered untouchable by high-caste Hindus, that is, Hindus belonging to a warning. The Dalits belong to several different jati, who can practice immobility among themselves. By contrast, the Dalits are not castless. Only some serious criminals, who have been excluded from their jati, as well as foreigners, are throwaway in the true sense of the word. An individual can never change alert or jati but within a few generations a whole jati can change status.
Contested positive discrimination
Nowadays, it is prohibited by law to discriminate against anyone because of caste membership. However, this does not prevent, for example, dalits from being treated badly. The state practices positive discrimination, that is, quoting places for Dalits for, among other things, higher education and government positions, which sometimes led to protests. When choosing political candidates, one often takes into account locally important castes, including the Dalits. However, the quotation is not only good, as it also helps to strengthen the caste system.
In the large census 2010–2011, despite extensive criticism, the government decided, for the first time since 1931, to include information on the residents’ throwing belongings during the pretext, thereby making it easier to make improvements for the low castes.
During the 2010s, members of higher castes held a series of protests against the positive special treatment of low castes. They have demanded that their castes also be able to be quoted for government jobs and higher education. In the state of Haryana north of Delhi, around 10 people were killed in 2016 when members of the caste jat conducted such demonstrations. In Gujarat, the state government introduced a new quota system that year following protests from the higher caste patidar. The system guarantees that 10 percent of government positions and higher study places go to low-income earners, regardless of caste affiliation.
At the same time, several counter-demonstrations have been held by Dalits who believe that the law governing their right to positive discrimination (Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Act) has been eroded by courts and political decisions.