Society of India



Population per sq km: 4441

Life expectancy:  68 years

Net primary enrolment:  93% (2011)

Population: 1,311,050,000 (2015); world’s second-largest, after China; 33 per cent of people live in urban areas and 13 per cent in urban agglomerations of more than a million people; some 56 per cent of all Commonwealth people, and 18 per cent of all people, live in India; growth 1.2 per cent p.a. 1990–2015; birth rate 20 per 1,000 people (38 in 1970); life expectancy 68 years (29 in 1947 and 49 in 1970). By the late 1990s, 48 per cent of married women were using contraceptive methods.

The population of India is extremely diverse, comprising almost entirely peoples who have migrated from other parts of the world over previous millennia. Dravidian peoples, who came to India from the Mediterranean region some 5,000 years ago, now constitute about 25 per cent of the population and live predominantly in the southern states of India. Indo-Aryans, who account for more than 70 per cent of the population, came from Northern Europe 3,500–4,000 years ago. Later migrations include peoples from Central Asia and China.

Language: The main official languages are Hindi (spoken by 30 per cent of the population), and English (as laid down in the Constitution and Official Languages Act of 1963), but there are also 17 official regional languages, and many other languages. Language has been a major constitutional issue; the states have now been demarcated according to the main language of their populations. Other widely used languages include Urdu (spoken by most Muslims) and (in the north) Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Oriya, Punjabi; (in the south) Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam.

Religion: According to the most recent population census (2011) the population is made up of mainly Hindus (80.5 per cent), Muslims (13.4 per cent), Christians (2.3 per cent), Sikhs (1.9 per cent), and small amounts of Buddhists and Jains.

Media: The leading English-language dailies are The Asian Age (New Delhi), Deccan Herald (Bengaluru), The Hindu (Chennai), Hindustan Times (New Delhi), The Indian Express (New Delhi), The Pioneer (New Delhi), The Statesman (Kolkata) and The Times of India (Mumbai), and India Today and Outlook are weekly news magazines. There are thousands of daily newspapers published in some 90 languages.

From 1992, private TV channels have been permitted and from 2000, private radio stations. Doordarshan provides a broad rangeof public TV services. The national, public All India Radio is the only radio network authorised to broadcast news; it also operates an external service, in 17 Indian and ten foreign languages.

Some 47 per cent of households have TV sets (2011). There are 32 personal computers per 1,000 people (2007).

Public holidays: The following are universally observed: Republic Day (26 January), Independence Day (15 August) and Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday (2 October).

Religious and other festivals, of which the observance varies between regions and religions, are: Prophet’s Birthday, Holi (February/March), Good Friday, Ram Navami (March/April), Mahavir’s Birthday (March/April), Buddha Purnima (April/May), Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan), Janamashtami (August/September), Dussehra (October/November), Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), Diwali (October/November), Muharram (Islamic New Year), Guru Nanak’s Birthday (November) and Christmas Day (25 December). Those without specific dates vary from year to year.