Resources Research

Making local sense of food, urban growth, population and energy

Posts Tagged ‘Pune

Sizing up rural and urban settlements in Maharashtra

leave a comment »

rg_maharashtra_districts_builtup_201610The districts of Jalna, Osmanabad, Hingoli, Satara, Ratnagiri, Washim, Nandurbar, Gondiya, Gadchiroli and Sindhudurg in Maharashtra all enjoy a rural built-up to urban built-up ratio of more than 2 (where the built-up area of the district’s rural settlements are at least twice the area of its urban settlements).

In the chart, the light green bars show a district’s rural built-up area, the light maroon its urban built-up area. The number associated with the name of the district is the ratio between the two kinds of built-up area.

Such a comparison helps us understand the dependency of the two kinds of populations in a district, rural and urban, upon the natural resources (as classified by land types). The chart shows us that some districts (see Jalgaon, Sholapur, Satara and Ratnagiri) have total rural built-up areas of 150 square kilometres and above. But whereas the urban built-up areas of Jalgaon and Sholapur are more than 100 sq km each this is not so for the other two districts.

Districts may have similar ratios between rural and urban built-up areas – see Ahmednagar, Akola and Dhule – but whereas the built-up areas of both types are more than 100 sq km in Ahmednagar they are smaller in the other two districts. There are only three districts for which the total rural built-up area is less than 50 sq km: Parbhani, Hingoli ad Washim.

There are 15 districts in which there is at least 1.5 sq km of rural built-up area for 1 sq km of urban built-up and this indicates that in these districts the base of agricultural and allied activities is still strong and therefore needs continuous encouragement. There are 7 districts for which this ratio is between 1.5 and 1 and these therefore must be watched for signs of quickening urbanisation which will need to be curbed in the interests of sustainability and indeed of the provision of food.

I have taken the data from the land use and land change information for 2011-12 collected by the Resourcesat-2 satellite with land classification and calculation carried out by the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Department of Space, under the Natural Resources Census Project of the National Natural Resources Repository Programme. It is available through Bhuvan, the geo-platform of ISRO.

Urban areas are non-linear built-up areas covered by impervious structures adjacent to or connected by streets. This class includes residential areas, mixed built-up, recreational places, public and private utilities, communications, commercial areas, reclaimed areas, vegetated areas within urban zones, transportation infrastructure, industrial areas and their dumps, and ash/cooling ponds. Rural built-up areas are the lands used for human settlement in which the majority of the population is involved in agriculture. These are built-up areas, small in size, mainly associated with agriculture and allied sectors and non-commercial activities. They can be seen in clusters both non-contiguous and scattered.

The last 4 districts – Nagpur, Nashik, Thane and Pune – have their urban built-up bars coloured differently to indicate that their scales are beyond, and very much above, the 150 sq km of the chart. Mumbai city and suburban is omitted entirely.

Workers in their districts

with one comment

What has changed in the numbers of Maharashtra’s workers over ten years, over the period marked by the recordings of two censuses, 2001 and 2011?

This experimental chart shows us the flow and accumulation in Maharashtra of what the Census calls ‘total workers’, and by this the Census enumerators mean those who said they have employment (or have worked for themselves) for more than six months, and those who have had work (or wages) for less than six months. These two divisions are called ‘main’ and ‘marginal’.


Click for an interactive chart

The difference between these two descriptors of working status may be more grey than black-and-white, for the Census records how much time is spent working and not how much is earned (and saved and spent) as payment for that time spent. Hence, a ‘main’ worker who has been employed for 7 to 8 months of the year may have earned through wages, salaries or commissions just as much as a ‘marginal’ worker did by working for 5 months.

This is only to show that ‘workers’ as counted by a Census can be interpreted in a variety of ways, and for those wanting to get a fuller and richer view of the matter, it is best to read the Census data as a layer above or below one or two other sources of data, such as the NSSO and the results of a field study for example in a district.

What then do the districts of Maharashtra tell us? First, that the number of workers increased between 2001 and 2011 in most but not all districts, and that those districts with the largest increases in numbers were Thane (1.312 million more, 41.28% more), Pune (1.094 million more, 37.05% more), Mumbai Suburban (0.582 million more, 18.48% more), Nashik (0.577 million more, 26.43% more), and Aurangabad (0.398 million more, 33.84% more). There are also Beed with 31.12% more workers and Jalna with 29.85% more workers.

Next, that Mumbai and Mumbai Suburban, together with Thane and Pune, have 13.56 million total workers which is 27% of all Maharashtra’s workers! That is a concentration of numbers, but it tells us nothing about the conditions they work in, whether they are paid adequately to support a family and household (the major unions have been asking for a national minimum floor wage of Rs 10,000 for two years now) and whether these earners receive as is their right workers’ benefits. That is why we try as much as is possible to read the invaluable account of India and its districts and villages as described by the Census together with other sources and studies.

The big money in India’s cities

with 3 comments

Almost seven out of ten rupees banked in India are to be found in the top 100 centres. They account for 68.5% of the total bank deposits in India.

Almost seven out of ten rupees banked in India are to be found in the top 100 centres. They account for 68.5% of the total bank deposits in India.

The concentration of the country’s bank deposits in India’s urban centres can be seen in this detail from a table I have assembled using data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

This is the quarterly series that the RBI puts out and is called ‘Quarterly Statistics on Deposits and Credit of Scheduled Commercial Banks’.

The intriguing table which forms the image is of the top 100 urban centres ranked by bank deposits, and arranged alphabetically, for the years 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. The city names and total deposits (in crore rupees) are seen. This is the lower end of the table, and I have coloured ten cities to show how their deposits have changed over six years.

The rate of growth has been extremely steep. We have here Panaji, Patiala, Pune, Ranchi, Shillong, Thane, Thiruvananthapuram, Udaipur, Varanasi and Visakhapatnam for no reason other than their entries for all four years are visible. The patterns for the rest of the top 100 centres is generally the same.

For these ten cities, the average growth rate of their total bank deposits over these six years is 190%! This is most significant to us, especially considering the food inflation, the cost of cultivation, wage rates of agricultural labour and allied issues I write about in this diary. Have the wage rates for agricultural labour grown over these last six years at even one-third this average rate? Not at all.

RG-bank_urban_deposits_detailFrom this small set of ten cities alone, the lowest rate of growth of total bank deposits is 88% (Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh) and the highest is 249% (Thane in Maharashtra).

The progression of the size of total deposits can be seen from Shillong (in Meghalaya) from Rs 2,577 crore in 2007 to Rs 8,311 crore in 2013 (which is dwarfed by the others). In Ranchi (Jharkhand) total bank deposits have grown from Rs 6,436 crore in 2007 to Rs 21,688 crore in 2013!

That is why the top 100 centres accounted for 68.5% of the total bank deposits in India – this is a ratio that has remained roughly the same for the last six years. In addition, as the ‘Quarterly Statistics’ has noted in its highlights, the top 100 centres also accounted for 76.9% of total bank credit.

And that is why it means little for central and state governments, and for businesses and NGOs and social entrepreneurships to talk about ‘financial inclusion’ when we have proof – quarter after quarter – of the persistence of financial inequality between India and Bharat.

India in 2015 – 63 million-plus cities

with 3 comments

RG_new_city_marks2The 27 cities shown on this map are no different from many others like them in India today, and the selection of these 27 is based solely on a single numerical milestone which I am fairly sure few of each city’s citizens (or administrations for that matter) will have marked.

On some day during the months since March 2011, the population of each of these 27 cities has crossed 150,000 – this is the criterion. March 2011 is the month to which the Census 2011 has fixed its population count, for the country, for a state, a district, a town.

And so these 27 cities share one criterion – which they be quite unaware of – which is that when their inhabitants were enumerated for the 2011 census, their populations were under 150,000 whereas in the four years since that mark has been crossed.

[You will find more on the theme of population, the Census of India 2011 and urban and rural population growth here: ‘So very many of us’, ‘To localise and humanise India’s urban project’, ‘The slowing motion of India’s quick mobility’, ‘The urbanised middle class symphony’. Thematic and state-wise links to direct data files can be found at: ‘India’s 2011 census, a population turning point’ and ‘India’s 2011 census, the states and their prime numbers’.]

When the provisional results of the Census of India 2011 were released, through the year 2011, the number of cities with populations of a million and over was 53.

The number of cities with over a million inhabitants, from 53 in 2013 to 63 in 2015. Cities with names in red type will reach a million in 2015.

The number of cities with over a million inhabitants, from 53 in 2013 to 63 in 2015. Cities with names in red type will reach a million in 2015.

That was the tally almost two years ago. Between the 2011 census and the 2001 census the growth rate of the urban population was 31.8% which, turned into a simple annual rate for those ten years, is just under 3.2% per year.

At this rate, in mid-2013, six more cities will have joined the list of those with a population of over a million.

These six cities are: Mysore (in Karnataka, estimated population of 1,046,469), Bareilly (in Uttar Pradesh, 1,042,257), Guwahati (in Assam, 1,030,149), Tiruppur (in Tamil Nadu, 1,024,228), Sholapur (in Maharashtra, 1,011,609) and Hubli-Dharwad (in Karnataka, 1,003,886).

Within the next few months, India will have 59 cities with populations of over a million.

By mid-2015 (the final year of the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs), there will be another four cities with populations of over a million: Salem (in Tamil Nadu, estimated population of 1,036,066), Aligarh (in Uttar Pradesh, 1,025,255), Gurgaon (in Haryana, 1,016,698) and Moradabad (in Uttar Pradesh, 1,002,994).

That year, Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Thrissur (Kerala) and Vadodara (Gujarat) will have populations of over two million; the populations of Kanpur and Lucknow (both Uttar Pradesh) will cross three million and that of Surat (Gujarat) will cross five million. India will have 63 (ten more than in 2011) cities with populations of at least a million.

These are projections that have not taken into account the state-wise variations of rural and urban growth rates. Also not accounted for is migration, as the migration data from Census 2011 has yet to be released.

India’s 2011 Census, a population turning point

with 30 comments


With most of the final data tables now available, I am now (2015 November) consolidating and reorganising this extensive article about the Census of India 2011. This will take the following forms: (1) links to and explanations about the main data categories, (2) links to the sections containing detailed tables, forms, past censuses, geographical codes and administrative maps, (3) listings by state and union territory of the tables available in the main data categories, (4) analytical matter about demographics and trends.

1.1 Main categories – Primary Census Abstract data

Primary Census Abstract Data Highlights, 2011 (India/States/UTs) Primary Census Abstract Data Tables (India/States/UTs – District Level) Primary Census Abstract Data Tables (India/States/UTs – Town/Village/Ward Level)
Primary Census Abstract Data C.D. Block Wise Primary Census Abstract Data for Houseless (India/States/UTs – District Level)(xls) Primary Census Abstract Data for Scheduled Castes (SC) (India/States/UTs – District Level)(xls)
Primary Census Abstract Data for Scheduled Tribes (ST) (India/States/UTs – District Level)(xls) Primary Census Abstract Data for Slum (India/States/UTs – Town Level)(xls) Individual Scheduled Caste Primary Census Abstract Data (with Appendix)
Individual Scheduled Tribe Primary Census Abstract Data (with Appendix) Introduction to Individual SC/ST Primary Census Abstract Data (pdf) Primary Census Abstract Data for Others (India/States/UTs)(xls)
Introduction to Primary Census Abstract Data for Others (pdf) Decadal Variation In Population Since 1901 Introduction to Decadal Variation In Population Since 1901 (pdf)
Primary Census Abstract for Female-Headed Households (India/States/UTs – District Level)(Total, SC/ST)

Please now refer to these links. Sections that will shortly be added here are: Villages By Population, Age Data, Data on Disability, Data on Education, Data on Religion, Data on Scheduled Castes, Data on Scheduled Tribes, Household Series, Data on workers, Data On Marital Status, Fertility Data, Post Enumeration Survey, Miscellaneous Tables.


1.2 Household series data

Normal Households By Household Size (Total, SC/ST, City) Houseless Households By Household Size (Total, City) Households with number of aged persons 60 years and above by sex and household size (Total, City)
Households By marital Status, sex and age of the head of household (Total, City) Households By Number Of Literates Among The Members Of Household Age 7 Years And Above (Total, SC/ST) Households With At Least One Member Age 15 And Above And With Or Without Educational Level Matriculation And Above By Household Size (India/States/UTs – District Level)
Households with number of workers by household size (Total, SC/ST) Households By Size And Number Of Members Seeking / Available For Work (India/States/UTs) Households By number of disabled persons and household size (India/States/UTs)(xls)

The household tables and the primary census abstract tables will shortly be cross-referenced with states and union territories. This will make it easier to find and get directly the spreadsheets with district-level data.


1.3 Workers (main, marginal, education, activity, gender)

Main workers, marginal workers, non-workers and those marginal workers, non-workers seeking/available for work classified by age and gender (Total, SC/ST) By city: main workers, marginal workers, non-workers and those marginal workers, non-workers seeking/available for work classified by age and gender (xls) Main workers, marginal workers, non-workers and those marginal workers, non-workers seeking/ available for work classified by educational level and gender (India / states/UTs / district)(Total, SC/ST)
Main workers by educational level, age and gender (India / States/UTs / district) Marginal workers by main non-economic activity, age and gender (Total, SC/ST) Non-workers by main activity, age and gender (Total, SC/ST)
Non-workers by main activity, educational level and gender (India / states/UTs /district) Marginal workers and non workers seeking/available for work classified by educational level, age and gender (India / states/UTs /district) ‘Other Workers’ by distance from residence to place of work and mode of travel to place of work (India / states/UTs / district)


1.4 Education (7 and above, 15 and above, by institution, gender)

Educational level by age and sex for population age 7 and above (total, SC/ST) (India / states/UTs / district) By city: educational level by age and sex for population age 7 and above (xls) Educational level graduate and above by gender for population age 15 and above (Total, SC/ST) (India / states/UTs / district)
By city: educational level graduate and above by gender for population age 15 and above (xls) Population attending educational institutions by age, gender and type of educational institution (Total, SC/ST) (India / states/UTs / district) By city: population attending educational institutions by age, gender and type of educational institution (xls)
Population attending educational institution by completed education level, age and gender (India / states/UTs / district) Non-workers by main activity, educational level and gender (India / states/UTs / district) Marginal workers and non-workers seeking/available for work classified by educational level, age and gender (India / states/UTs / district)

The older material is appended below and continues to serve as a useful guide to the many aspects of the Census of India 2011, the world’s largest and most detailed population enumeration, which informs us about the people of Bharat from the largest metropolis to the smallest rural hamlet.



Major update, 2014 November – It has been three years since regular releases of data from Census 2011 began. As the major data sets have been placed in the public domain, the Census of India website has changed to accommodate the new demands.

Here are the new links for final population totals, and for the major tables in the census:

Primary Census Abstract Data for Houseless (India & States/UTs – District Level, Excel)
Primary Census Abstract Data for Scheduled Tribes (SC) (India & States/UTs – District Level, Excel)
Primary Census Abstract Data for Scheduled Tribes (ST) (India & States/UTs – District Level, Excel)
Primary Census Abstract Data for Slum (India & States/UTs – Town Level, Excel)
Primary Census Abstract Data Highlights – 2011 (new page for India and States/UTs)
Primary Census Abstract Data Tables (new page for India and States/UTs – District Level, Excel)
Primary Census Abstract Data Tables (new page for India and States/UTs – Town/Village/Ward Level)
Primary Census Abstract Data for Others (India & States/UTs, Excel)
Brief Introduction to Primary Census Abstract Data for Others (pdf)
Decadal Variation In Population Since 1901 (new page)
Brief Introduction to A-2 Decadal Variation In Population Since 1901 (pdf)
Individual Scheduled Caste Primary Census Abstract Data and its Appendix (new page)
Individual Scheduled Tribe Primary Census Abstract Data and its Appendix (new page)
Brief Introduction to Individual SC / ST Primary Census Abstract Data and its appendix (pdf)

20140304Major update – Extensive new data tables have been made available for public use by the Census of India. These include: (1) Primary Census Abstract tables to the village and ward level, (2) consolidated top level datasheets for Population Enumeration Data, population living in villages, age data, and data on disability.

Here they are:

[Set 1] Primary Census Abstract Data (Final Population); Primary Census Abstract Data for Houseless (India & States/UTs – District Level) ; Primary Census Abstract Data for Scheduled Castes (SC) (India & States/UTs – District Level) ; Primary Census Abstract Data for Scheduled Tribes (ST) (India & States/UTs – District Level) ; Primary Census Abstract Data for Slum (India & States/UTs – Town Level) ; Primary Census Abstract Data Highlights – 2011 (India & States/UTs) ; Primary Census Abstract Data Tables (India & States/UTs – District Level) ; Primary Census Abstract Data Tables (India & States/UTs – Town/Village/Ward Level).

[Set 2] Villages By Population ; Village population Tables ; Percentage of population living in villages of various population size with reference to the total rural population: 2011 ; Percentage of villages and population by class of villages in 2001 and 2011 ; Statement showing the number of Villages of population 10,000 and above with their population: 2001-2011 ; Distribution of 10,000 villages of each class in All India and 10,000 population in each class of villages All India among the States and Union Territories.

[Set 3] Single Year Age Data – (India/States/UTs) ; Single Year Age Data for Scheduled Castes (SC) ; Single Year Age Data for Scheduled Tribes (ST) ; Five Year Age Group Data ; Five Year Age Data for Scheduled Castes (SC) ; Five Year Age Data for Scheduled Castes (ST).

[Set 4] Disabled Population by type of Disability, Age and Sex (India & States/UTs – District Level) ; Disabled Population by type of Disability, Age and Sex For Scheduled Castes (India & States/UTs – District Level) ; Disabled Population by type of Disability, Age and Sex For Scheduled Tribes (India & States/UTs – District Level).

20131213Major update – And so to the numbers.

On old maps and dusty histories, our villages have formed the reliable background against which to describe empire and freedom. Many of the names in the humblest level of description found in Census 2011 can be traced back over generations.

On old maps and dusty histories, our villages have formed the reliable background against which to describe empire and freedom. Many of the names in the humblest level of description found in Census 2011 can be traced back over generations.

There are 43,264 in Rajasthan, there are 25,372 in Assam and there are 40,959 in Maharashtra. That’s the village count in these states and this count (and the way villages are dispersed in the districts based on the size of their populations) is the focus of the latest data release from Census 2011.

Can there be an ‘average’ count for district? Yes there can, but finding one has little real use especially for the district concerned. Even so, to help us better understand the way a district is (and has for most of our recorded history) been organised I have used the data to find such an ‘average’. From the set of 631 districts that have villages (the others have none, being fully urban in character) I extracted the middle 505 districts (their villages count was from 138 to 1,817) and the median is 817 – that is, 817 villages in an ‘average’ district.

Where can we find such districts? Here are twelve: Garhwa in Jharkhand with 844, Rajkot in Gujarat with 833, Parbhani in Maharashtra with 830, Barpeta in Assam with 825, Mainpuri in Uttar Pradesh with 820, Ashoknagar in Madhya Pradesh with 818, Rangareddy in Andhra Pradesh with 817, Raichur in Karnataka with 815, Sitamarhi in Bihar with 808, Kota in Rajasthan with 805, Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu with 799 and Una in Himachal Pradesh with 790.

The new set of data released by Census 2011 has: (1) a note on villages by population, (2) tables by district and by taluka / tahsil / block (excel file), (3) percentage of population living in villages of various population size with reference to the total rural population in 2011, (4) percentage of villages and population by class of villages in 2001 and 2011, (5) the number of villages whose populations are 10,000 and above, 2001-2011, (6) distribution of 10,000 villages of each class, all-India, and 10,000 population in each class of villages, all-India, among states and union territories.

RG_census2011_small_map_sections_20131220130903Major update – The ‘primary census abstract’ is the most important record for a settlement, whether a rural hamlet or an urban town ward. This contains the population, gender ratio, literacy rate, proportion of children, the numbers of scheduled tribe and caste members, and also contains the four-fold break-up of the working population. Please see ‘The data vault of the 2011 Indian Census‘ for full and comprehensive data sheets.

20130501Very major update – The Census of India has released the first data batch of the primary census abstract. This release of the PCA is detailed down to district level and you will find more information, and individual data for states and union territories here.

20120229Info update – A documentary film on the Census of India 2011 has been released. The shorter version of the film is available on YouTube and is worth watching also for its scenes of contemporary village and urban India – lots of ethnic diversity and very colourful. The film was produced by the National Film Development Corporation and documents the Census process.

20111021Major update – The urban-rural population data release.

This is an extremely important data set for planners and administrators in the major ministries and of course for all those in social sector fields. The new group of data files lists all the districts, their total population with rural and urban components, the population of the 0-to-six years age group and the population of literates, in all cases by male and female.

The text that follows is taken from the ‘data highlights’ file which provides a very good overview of the scope of this data release. You will also find a set of links to the pdf and xls files released by the Census 2011.

Census 2011 lists 7,935 towns in India. The number of towns has increased by 2,774 since the last Census (2001). Many of these towns are part of urban agglomerations and the rest are independent towns. The total number of urban agglomerations/towns, which constitutes the urban frame, is 6,166 in all states and union territories.

Population of UAs/Towns:
1. The total urban population in the country as per Census 2011 is more than 377 million constituting 31.16% of the total population.
2. Class I UAs/Towns: The UAs/Towns are grouped on the basis their population in Census. The UAs/Towns which have at least 1,00,000 persons as population are categorised as Class I UA/Town. At the Census 2011, there are 468 such UAs/Towns. The corresponding number in Census 2001 was 394.
3. 264.9 million persons, constituting 70% of the total urban population, live in these Class I UAs/Towns. The proportion has increased considerable over the last Census. In the remaining classes of towns the growth has been nominal.
4. Million Plus UAs/Towns: Out of 468 UAs/Towns belonging to Class I category, 53 UAs/Towns each has a population of one million or above each. Known as Million Plus UAs/Cities, these are the major urban centres in the country. 160.7 million persons (or 42.6% of the urban population) live in these Million Plus UAs/Cities.18 new UAs/Towns have been added to this list since the last Census.
5. Mega Cities: Among the Million Plus UAs/Cities, there are three very large UAs with more than 10 million persons in the country, known as Mega Cities. These are Greater Mumbai UA (18.4 million), Delhi UA (16.3 million) and Kolkata UA (14.1 million). The largest UA in the country is Greater Mumbai UA followed by Delhi UA. Kolkata UA which held the second rank in Census 2001 has been replaced by Delhi UA. The growth in population in the Mega Cities has slowed down considerably during the last decade. Greater Mumbai UA, which had witnessed 30.47% growth in population during 1991-2001 has recorded 12.05% during 2001-2011. Similarly Delhi UA (from 52.24% to 26.69% in 2001-2011) and Kolkata UA (from 19.60% to 6.87% in 2001-2011) have also slowed down considerably.

Child Population (0-6 years):
6. Population of children in the age group is 158.8 million in Census 2011. In the urban areas there are 41.2 million children in this age group. In comparison to Census 2001, the number of children (0-6) in urban areas has increased (by 10.32%), while in the rural areas it has decreased by 7.04%.
7. Of the 41.2 million children (0-6) in the urban areas in the country, the population in Class I UAs/Cities is 27.9 million, which is about 67.8% of the total Urban child population. In Million Plus UAs/Cities the Child Population (0-6) is 16.6 million constituting about 40 % of the total urban child (0-6) population of the country.
8. Among the 53 Million Plus UAs/Cities 16.6 million are children (0-6), of which 52.7% are boys and 47.3% are girls, showing a preponderance of male children in these large cities.
9. Malappuram UA has the highest proportion of Children (0-6) (13.57%) in the Million Plus category, followed by Ghaziabad (13.09%). Kolkata UA has the lowest proportion at 7.54%.

The data files:
Data Highlights [pdf, 32 kb]
Population by gender and residence, Census 2011 [pdf, 412 kb] [xls, 319 kb]
Cities with population 100,000 and above [pdf, 152 kb] [xls, 190 kb]
Urban agglomerations/cities with population 100,000 and above [pdf, 138 kb] [xls, 179 kb]
Urban agglomerations/cities with population 1 million and above [pdf, 20 kb] [xls, 35 kb]
Constituents of urban agglomerations with population 100,000 and above, Census 2011 [pdf, 162 kb] [xls, 251 kb]
Urban agglomerations spread over more than one district [pdf, 10 kb] [xls, 24kb]
Abbreviations [pdf, 7 kb] [xls, 28 kb]

Gender Ratio:
10. Gender ratio, the number of females per thousand males, in urban areas in India is 926 in Census 2011. It has registered an increase of 26 points over the Gender ratio in 2001 Census.
11. Gender ratio in Class I UAs/Cities (population of 100,000 and above) is 921, which is 5 points lower than the total urban gender ratio in the country.
12. Among the Million Plus UAs/Cities the Gender Ratio stands at 912. The UAs, where population of females exceeds the total male population in this group are Kannur UA (Kerala) at the top with 1168. Surat UA (Gujarat) is at the bottom of the list with Gender Ratio at 754 where males outnumber females.
13. In the two of the three mega cities there is predominance of male population as they have returned low Gender Ratio (e.g., Greater Mumbai UA – 861, Delhi UA – 867). Kolkata UA has returned a better gender ratio at 928.

Child gender Ratio (0-6 years):
14. The Child gender Ratio in the country has declined from 927 to 914 in Census 2011. This decline is more pronounced in rural areas than in urban areas of the country, where the decline is by 4 points from 906 to 902 in Census 2011.
15. The Child gender Ratio in UAs/Cities with 100,000 persons and above is 899 which is marginally lower than the national average for urban areas.
16. The combined Child gender Ratio in Million Plus UAs/Cities is 898. Thiruananthapuram UA (Kerala) has returned the highest Child gender Ratio (971) in this group. The lowest slot is occupied by Agra UA (780).
17. Child gender Ratio in the three Mega Cities are 946 (Kolkata UA), 900 (Greater Mumbai UA) and the lowest in 868 (Delhi UA).

Literacy Rate:
18. The literacy rates among both males and females have shown improvement in Census 2011 compared to the last Census. The literacy rate in the country as a whole is 74.04%. In the rural and the urban areas the literacy rates are 68.9% and 84.9% respectively.
19. The female literacy rate in rural and urban areas shows wide variation. In the urban areas of the country the female literacy rate is 79.92% in the rural areas it is only 58.75%.
20. In the 468 UAs/Towns the progress in literacy has been quite encouraging. In 89 UAs/Cities the total Literacy Rate has crossed the 90% mark. The corresponding number of UAs/Cities in Census 2001 was only 23 in Census 2011. In another 288 UAs/Cities, the Literacy rate ranges between 80% to 90%, improving from 197 in Census 2001.
21. The total Literacy Rate in Greater Mumbai UA is 90.78%, the highest among the mega cities. The Literacy Rate in Delhi and Kolkata are 86.43% and 88.33% respectively. The female literacy rate is also the highest in Greater Mumbai UA (87.19) the top three megacities.

20110926Major update – In the Paper 2 series 12 more states and union territories have been added.

In the ‘Provisional Population Totals Paper 2 of 2011′ series you will find most of the new data concerns administrative divisions in the state (or UT), several ‘At a Glance’ compilations of data and charts, decadal growth rates for populations and the percentage shares (under various categories) of populations.

There are also gender ratios by residence, child population (with associated decadal growth characteristics, gender ratios and percentages), literates and literacy rates (also by residence).

The new entrants follow below. One state only remains and that is Jammu and Kashmir – perhaps by this week the paper 2 series will also be complete. I will post the details here as soon as that happens.

Arunachal Pradesh, Assam
Bihar, Chhattisgarh
Jharkhand, Lakshadweep
Maharashtra, Manipur
Meghalaya, Mizoram
Tripura, Uttarakhand

20110822Major update – The Census of India has begun releasing – as part of its Paper 2 series – the state and union territory results for rural-urban populations, literacy, child gender ratios and administrative units maps. I am listing the state/UT releases issued so far, followed by the major new data files for those states/UTs:

Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Andhra Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh
NCT of Delhi
Tamil Nadu

Dadra and Nagar Haveli
Daman and Diu
Madhya Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal

Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Provisional Population Totals (pdf, 1.52 MB)

Andhra Pradesh
Percentage of Urban Population (Map)(pdf, 233 kB) ; Figures at a Glance (pdf, 351 kB) ; Population, Decadal growth Rate, sex ratio by residence (pdf, 5.17 MB) ; Child population, Decadal growth, child sex ratio by residence (pdf, 6.97 MB) ; Literates, Literacy rate by residence, Literacy rate by gender (pdf, 6.24 MB)

NCT of Delhi
Provisional Population Totals (pdf, 8.04 MB)

Figures at a Glance (pdf, 77 kB) ; Population, Decadal Growth Rate, Sex Ratio by Residence (pdf, 2.62 MB) ; Child Population, Decadal Growth, Child Sex Ratio by Residence (pdf, 1.15 MB) ; Literates and Literacy Rate By Residence (pdf, 1.70 MB)

Figures at a Glance (pdf, 144 kB) ; Highlights of Haryana (pdf, 185 kB) ; Percentage of Urban Population to Total (Map)(pdf, 208 kB) ; Percentage Decadal Growth Rate of Urban Population 2001-2011 (Map)(pdf, 203 kB) ; Population, Decadal Growth Rate, Sex Ratio by Residence (pdf, 876 kB) ; Child Polulation, Decadal Growth, Child Sex Ratio By Residence (pdf, 1.24 MB) ; Literates and Literacy Rate by Residence (pdf, 916 kB)

20110725Major update – The Census of India has released its Paper 2 of the 2011 Census. This provides the national and state-level data for urban and rural populations and their growth rates. The summary of the update follows:

Administrative Units: Census 2011 covered 35 States/Union Territories, 640 districts, 5,924 sub-districts, 7,935 Towns and 6,40,867 Villages. In Census 2001, the corresponding figures were 593 Districts, 5,463 sub-Districts, 5,161 Towns and 6,38,588 Villages. There is an increase of 47 Districts, 461 Sub Districts, 2774 Towns (242 Statutory and 2532 Census Towns) and 2279 Villages in Census 2011 as compared to Census 2001.

Population: As per the Provisional Population Totals of Census 2011, the total population of India was 1210.2 million. Of this, the rural population stands at 833.1 million and the urban population 377.1 million. In absolute numbers, the rural population has increased by 90.47 million and the urban population by 91.00 million in the last decade. Uttar Pradesh has the largest rural population of 155.11 million (18.62% of the country’s rural population) whereas Maharashtra has the highest urban population of 50.83 million (13.48% of country’s urban population) in the country.

Growth Rate: The growth rate of population for India in the last decade was 17.64%. The growth rate of population in rural and urban areas was 12.18% and 31.80% respectively. Bihar (23.90%) exhibited the highest decadal growth rate in rural population.

Urban population percentages for states, 2011

Proportion of Population: In percentage terms, the rural population formed 68.84% of the total population with the urban population constituting 31.16% (increase of 3.35%). Himachal Pradesh (89.96%) has the largest proportion of rural population, while Delhi (97.50%) has the highest proportion of urban population. The EAG States have a lower percentage of urban population (21.13%) in comparison to non EAG States (39.66%).

Sex Ratio: The Sex Ratio in the country which was 933 in 2001 has risen by 7 points to 940 in 2011. The increase in rural areas has been 1 point from 946 to 947. The same in urban areas has been 26 points from 900 to 926. Kerala has the highest sex ratio in total (1084), rural (1077) and urban (1091). In rural, Chandigarh (691) and in urban, Daman & Diu (550) show the lowest sex ratio in the country respectively. Eight states namely Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and 1 UT Lakshadweep show fall in the sex ratio in rural area and 2 Union Territories, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli, in urban areas.

Child Population (0-6 years): Out of the child population of 158.8 million in the age group of 0-6 in the country the rural child population stands at 117.6 million and urban at 41.2 million in 2011. The Child population has declined by 5.0 million in the country – decline of 8.9 million in rural areas and increase of 3.9 million in urban areas. The Country has observed a decline in the percentage of child population in the age group 0-6 years by about 3 percentage points over the decade – rural areas show a decline of about 3 % and urban a decline of 2%. The growth rate of Child population has been -3.08% in the last decade (Rural- (-)7.04%; Urban- (+)10.32%).

Child Sex Ratio (0-6 years): Census 2011 marks a considerable fall in child sex ratio in the age group of 0-6 years and has reached an all time low of 914 since 1961. The fall has been 13 points (927-914) for the country during 2001-2011. In rural areas, the fall is significant – 15 points (934-919) and in urban areas it has been 4 points (906-902) over the decade 2001-2011. Delhi (809) has recorded the lowest and Andaman & Nicobar Islands (975) the highest child sex ratio in rural areas. Haryana (829) has recorded the lowest and Nagaland (979) the highest child sex ratio in urban areas.

Urban population percentages for states, 2001

Number of Literates: As per the Provisional Population Totals of Census 2011, the number of literates in India was 778.5 million. Of this, 493.0 million literates were in rural areas and 285.4 million literates in urban areas. Out of an increase of 217.8 million literates over the decade 2001-2011, rural areas accounted for 131.1 million and urban areas 86.6 million. The highest number of rural literates has been recorded in Uttar Pradesh (88.4 million). Maharashtra (40.8 million) has recorded the highest number of literates in urban areas.

Literacy Rate: The Literacy Rate of India as per the Provisional Population Totals of Census 2011 is 74.04. In rural areas the Literacy Rate is 68.91 and in urban areas it is 84.98. The decadal change works out to 9.21 points – 10.17 points in rural areas and 5.06 points in urban areas respectively. The male Literacy Rate which is 82.14 (Rural- 78.57; Urban-89.67) is higher than the female Literacy Rate of 65.46 (Rural- 58.75; Urban-79.92). The increase in female literacy rate is significantly higher in all areas i.e. total (11.79 points), rural (12.62 points) and urban (7.06 points) in comparison to corresponding male literacy rates – total (6.88 points), rural (7.87) and urban (3.40 points) over the decade. It is significant to note that the gap in literacy rate among males and females has reduced to 16.68 in the country. The gap is 19.82 points in rural areas and 9.75 points in urban areas.

Kerala (92.92) ranks first in rural areas whereas Mizoram (98.1) ranks first in urban areas. As far as Male literacy rate is concerned, Kerala (95.29) ranks first in rural areas whereas Mizoram (98.67) ranks first in urban areas. Rajasthan (46.25) has recorded lowest female literacy rate in rural areas, whereas, Jammu & Kashmir (70.19) has the lowest female literacy rate in urban areas. Lowest male literacy rate in rural areas has been recorded in Arunachal Pradesh (68.79) and in urban areasin Uttar Pradesh (81.75).

[The full contents of Paper 2 of the 2011 Census can be found here.] Paper 2 sections and data links are:

India at a Glance by Rural, Urban Distribution [pdf, 1.1 MB]
Rural Urban Distribution of Total Population [pdf, 22.5 MB]
Rural Urban Distribution of Child Population [pdf, 18.0 MB]
Rural Urban Distribution of Literacy [pdf, 17.5 MB]
Administrative Units [pdf, 1.5 MB]
General Notes [pdf, 1.2 MB]
Rural-Urban Data Sheets [pdf, 7.9 MB]

Rural Urban distribution of population and proportion of Rural and Urban population [xls, 15kb]
Population and Sex ratio by residence [xls, 18kb]
Population, decadal variation and percentage share of population by residence [xls, 16kb]
Child population in the age group 0-6 years, percentage and sex ratio (0-6) by residence [xls, 15kb]
Number of literates and Literacy Rate by sex and residence [xls, 16kb]
A presentation on Rural-Urban distribution of Population [pdf, 2.5 MB]
Executive Summary [pdf, 62kb]

20110628The India Census 2011 page has been updated with the full text of Chapter 8 of the first official paper on the census. This deals with population projections.

20110523 – Major addition – Datasheets are now listed and linked for 21 of the major states. The states are: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha/Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal


The enumerator, India’s 2011 census illustration icon, representing the 2.7 million enumerators and supervisors, “the heroines and heroes of Census 2011”.

The first set of detailed state-level data is almost complete as a release from the Census of India, 2011 Census. In the post titled ‘India’s 2011 Census – the states and their prime numbers’ I am providing the data types for each state and the links to the Census documents. So far, data sheets for 12 states are listed and linked. These are Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Kerala.


Exactly half of the twenty most populous states, each with a population of ten million or more, have added lesser persons in the decade 2001-2011 compared to the previous one. Had these ten states added the same number of persons during 2001-2011 as they did in the previous decade, everything else remaining the same, India would have added another 9.7 million more persons during this decade. [Text from the introductory note of Paper 1 on the Census.]

The phenomenon of low growth have started to spread beyond the boundaries of the Southern states during 2001-11, where in addition to Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the South, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab in the North, West Bengal and Orissa in the East, and Maharashtra in the West have registered a growth rate between eleven to sixteen percent in 2001-2011 over the previous decade.

The Provisional Population Totals of Census 2001 predicted this: “It is also obvious that in the contiguous four major South Indian states fertility decline appears to have well established, stretching to neighbouring Maharashtra on the west and Orissa and West Bengal in the east, whereas in other regions it is rather scattered.”

Among the smaller states and Union Territories, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu registered very high growth rates of more than fifty three percentage points. In contrast, Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Goa have registered single digit decadal growth. Nagaland is the only State which has registered a small negative growth during 2001-2011 after very high growths in all the previous decades.

It took four decades for Kerala to reach a decadal growth of less than ten percent from a high growth rate of 26.29 percent during 1961-71 to 9.43 during 1991-2001. Although Kerala has continued with this impressive show to register a growth rate of just above 4.9 percent during 2001-2011, the decadal growth rates in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are still above 20 percent, a level where Kerala and Tamil Nadu were forty years ago. However, the International experience is (European Fertility Project) that once the fertility transition had been established in a linguistic or cultural area, it spread rapidly and independently of socio-economic level achieved.

Perhaps the policy measures taken in the decade have prepared the basic ground for a similar situation in India and, one may expect a faster rate of fall in growth rates in the remaining states and Union Territories with increase in literacy and child care facilities and a reduction in poverty. The road to a stationary population before 2060 is long and arduous and would require intense efforts.


The long-awaited first set of provisional totals and demographic data have been released. This is a big moment. India’s is after all the biggest population enumeration exercise in the world – yes China’s population is greater, but the evidence of census operations in the twentieth century suggests that India’s census (not number of people) is the most complex and data-intensive in the world. It is also the longest running series – Census 2011 is the fifteenth census from 1872!

In a country like India, with multiethnic, multilingual, multicultural and multilevel society, the Census is much more than a mere head count of the population. It gives a snapshot of not only the demographic but also the economic, social and cultural profile of the country at a particular point of time. More often than not, it is the only available source of primary data at the level of the village and town (ward). It provides valuable information for planning and formulation of policies by the Government and is also used widely by national and international agencies, scholars, and many more.

In addition, the Census provides a basic frame for conduct of other surveys in the country. Any informed decision making that is based on empirical data is dependent on the Census. Democratic processes like the delimitation of electoral constituencies and affirmative action like reservation are also based on the basic data sets of the Census. It has indeed come a long way from what was described as “the idle curiosity of an eccentric sirkar”. So said J  Chartres Molony, Superintendent of Census, Madras, 1911: “The Village Officer, source of all Indian information, is the recorder of his village, and it well may be that amid the toils of keeping accounts and collecting mamuls, he pays scant heed to what he and his friends consider the idle curiosity of an eccentric sirkar”.

The earliest references of Census taking in India can be traced back to the Mauryan period in Kautilaya’s ‘Arthashastra’ (321-296 BC) and later during the Mughal period in the writings of Abul Fazl (1595-96) in the ‘Ain-e-Akbari’. Records have it that in 1687, during the Governorship of Elihu Yale in Madras Presidency, the King of England desired that a count of the inhabitants of Fort St George be taken. This however was not followed up until 1872. A count was also taken up in 1853 in the North Western Frontier, which was followed by a series of Census like enumerations. However these “were not censuses but simple head counts”. Dr. W.R.Cornish, Superintendent of Census Operations, Madras, 1871: “The estimates of population of Madras previous to 1867 had been so various and the direct censuses of 1822 and 1863 were so untrustworthy that it had been found utterly impossible to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion as to the actual number of people…”. Rev C.W.Ranson: “…for the period prior to 1871, we are dependent for our knowledge of the growth of population of Madras upon estimates which at their best represent only informed guesswork and at their worst wildest conjecture”.

A systematic and modern population Census, in its present scientific form was conducted non synchronously between 1865 and 1872 in different parts of the country. This effort culminating in 1872 has been popularly labelled as the first population Census of India (the first synchronous Census in India was however conducted in 1881). Christophe Guilmoto: “1871 is probably the turning point of the statistical history of India owing to the inception of a century long tradition of decennial censuses which in turn triggered a new development in the monitoring of socio demographic phenomena like famines, epidemiology or the natural increase of population.”

The Indian Census has a long tradition of releasing the population data on a provisional basis within a short time after the completion of the Population Enumeration. The population totals are built up by each Enumerator right from the page totals of a few data items for each page of the Household Schedule, which are then consolidated at the Enumerator’s Block level. The totals at various Administrative levels the Tahsil/Taluk/Community Development Block etc., the Town, the District and the State are consolidated through a process of successive aggregation. The entire exercise of aggregation right from the Enumerator’s Block level to the State level is completed within a short span.

Dr C Chandramouli, the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, has cautioned that “the first flush of Census 2011 results, ‘The Provisional Population Totals’, is rather raw and not subjected to the intensive checks and cross checks as the usual final Census data is. Further, the numbers given are somewhat tentative and the final figures are found to be a bit different. Some caution is therefore needed while interpreting the results. The intelligent data user will definitely keep these limitations at the back of his mind but still use the data provided here to pick up some early demographic trends. The ‘Final Population Totals’ will be released after the scanning and the processing of information collected in the Household Schedule are completed.” (Data sheets, tables and explanatory material can be found on the Census of India website.)

The population of India, at the turn of the twentieth century, was only around 238.4 million. This has increased by more than four times in a period of 110 years to reach 1210 million in 2011. Interestingly, the population of India grew by one and half times in the first half of the twentieth century, while in the later half it recorded a phenomenal three-fold increase.

One of the important features of the present decade is that, 2001-2011 is the first decade (with the exception of 1911-1921) which has actually added lesser population compared to the previous decade. This implies that as a result of the combination of population momentum and somewhat impeded fertility, although India continues to grow in size, its pace of net addition is on the decrease.

In absolute terms, the population of India has increased by about 181 million during the decade 2001-2011. Although, the net addition in population during each decade has increased consistently, the changes in net addition has shown a steady declining trend over the decades starting from 1961. While 27.9 million more people were added between the decade 1981-1991 than between 1971-1981, this number declined to 19.2 million for the decades between 1981-1991 and 1991-2001. The provisional results of 2011 shows that between 2001 and 2011, the net addition is less than that of the previous decade by 0.86 million.

Population Growth Rates – It is significant that the percentage decadal growth during 2001-2011 has registered the sharpest decline since independence. It declined from 23. 87 percent for 1981-1991 to 21.54 percent for the period 1991-2001, a decrease of 2.33 percentage point. For 2001-2011, this decadal growth has become 17.64 percent, a further decrease of 3.90 percentage points.

The provisional population totals of Census 2011 brings a ray of hope with definite signs that the growth rate of population is tapering off especially in areas where it had been stagnant for several decades. There is also a marked decline in fertility as evidenced by the declining proportion of child population in the age group of 0-6 years. Independent India, urged by the First Census Commissioner R A Gopalaswami, who referred to “improvident maternity” as the primary cause of the population problem became the first country in 1952 to establish a policy for population control. For the world as a whole, demographers are generally confident that by the second half of this century we will be ending one unique era in history – the population explosion – and entering another, in which population will level out or even fall. Population pessimists have warned the congenital optimists, not to believe that humanity will find ways to cope and even improve its lot. Still, Malthus noted: “The exertions that men find it necessary to make, in order to support themselves or families, frequently awaken faculties that might otherwise have lain for ever dormant, and it has been commonly remarked that new and extraordinary situations generally create minds adequate to grapple with the difficulties in which they are involved”.

A feature of both mortality and fertility transitions has been their increasingly faster tempo. Targeted programmes like those on female literacy, improving general health care, improving female employment rates, minimum years of schooling, advocacy through village groups, etc. is slowly redefining motherhood from childbearing to child rearing. Census 2011 is perhaps an indication that the country has reached a point of inflexion. [Dr Chandramouli’s excellent opening essay, from which these extracts have been taken, is dated Chaitra, Ekadashi,Vikram Samvat 2067 (30th March 2011).]

This is the second of my entries on the 2011 Census of India (see the posts ‘One frozen moment in 1911’ and ‘British Bombay’s furious 1911 growth rate’). These will continue to appear as more data and analysis are released. A page will appear soon to contain all the entries, arranged chronologically, and which will link to data sets. The first group of tables I have now posted. These are:
Table_1-Distribution of population, sex ratio, density and decadal growth rate of population
Table_2.3-Literates and literacy rates by sex
Table_2.2-Population aged 7 years and above by sex
Table_2.1-Child population in the age group 0-6 by sex
Table_3-Sex Ratio of Total population and child population in the age group 0-6 and 7+ years-2001 and 2011

The luxury auto madness of Aurangabad and Kolhapur

with one comment

Aurangabad city's Shahganj area: the wide and clear avenues, spacious squares, well-regulated traffic and absence of pesky pedestrians and vendors make it a pleasurable drive for the privileged BMW/Mercedes owner.

Aurangabad and Kolhapur, both cities in the state of Maharashtra, western India, have begun an alarming new trend in conspicuous consumption which is extraordinary even by the profligate standards of India’s new urban rich. Groups of residents in both cities have banded together to set records for the number of luxury cars – BMW and Mercedes Benz – ordered in a single day!

In October 2010, a group of wealthy Aurangabad residents took delivery of 150 Mercedes Benz saloons, in a deal worth an estimated 650 million rupees for the auto brand and its regional dealer (based in the city of Pune, Maharashtra). Also in October 2010, a group of wealthy Kolhapur residents decided that if there is to be a mass purchase of luxury cars, their city should be second to none. In early December 2010, according to news reports, the group had swelled to 180 and they were aiming for 200, each of whom would place an order for a Mercedes Benz. Meanwhile, the wealthy residents of Aurangabad decided now to make a mass order of 101 BMW saloons (a deal worth an estimated 400 million rupees), which they expect to take delivery of in January 2011.

Aurangabad is a city of around 900,000 residents (2001 Census) while Kolhapur is home to around 500,000 residents (2001 Census). Until 15 years ago, both cities were centres of trade in agricultural produce, cotton and sugarcane being the respective dominant crops. The economic ‘liberalisation’ in India has clearly brought about the transformation whose effect we are seeing in the mass booking of luxury saloons. Why do these residents think their action is important?

Kolhapur city's Kasba Gate area: the wide and clear avenues, spacious squares, well-regulated traffic and absence of pesky pedestrians and vendors make it a pleasurable drive for the privileged BMW/Mercedes owner.

Sacheen Mulay is the president of the Aurangabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a Mercedes Benz owner. He is reported as saying that the group of car buyers wanted to change the image of Aurangabad as a backward, sleepy destination. “Buying a 150 Mercedes is not a joke,” Mulay insisted. “We wanted recognition in the world. Aurangabad is not a small place. We are potential buyers and there are very upcoming entrepreneurs in Aurangabad.” Reportage on the Aurangabad mass buyers also mentioned that a huge shopping mall that opened last month has quickly become popular with residents, who are asking for more luxury brands, a bowling alley, and a nightclub.

Anand Mane, president of the Kolhapur Chamber of Commerce, is the point person for his city’s group of mass luxury saloon buyers. “More than 180 people have already registered their names with us. After the models are displayed in the city, we expect more than 200 people to buy the car. This car is a status symbol and hence, the demand for the vehicle is higher compared to other cars,” said Mane. Kolhapur district has a number of sugar mills and industrial estates. The estimate is that the city already has a population of over 1o0 Mercedes Benz cars, but their owners have to send the vehicles to Pune to get them vehicles serviced. With the big order, Mercedes Benz has started building its first service station in Kolhapur.

If the wealthy Kolhapur residents reach their target of 200 for the Mercedes Benz mass purchase, that deal will be worth about 870 million rupees and together, the luxury auto-obsessed groups in Aurangabad and Kolhapur will have given the Pune-based dealers of Mercedes Benz and BMW business worth 1,920 million rupees. Who are the people who have made these purchase decisions in the name of collective status? Businessmen, young entrepreneurs, politicians, lawyers, doctors and other professionals, say the news reports. [That there is a powerful ‘status’ logic at work in these two cities has been touched upon in an earlier post on the subject of automobiles in India.]

The car-buying groups are using their business skills to pressure the dealers and banks to giving them concessional terms for their record-breaking purchases. “We are negotiating with the dealers to find out what incentives they can give us,” Kolhapur businessman Yogesh Kulkarni told news media. “An insurance company has promised to insure the car at 50% of the normal rate. Some banks are also ready to give loans at discounted interest rates.”

Mercedes Benz and BMW dealers are being asked for discounts of 10-20%, the groups are negotiating with the State Bank of India (a nationalised scheduled commercial bank) to get a loan for seven years (against the normal five years) at 7% interest (well under the 10-11% effective rural rate of inflation), and an insurance company is said to be offering motor insurance at a 50% discount.

“We want to show the world that Aurangabad is no more backward but ahead of metropolitan cities,” said Pankaj Agrawal, an Aurangabad businessman and one of the mass purchase group. What do Agrawal, Mulay and Mane consider as being “backward”? The news reports don’t tell us. We also don’t know how the expense of 1.9 billion rupees on 450 luxury automobiles is seen as a step out of “backwardness” and a step ahead of the metropolitan cities.

How do these purchases compare with living conditions in Maharashtra? Annual median household income in rural Maharashtra is 24,700 rupees (2005 data from the India Human Development Survey – this will have not in my view changed substantially given the debt shocks, agricultural stagnation and overall conditions of employment and from 2007 onwards) while in urban Maharashtra it is 64,600 rupees. Thus the total amount spent in this period of 2010-11 by the wealthy luxury auto-obsessed groups in Aurangabad and Kolhapur is equivalent to the combined annual incomes of 29,721 households in urban Maharashtra and to the combined annual incomes of 77,732 households in rural Maharashtra.

Woodfuel in the Western Ghats

with 2 comments

Goatherds in Chikodi taluka, Belgaum district, Karnataka

Goatherds in Chikodi taluka, Belgaum district, Karnataka

The woodfuel-and-dungcakes energy mix for rural India is alive and well in the hills of Maharashtra’s Deccan. The indications are that a combination of factors is at work. There’s less income for smallholder farming households, those farming families which have earnings have seen their monthly household budgets squeezed by rising food prices, and energy costs at least the same or more. That’s why I’ve seen in November and December – when early mornings and nights are cool to chilly, and heating at home is needed – more evidence of woodfuel use.

If you ask the energy planners and econometricians, they’ll say that fuelwood markets are important and have a great influence on shaping demand. As a rule this is likely to be true, but what we’re seeing here has resulted from a variety of volatile conditions. Let’s look at some of the alternatives that rural households in the hills use. A cylinder of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) costs about Rs 325 in a town in western Maharashtra (the 14.2 kg domestic cylinder). A sack of coal costs about Rs 300 to Rs 350 (20-25 kg) which will usually include the cost of transport (it’ll be carted along with other goods on the roof of an old jeep, in a tempo or lorry – state transport bus conductors are not partial to letting these sacks on board any more).

From the planners’ point of view, market conditions for wood are highly distorted due to government policies on fuel, energy and forests. That’s why discussing both demand and supply in the context of prices and market conditions is important, because in isolation the terms ‘demand’ and ‘supply’ for rural energy mean next to nothing.

It’s important too to a rural household that wood is a multi-use material. For instance, for eucalyptus, the thickest portion of the trunk can be used as timber, if the girth of the trunk, with bark, is more than 70 cm. Poles are used for scaffolding support and as roofing material. The dimensions of logs for use as poles are 3 to 6 metres in length, and 30 to 70 cm in girth (cut pieces of similar girth but shorter are used as pulpwood in paper mills). All smaller pieces, twigs, bark, and roots, which cannot be used elsewhere, are used as fuelwood. Thus there is no single wood market in a town or peri-urban settlement. I’ve found it safe to say that the set-up and behaviour of each market differs from others depending upon the range of species available, and the purposes for which each wood species can be put to use.

Hillside grasses, ghat in Kolhapur district, Maharashtra

Hillside grasses, ghat in Kolhapur district, Maharashtra

All that said, the main point here is that the price of fuelwood has risen in the hills of Maharashtra’s Deccan. A buyer will now pay Rs 60 for a ‘maund‘ of ‘jungli‘ wood and Rs 80 for a ‘maund‘ of babul wood. Now a ‘maund‘ is around 37 kg, so that makes a metric ton of ‘jungli‘ wood worth about Rs 1,620 (without complicating the matter with discounts for weight) and a metric ton of babul wood is worth around Rs 2,160. That’s a pretty steep annual growth rate because at the start of the 2000s – according to those who know about these things in Kolhapur, Satara and Pune – the price of a ton of ordinary wood was around Rs 1,300 and they also said that the price then was twice what it had been (around 700/ton) a decade earlier.

This is both worrying and curious. Worrying because it means that sources of energy among some sections of the rural population are defaulting to the woodfuel-dungcakes mix. Worrying also because it means that natural and protected forests, orchard and scrub are being scoured for woodfuel. Curious because we are in 2010 going to be less informed about the relative importance of the three major biofuels to rural households: has the animal population grown in the last decade? have the growing number of bio-gas plants installed during the last 15 years taken away from the dungcake source? have commercial crops reduced the available quantities of husk and straw (and what’s the effect on these as animal feed? We know a lot less than we think, but we do know what a ‘maund‘ of babul costs so that it can heat a hill household in winter.