With a population of 610,077,000 residents according to a 1976 estimate, India is the most populous country on Earth, after China. The striking contrasts are the main feature of this state, in which the highest mountain ranges of the Earth alternate, vast plateaus and boundless plains, areas among the rainiest in the world and very arid areas, lush forests and eternal glaciers. All this has had a profound impact on the current distribution of the population, whose high average density (167 residents per km 2) does not realistically express the effective distribution framework of the residents.
In reality, close to vast areas completely depopulated corresponding for the most part to the Himalayan reliefs and the north-western desert areas, areas of dense settlement coexist, mainly along the river valleys, in the deltas, in the islands and in the areas that have recently suffered a more intense urbanization process. This remarkable heterogeneity in the distribution of the population also finds correspondence in a multiple variety of languages and religions, as well as in the different degree of socio-economic development of the federated states. In the India three large racial groups are distinguished (Negrids, Europids and Mongolians, all in turn crossed, to the point of originating an accentuated mixture of somatic characters), five major linguistic groups (Dravidian languages; Arias; Tibetobirmans; Sino-Siamese and munda, For India 1998, please check constructmaterials.com.
A geographic organization that is truly complex and difficult to understand, divided into 22 states and 9 territories, the India is today a country in profound evolution. Its high rate of demographic increase, characteristic above all of the 1940-60 period, and the spread of Malthusian theories have already led the government since 1965 to set up several birth control centers to be implemented through vasectomy and the propaganda of anti-fertility practices, which have already led to a slight decrease in the annual growth coefficient. In spite of this, the battle against hunger, strictly connected to the demographic increase, becomes more and more bitter and is essentially characterized by a growing need for foodstuffs, cereals first of all, whose imports to the at the beginning of the Sixties they exceeded 3 million tons per year and in 1966 (a year of acute famine) they reached 11 million, even exceeding the reception capacities of national ports. The following year, due to the excellent trend of the harvests, they were reduced to 5 million; today the India is still a strong buyer of food, despite the progress of its agriculture.
At the same time, the process of modernization is turning towards ever greater industrialization, but it clashes with atavistic and obstinate resistances, which tend to keep alive precisely those cultural values that are most in contrast with the modernization of today’s world. Hence, for example, the disorganized and irrational way in which the urban phenomenon manifests itself (it must be borne in mind that 20% of the population of the India is urban, a considerable value in a “village of villages” of millenary institution). recent years has reflected a long stagnant phase in the development of the countryside and which increasingly accentuates the gap between the urban and peasant world as well as that between the rich and the poor of the same city: this also contributes to making the adoption and
The urban population has grown over the past fifteen years at a rate of 2.5% per year. The major developments and at the same time the contrasts between the squalor and misery of the peripheral belt and the rational and modern functionality of the urban center were found in New Delhi (3 million residents), the state capital, formed by the two distinct nuclei of old Delhi. (which includes the historic districts of millenary memory and the Civil Lines, from the colonial era) and new Delhi, built according to very modern architectural schemes. Delhi, however, is not an important industrial center; its main functions are of a political, administrative and cultural nature, so much so that 71.5% of its active population is employed in the tertiary sector.
More than half a century after the achievement of independence, the India is still plagued by problems of marked backwardness, strong demographic pressure and dramatic economic-territorial imbalances; problems already arduous and aggravated in themselves, as well as by persistent internal conflict (with strong ethnic-religious and social tensions), also by a complicated international situation: the country, in fact, has always been involved in the dispute with Pakistan – marked from recurring war episodes – for the question of Kashmir (see below: History), to which are added disagreements with China and fluctuating relations with the United States and other powers.
At the 1991 census the population amounted to 844,324,222 residents and the average density was around 257 residents / km ². Official estimates of 1998 attributed to the country over 980 million residents, for an average density of almost 300 residents / km ². The annual rate of increase, despite the demographic containment policies, adopted with great determination but difficult to apply in such a vast and still largely rural country, is decreasing very slowly. In the seventies it was around 22 ‰, it dropped to 21‰ during the following decade and only in the 1990s to 20 ‰.
The distribution of the population continues to be very uneven. (see tab). Alongside areas with very high density, such as the rice-growing regions of the low Gangetic plain, the Bengal delta, a part of Assam, Kerala and the large metropolitan areas of Madras (Chennai) and Bombay (Mumbai), there are large areas sparsely populated. In addition to near the Himalayan region and the pre-desert belts of Rajasthan, densities are minimal in the north-eastern Deccan, in inland Gujarat and, in general, in all areas where the monsoon contribution is less.
The India is home to some of the largest metropolitan areas in the globe. If Bombay and Calcutta have long since exceeded 10 million residents (and the agglomeration of Delhi is now approaching this value), Madras has largely exceeded 5 million, while Bangalore and Hyderabad are well above 4 million. Overall, there are more than 30 cities whose population amounts to over one million residents.
In addition to the size reached by the overall population, the great problems of the country are due to the variegated ethnic-linguistic composition and the de facto persistence of the caste system, which still marks the fate of most Indians since birth.