Land and the People
India is very rich in terms of biological diversity due to its unique biogeographical location,
diversified climate conditions and enormous ecodiversity and geodiversity. India’s immense
biological diversity encompasses ecosystems, populations, species and their genetic make-up.
This diversity can be attributed to the vast variety in physiography and climatic situations
resulting in a diversity of ecological habitats ranging from tropical, sub-tropical, temperate,
alpine to desert. According to world biogeographic classification, India represents two of the
major realms (the Palearctic and Indo-Malayan) and three biomes (Tropical Humid Forests,
Tropical Dry/Deciduous Forests and Warm Deserts/Semi-Deserts). The Wildlife Institute of
India has proposed a modified classification which divides the country into ten biogeographic
regions: Trans-Himalayan, Himalayan, Indian Desert, Semi-Arid, Western Ghats, Deccan
Peninsula, Gangetic Plain, North-East India, Islands and Coasts. In the light of Biodiversity
Convention, India holds a unique position with the priority of conservation of natural resources
and sustainable development. Infact, within only about 2 per cent of world’s total land surface,
India is known to have over 7.50 per cent of the species of animals that the world holds and this
percentage accounts nearly for 92,037 species so far known, of which insects alone include
61,375 species. It is estimated that about two times that number of species still remain to be
discovered in India alone.
The Census of India 2001, was historic and epoch making, being the first census of the
twenty-first century and the third millennium. It reveals benchmark data on the state of abundant
human resources available in the country, their demography, culture and economic structure at a
juncture, which marks a centennial and millennial transition.
Census 2011 was the 15th census of its kind since 1872. It was held in two phases: House
listing and Housing Census (April to September, 2010) and Population Enumeration (February 9
to 28, 2011 with revisional round during 1st to 5th March,2011). Reference Date was 0.00 hour
of March 1, 2011. In snow bound areas, the Population Enumeration was conducted from
September 11 to 30, 2010. The Final Population data was released on April 30, 2013.
The population of India as on March 1, 2011 stood at 1,210.9 million (623.2 million males
and 587.6 million females). India accounts for a meagre 2.4 per cent of the world surface area of
135.79 million sq. km. Yet, it supports and sustains a whopping per cent of the world population.
The population, which at the turn of the twentieth century was around 238.4 million,
increased to reach 1,210.9 million by 2011. As recorded at each decennial census from 1901 the
population has grown steadily except for a decrease during 1911-21
One of the important indices of population concentration is the density of population. It is
defined as the number of persons per sq. km. The population density of India in 2011 was 382
per sq. km-decadal growth 17.72 per cent.
The density of population increased in all states and union territories between 1991 and
2011. Among major states, Bihar is the most thickly populated state with (a population density
of) 1,106 persons per sq. km followed by West Bengal 1,028 and Kerala 860.
Sex ratio, defined as the number of females per thousand males is an important social
indicator to measure the extent of prevailing equality between males and females in a society at a
given point of time. The sex ratio in the country has always remained unfavourable to females. It
was 972 at the beginning of the twentieth century and thereafter showed continuous decline until
1941. The sex ratio from 1901-2011 has registered a 10 point increase at census 2011 over 2001;