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Assam Census 2011: Focus on Migration, Focus On Border Districts


rani pathak das
Research associate, Centre for Development and Peace Studies

Yet another census, yet another set of statistics. Census 2011 has revealed that Assam has now a population of 31,169,272. The highest growth of population has been recorded in Dhubri district, bordering Bangladesh. On the other hand, the growth rate has decreased in Karimganj, another district bordering that country. Again, the population growth rate of the eastern Assam districts is lower than that of the western Assam districts, leading to speculations in certain quarters if this has anything to do with illegal influx of people from across the border.

The total population of the state has increased from 26,638,407 to 31,169,272 in the last ten years with a growth rate of 16.93 per cent. This is lower than the overall national growth percentage of 17.64. Assam accounted for 2.58 per cent of India’s population of 121,01,93,422. Out of the total population of the State, 15,954,927 are male and 15,214,345 are female.

It is, however, noticeable that the highest growth of population has been found in the Dhubri district bordering Bangladesh. With 1,948,632 persons, the decadal growth rate of Dhubri district was found to be 24.40 per cent. On the other hand, the growth has decreased to 20.74 per cent from 21.87 per cent in Karimganj.

Again, the census report says that Kamrup (Metro) has the highest density of population (2,010) followed by Dhubri (1,171) and Baksa (763). The lowest density has been seen in Karbi Anglong, with no change from the 2001 census findings. The density of population per square kilometer in the State has gone up to 397 as against 340 in 2001. While the country’s highest population density is in Delhi’s north-east district (37,346 per sq km) the lowest is in Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh (just one per sq km).

Of the 27 districts of Assam, eight districts registered rise in the decadal population growth rate. Interestingly, religious minority-dominated districts like Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Morigaon, Nagaon, Hailakandi etc. recorded growth rates ranging from 20 per cent to 24 per cent during the last decade. On the other hand, eastern Assam districts like Sivasagar, Jorhat etc registered around 9 per cent population growth, and for the record, these districts do not share any international border.

Ever since 1872, every ten years the Census of India has been publishing statistics on various characteristics of the population, such as, demography, social and cultural aspects, economic activities, housing, amenities and assets, migration, etc. The statistical analysis has always presented a unique opportunity to understand the dynamics and trends pertaining to different features of the huge and diverse population of the country. The recently conducted 15th census of India has brought to light many interesting and vital factors regarding human development in the country. In the context of Assam, this census is remarkably significant and shows certain interesting developments in the demographic and social dimensions of the State.

A significant aspect revealed by the report is that the growth rate of female population in Assam has surpassed that of males. Decadal growth rate of female population has been recorded as 18.14 per cent against male percentage 15.81. The sex ratio in the State (number of female per 1,000 male) has increased from 935 to 954. On the contrary, the overall sex ratio at the national level has increased from 933 to 940. A significant improvement in the sex ratio has been shown in all the districts except Darrang. The highest sex ratio has been recorded in Morigaon (974), while the lowest ratio has been observed in Kamrup (Metro) district (922).

An alarming fact indicated by the Census is, the continuing preference of the male children rather than the female children. The current national figure of 914 female children against 1000 male children is indeed dismal for the future generation, and the lowest since Independence. The child sex ratio (0-6 years) in Harayan and Punjab is lowest among all states. Haryana has 830 female children and Punjab 846 per 1000 male child. The highest child sex ratio is in Mizoram (971 females against 1000 males) and Meghalaya (970). In Assam, the total child population (0-6 years) has ascended to 4,511,307. Out of that, 2305088 are male and 2206219 are female, the ratio being, 957 female children per 1000 male child.

Literacy rate in the State rises to 73.18 per cent, an increase of about 9 per cent. Interestingly, the country’s literacy rate has gone up from 64.83 per cent in 2001 to 74.04 per cent in 2011 showing a jump of 9.21 per cent. During 2001-2011, literacy rate of males is put at 82.14 per cent and female at 65.46 per cent. In 2001, the male literacy rate was 75.26 per cent and female 53.67 per cent. Mizoram's two districts – Serchhip (98.76 per cent) and Aizawl (98.50 per cent) have recorded highest literacy rates while Madhya Pradesh's Alirajpur district (37.22 per cent) and Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district (41.58 per cent) recorded lowest literacy rates. In Assam, Kamrup (Metro) district recorded the highest literacy rate at the district level with 88.66 per cent while the lowest is in Dhubri district.