Rural demographics of India.

AuthorSekhar, Savanam Chandra


In a country like India, with multilingual, multiethnic, multicultural and multilevel society, the Census stretches a snapshot of not only the demographic but also the social, cultural and economic profile of the country at a particular point of time. Census serves as a source of primary data at the level of village or town. It provides precious information for planning and formulation of policies by the government and is also used widely by national and international agencies, business persons, industrialists, scholars and many more. In addition, it provides a basic frame for conduct of various surveys in the country. Any informed decision making that is based on empirical data is dependent on the Census. Most of the data in this paper is based on the provisional population totals, Census of India, 2011. Census 2011 is the 15th Census of India since 1872 and the 7th since independence. According to Census 2011, India encompasses 35 States/Union Territories, 640 Districts, 5,924 Sub-districts, 7,935 Towns (4,041 Statutory Towns and 3,894 Census Towns) and 6,40,867 Villages.

Demographic factors such as size of the population, population growth rate, rural-urban pattern, sex ratio, literacy rate, age composition, ethnic composition, density of population, family size, nature of the family, income levels etc. have significant business implications (Cherunilam, 2009). Peter Drucker emphasizes the tremendous economic and business implications of demographic changes, suggests that any strategy, that is any commitment of present resources to the future expectations, has to start with demographics (Drucker, 1999).

With a mammoth rural population of 833 million, India bids a large rural market potential. The rural population of India is two and half times bigger than the total population of USA (309 million), about six times bigger than the total population of Russian Federation (140 million), and six and half times bigger than the total population of Japan (128 million). Rural India presents a baffling dichotomy of images on the one hand persisting poverty and on the other hand corporate giants betting big on the growing potential of rural markets. The fact is that rural India is anything but a homogeneous category (Abusaleh & Pany, 2005). A market comprises people for ex change of goods and services (Gandhi, 1995). The size and growth rate of the population, gender segmentation, level of literacy and the speed of urbanization are some of the demographic factors that need to be understood to estimate the extent of marketable opportunities. The huge gap in rural and urban population, changes in rural consumer behavior, size and scattered rural markets, age and gender divisions pose complex problems and marketers need to make diverse strategies to tap the rural markets. Therefore, it is important to understand selected rural demographics of India.

Rural Urban Distribution

Marketing principles are the same for rural or urban markets. It is the approach to applying these principles that requires adjustments according to specific opportunities and constraints resulting from a host of rural conditions in India that a marketer faces (Kazmi, 2007).

Population Size

The size of the population is an important determinant of demand for many products. There are countries with less than one lakh population on the one hand and those with more than thousand million on the other.

As per the Provisional Population Totals of Census of India...

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