District-wise population and literacy in HimachalPOPULATION AND LITERACY : DISTRICT-WISE SCENARIO IN HIMACHAL PRADESH AND EARLY POLICY DIAGNOSIS FOR TWELFTH FIVE YEAR PLAN
In the earlier paper, I had attempted to present the relative position of population growth in Himachal Pradesh as compared to the other States in the region over the 2001-2011 decade. It was observed that the State of Himachal Pradesh had continued to lead the field in terms of containing the population growth, improvement in the sex ratio and literacy performance. One is aware of the positive correlation between the literacy especially among the female population and the balance of sex ratio in the districts in Himachal Pradesh over the past few decades. It has also been observed in the past couple of decades that higher population growth in some districts is also linked to the preponderance of the scheduled caste population and a comparatively higher incidence of poverty. We now have limited data on 2011 census available and would like to analyse the same to test some of the standing hypotheses of inter-district behaviour of population growth and allied attributes.
The district-wise total population for 2001 and 2011 censuses is presented in the following table:-
2001 Census Population
2011 Census Population
Per cent Decadal rate of growth
Change in per cent share over the decade
Per cent share
Per cent share
Let us begin with a comment on the decadal growth rate for different districts. The growth in all the districts for 2001-2011 period has been lower than the national average of 17.6 per cent. However, four districts, namely Una, Sirmaur, Solan and Kullu recorded a growth rate higher than the State average. With the exception of Lahaul-Spiti which recorded a decline of 5.1 per cent in its population for 2011 as compared to 2001 and Kinnaur which recorded a growth rate of 7.61 per cent, Hamirpur district recorded the lowest growth rate of 10.08 per cent, followed by Mandi district at 10.89 per cent. Other districts which include Bilaspur, Chamba, Kangra and Shimla grew at about 12 per cent over the decade. It is a good transition in overall population growth for the State as a whole when we have a compound growth rate of about 1.2 per cent per annum. Given the general appreciation and rising literacy levels all across, the day does not seem far off when Himachal Pradesh could head for a stable population size. If the State economy continues to grow at the pace recently witnessed over the last half a decade, the per capita incomes would rise at a much faster rate auguring well for the entire population.
The second comment on the above data emerges in the shift occurring in the relative shares of the district-wise population due to differential decadal growth rates witnessed during the period 2001-2011. Eight out of twelve districts have had a decline in their relative share in population whereas the four districts which have recorded a higher decadal growth rate than the State have an increase in their relative share for 2011 census as compared to 2001 census. Mandi district has recorded the highest decline in its relative share for 2011 as compared to 2001 followed by Hamirpur district. On the negative side, the field is led by Una district recording the highest increase in its relative share for 2011 as compared to 2001. Better performing districts of Mandi and Hamirpur need to be incentivized in the resource allocation scheme whereas the laggards like Una, Sirmaur, Solan and Kullu need to be dis-incentivized in some form for having neglected the need for arresting the population growth. However, as more data becomes available, it will be useful to further analyze the specific causes for this problem as these four districts account for nearly 30 per cent of the total State population but have a high incidence of scheduled caste population and resultantly also have high incidence of poverty. The policy prescriptions will have to take into account these factors as well.
Since the rate of population growth is very strongly correlated to the overall literacy levels in general, and that of the female literacy, in particular, it is of paramount importance to look at this particular parameter.
The literacy data at an overall level district-wise as also the gender gap in literacy for the two censuses of 2001 and 2011 is presented in the table below.
2001 Census literacy percentage
2011 Census literacy percentage
L & Spiti
Himachal Pradesh is among the leading States in the country in terms of literacy and therefore, all the districts except Chamba have a higher literacy percentage as compared to the all-India average. Even Chamba is a little over 1 per cent behind the national figure. In terms of intra-State scenario, the districts of Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Kangra, Shimla, Solan and Una have a higher literacy percentage as compared to the State figure. Chamba, Lahaul-Spiti and Sirmaur are at the bottom of literacy ladder in the State. Talking of female literacy, the gender gap has come down by 3.7 per cent in 2011 as compared to 2001 for the State as a whole and now stands at 14.23 per cent which is better than the all-India figure of 16.68 per cent. In the descending order starting with the worst, Chamba, Lahaul-Spiti, Kullu, Mandi and Kinnaur have an adverse gender gap which is not only worse than the State average but is even worse than the national figure. We need to remember that the special intervention in terms of identifying the low female literacy districts and designing and implementing district-specific programmes to remedy the imbalance has already been carried through in the past plans. Have we reaped the harvest? According to the 2001 census, the districts of Chamba, Sirmaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Kullu were the low female literacy districts in the State context. The gain in female literacy in the 2001-2011 period has been highest in Chamba district which is close to 14 percentage points followed by 12 in Sirmaur, 11 in Kullu and only 6 in Lahaul-Spiti. The State average is 9. Do we say that programmes of DPEP format were better implemented in Chamba and Sirmaur and to a good extent in Kullu as well whereas these suffered from the planning as well as implementation disabilities in the case of Lahaul-Spiti district?
As a run up to the formulation of the next Five Year Plan which is already on the drawing boards, programmes for effective population control and better RCH services need to be planned for the four districts of Una, Sirmaur, Solan and Kullu. On the literacy front, special female literacy programmes will need to be formulated and put in place for Chamba, Lahaul-Spiti, Kinnaur, Kullu, Mandi and Sirmaur.