According to the 2001 Census there were about 168.6 million Dalits in India
and they constituted about 16.8% of the entire population of India.
2001 Census is now complete. The total population as risen to over
one billion, but we do not know yet the precise Dalit head count in the country.
However, the common conjecture is that there are roughly about 250 million Dalits in India.
Dalits today not only constitute numerically an important section of the Indian society but also
represent a community still struggling to break out of the centuries of mental bondage of the
oppressive and hegemonic Brahmanical/Hindutva order and inhuman existence.
The government of India identifies Dalits by designating them Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe status. However, all the peopl encompassed in these definitions are not strictly Dalits in the pure definition of the word but also include the low castes among the Sudras.
Dalits: The Scheduled Castes
According to the 2001 Census, the Scheduled Castes population in India (excluding the population
of Mao Maram, Paomata and Purul Sub-divisions of Senapati district of Manipur) stands at
166,635,700 persons which constitute 16.2 per cent of the country’s population.
Of the total
Scheduled Castes population, 79.8 per cent live in rural areas and 20.2 per cent live in urban areas.
The sex ratio of 936 females per thousand males is slightly higher than national average of 933 sex
The largest proportion of population of the Scheduled Castes to total population of the State
is found in Punjab (28.9 per cent) followed by Himachal Pradesh (24.7 per cent) and West Bengal
In Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Pondicherry proportion of SCs population is
exactly equal to the National average of 16.2 per cent.
The smallest concentration of the Scheduled
Castes population is in the North-eastern Adivasi States such as Mizoram (with negligible or only
272 persons) followed by Meghalaya (0.5 per cent) and Arunachal Pradesh (0.6 per cent).
highest percentage of Scheduled Castes population to the total SCs population of the country is
reported in Uttar Pradesh (21.1 per cent) followed by West Bengal (11.1 per cent) and Bihar (7.8 per
cent), Andhra Pradesh (7.4 percent) and Tamil Nadu (7.1.percent). In fact, more than 57 per cent of
total SCs population inhabit in these five States.
Dalits : The Scheduled Tribes
The total population of the Scheduled Tribes in India stands at 84,326,240 persons as per the 2001 Census.
They constitute 8.2 per cent of the total population of the country.
Out of their total population in the country, 91.7 per cent were living in rural areas, whereas,
only 8.3 per cent from urban areas.
The sex ratio of Scheduled Tribes population was 978 females
per thousand males.
The sex ratio among Scheduled Tribes population is higher than that of the
total population of the country as well as that of SCs.
The proportion of the Scheduled Tribes to the
total population of the States/Union territories is highest in Mizoram (94.5 %) and Lakshadweep
(94.5 %) followed by Nagaland (89.1 %), Meghalaya (85.9 %).
Within the major states Chhattisgarh
(31.8%) has the highest percentage of Scheduled Tribes population followed by Jharkhand (26.3%)
and Orissa (22.1%). These proportions are in the lowest in Uttar Pradesh (0.1 %), Bihar (0.9 %),
Tamil Nadu (1.0 %) and Kerala (1.1%).
Madhya Pradesh accounts for the highest percentage of
Scheduled Tribes population to total STs population of the country (14.5 percent) followed by
Maharashtra (10.2 per cent), Orissa (9.7 per cent), Gujarat (8.9 per cent), Rajasthan (8.4 per cent),
Jharkhand (8.4 per cent) and Chhattisgarh (7.8 per cent).
In fact, 68 per cent of the country’s
Scheduled Tribes population lives in these seven States.