Census India 1931: The Population Problem in Coorg
This article is an extract from
CENSUS OF INDIA, 1931
J. H. HUTTON, C.I.E., D.Sc., F.A.S.B.,
Corresponding Member of the Anthropologische Gesselschaft of Vienna.
Delhi: Manager of Publications
(Hutton was the Census Commissioner for India)
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Coorg, smallest after Delhi of the provinces of India, is the only one which showed a decrease of population at the census of 1931.
It is administered by a Chief Commissioner, who combines this office with that of Resident in Mysore, and has a council of 15 elected and 5 nominated members. Its area is 1,593 square miles (of which 519 are occupied by Reserved Forest) with a population of 163,327- 511 less that is than in 1921, and a density of 103 persons per sq. mile. The decrease in population is probably greater than the figures indicate, since there has been a decrease of about 5,000 persons in the natural population most of which is balanced by an increase in immigrants more apparent than real, since it consists mostly of labourers who leave the province for their homes in March.
In 1921 many must have already gone when the census was taken but in 1931 the census fell earlier before the exodus had started. The vital statistics showed an excess in deaths over births of 14,000, though it is stated of the average individual in Coorg that his desire " appears to be to have as many children as possible, irrespective of his economic position ".
Coffee plantations on an important scale as well as cardamom plantations on the western slopes of the plateau continued to flourish and tea to survive, though plantations of rubber and agave are being abandoned, but the staple crop is rice of which the province produces more than it consumes. Both for rice and coffee the decade was favourable except for the heavy floods in 1924. The fall in prices, steady till 1929, at the end of the decade caused paddy to be sold at exceedingly low rates and the area under rice-cultivation to decrease from 84,587 to 82,822 acres.
Urban population has increased and a general increase in the number of occupied houses points to the gradual dissolution of the joint family system prevalent in Coorg.