Census India 1931: The Population Problem in Jammu and Kashmir

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This article is an extract from


Report by

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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The Population Problem in Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir State is in area the largest of .the Indian States but only stands fourth in order of population. Much of the State's surface is occupied by arid desert at a very high elevation unable to sustain any but the scantiest population, and though the fertile valleys of the irrigable country support a high density of population they are too limited in comparison to balance the uninhabitable mountains. The total area is 84,516 sq. miles with a population of 3,646,243, giving a mean density of 43 per sq. mile.

This density drops to 5 persons per sq. mile over three quarters of the State in the area of the the semi-Tibetan tracts which include the vast deserts of Ladakh at a height of some 16,000 or 17,000 feet above sea level, and the stupendous peaks of the Pamirs and of the Hindu Kush and Karakoram ranges.

Jammu and kashmir.PNG

On the other hand the density for the Jammu and Kashmir provinces by themselves works out at 160 2 persons per sq. mile, while throughout the State most districts carry over 1,000 to the sq. mile of cultivated area, and actually in Ladakh and Gilgit, in the inhospitable mountains, that is, 1,600 is found, the highest density of inhabitants to cultivated land except in the Srinagar District itself. During the decade 136 miles of additional canal have been constructed irrigating an additional area of some 47,000 acres, and great improvements have taken place in road communications. Co-operative societies have increased by about 1,900 and their members by 300 per ceLt. since 1923, and their working capital amounts to over 97 lakhs.

Except for disastrous floods in 1928 the decade has been very prosperous agriculturally, and the volume of both exports and imports has increased by about 25 per cent., though the money value of the exports fell during the last three years of the decade to something below the 1921 value of exports only four-fifths of their present volume. The decennium was also exceptionally healthy.

The increase in population over tho State as a whole has been 9.8 per cent., increasing the density per sq. mile from 39 to 43. The population is predominantly Muslim, though Ladakh is inhabited by Tibetan Buddhists who keep down the population to a level which their barren mountains can support by a system of polyandry. The other inhabitants of the frontier districts are Muslim including the mongoloid Baltis and the Dards of Gilgit.

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