Census India 1931: The Population Problem in United Provinces of Agra and Oudh

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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 United Provinces of Agra and Oudh

The United Provinces have an area of 112,191 sq. miles of which 5,943 con- Provinces stitute the States of Rampur, Tehri-Garhwal and Benares. The total area is less than that of 1921 by 53 sq. miles on account of 8 sq. miles transferred elsewhere and 45 reduced by fresh surveys. The province (British territory) is a little smaller than the British Isles and has a slightly larger population, while the total population of the province is 49,614,833 with a mean density of 442. Though seventh of the provinces of India in size, it is third in point of population. Eighty per cent of the earning inhabitants are actively engaged in agriculture.

Agra and oudh.PNG

The decade has been a good one in respect of rainfall and crops, in spite of having opened with famine conditions in Gonda and Bahraich, and closing with drought and locusts in certain restricted areas, and with a serious collapse of agricultural prices. The Sarda irrigation canal, on which work was started in 1921, was opened in the main branch, in 1928. The system comprises some 4,000 miles of main channel and distributaries and 1,700 miles of drains over an area of six million acres of which it is anticipated that on an average 1,350,000 will be irrigated annually by its means. New masonry wells to the number of 150,314 have been constructed during the decade, mostly at the expense of the cultivators themselves, but the net cultivated area of the province has not increased and the double-cropped area is also stationary.

The principal food crops are rice, millet, wheat, barley and pulse. Sugarcane is very important in the north-west and oilseeds are cultivated often in lines sown through fields of other crops. The condition of livestock during the greater part of the decade was unsatisfactory on account of epidemics. The enquiries made by the Banking Enquiry Committee in 1929 indicated that 46% of tenants and peasant proprietors were then debt-free, and 22% owed less than two years' rent. Of landlords a larger number were in debt and their debts were very much greater.

The fragmentation of holdings is a serious disadvantage to the agriculturist, and the reserves built up during the first seven prosperous years of the decade have been exhausted by the collapse at its close.' In 1929-31 revenue was remitted to the amount of Rs. 1,68,50,000, and about three times that amount in rents. In industry. of which Cawnpore is the principal centre, the numbers of factories rose by 72 . 5% from 218 to 376 and of persons employed in them by 33 .2% from 69,000 to 92,000, and the increase has been principally in permanent as distinct from seasonal employment. There has been a marked improvement in public health, particularly in the matter of deaths from plague, cholera and small-pox. The increase in population during the decade has been greater in the States than in British territory but amounts over the whole province to 6 . 7%, the density being greater in the east than in the west.

In this connection it is pointed out that the higher castes are predominant in the west of the province, and the lower in the east, or in cases of castes uniformly distributed, the western branches are socially superior. Generally speaking, however, the population of the United Provinces, like its language, is more uniform than that of most provinces in India.

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