Class 12 Sociology - Indian Society : Chapter 2 - The Demographic Structure of the Indian Society Questions and Answers

List of Questions and Answers

1.State two factors responsible for famines.


  • Famines were caused by high levels of continuing poverty and malnutrition in an agro climatic environment that was very vulnerable to variations in rainfall.
  • Lack of adequate means of transportation and communication as well as inadequate efforts on the part of the state were some of the factors responsible for famines.

2.How does literacy vary across gender, region and social groups?

Literacy is said to be an instrument of empowerment.
Literacy in case of gender:
The literacy rate for women is almost 22% less than the literacy rate for men.There has been rise in female literacy and in the year it was noticed that between year 1991 and 2001 there has been a 15% rise in literacy incase of females compared to the rise in male literacy of a little less than 12% in the same period.
Literacy across social groups Disadvantaged communities like the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have lower rates of literacy, and rates of female literacy within these groups are even lower.
Literacy across regions
Regional variations are still very wide, with states like Kerala approaching universal literacy, while states like Bihar are lagging far behind.

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3.Explain Malthusian Theory of population growth.


  • Malthus's theory of population growth-outlined in his Essay on Population (1798)- was a rather pessimistic one.
  • He argued that human populations tend to grow at a much faster rate than the rate at which the means of human subsistence i.e food, clothing and other agriculture-based products can grow.
  • That's why he said humanity is condemned to live in poverty forever because the growth of agricultural production will always be overtaken by population growth.
  • While population rises in geometric progression (i.e., like 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 etc.), agricultural production can only grow in arithmetic progression (i.e., like 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 etc.).
  • He felt that there should be control on growth of population and humanity has only a limited ability to voluntarily reduce the growth of its population by using preventive checks like postponing marriage or practicing sexual abstinence or celibacy.
  • Malthus believed therefore that "positive checks" to population growth-in the form of famines and diseases-were inevitable because they were nature's way of dealing with the imbalance between food supply and increasing population.

4.What is meant by "birth rate" and "death rate"? Explain why the birth rate is relatively slow to fall while the death rate declines much faster.

Birth rate is the total number of live births in a particular area (an entire country, a state, a district or other territorial unit) during a specified period (usually a year) divided by the total population of that area in thousands. In other words, the birth rate is the number of live births per 1000 population.
The death rate is a similar statistic, expressed as the number of deaths in a given area during a given time per 1000 population.
The birth rate is relatively slow to fall is because the birth rate is a socio-cultural phenomenon that is relatively slow to change. By and large, increased levels of prosperity exert a strong downward pull on the birthrate. Once infant mortality rates decline, and there is an overall increase in levels of education and awareness, family size will begin to fall. Some states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu have managed to bring down their total fertility rates (TFR) to 2.1 and 1.8 respectively. But there are some states, notably Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, which still have very high TFRs of 4 or more.

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5.What is meant by the "sex ratio"? What are some of the implications of a declining sex ratio?

The sex ratio refers to the number of females per 1000 males in a given area at a specified time period.
The reason being give for decline in sex ratio by demographers are as follows:

  • Increased risk of death in childbirth that only women face.
  • severe neglect of girl babies in infancy, leading to higher death rates;
  • sex specific abortions that prevent girl babies from being born;
  • and female infanticide (or the killing of girl babies due to religious or cultural beliefs)

6.State the checks suggested by Robert Malthus to control population growth.

As per Thomas Robert Malthus he suggested that the only way to control population is:
By using preventive checks like postponing marriage or practicing sexual abstinence or celibacy.

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7.Despite the decline in birth rate, the growth rate of India’s population is increasing.Explain the reason.

The rate of natural increase or the growth rate of population refers to the difference between the birth rate and the death rate. When this difference is zero (or, in practice, very small) then we say that the population has "stabilised".

  • The "population explosion" happens because death rates are brought down relatively quickly through advanced methods of disease control, public health, and better nutrition.
  • India has a very young population – that is, the majority of Indians tend to be young, and the average age is also less than that for most other countries.And because of the young population, the growth rate is increasing very fast.

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8.Explain the population policy in India.

Population dynamics is an important matter and plays an important role in developmental prospects of a nation as well as the health and well being of its people.
India was the first country to explicitly announce population policy in 1952.
National Family Planning Programme was one important Population policy.The objectives of this programme are as follows:

  • to try to influence the rate and pattern of population growth in socially desirable directions.
  • the most important objective was to slow down the rate of population growth through the promotion of various birth control methods.
  • improve public health standards, and increase public awareness about population and health issues.
  • The government tried to intensify the effort to bring down the growth rate of population by introducing a coercive programme of mass sterilisation.Sterilisation refers to medical procedures like vasectomy (for men) and tubectomy (for women) which prevent conception and childbirth.
  • The poor and powerless people were forcibly sterilised and there was massive pressure on lower level government officials (like school teachers or office workers) to bring people for sterilisation in the camps that were organised for this purpose.
  • The National Family Planning Programme was renamed as the National Family Welfare Programme after the programme was opposed.

9.What is meant by the infant mortality rate?

Ans: The infant mortality rate is the number of deaths of babies before the age of one year per 1000 live births.

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10.Highlight the main features of the age structure of the Indian population.

The age structure of the population refers to the proportion of persons in different age groups relative to the total population.
India is one of the youngest countries in the world – majority of Indians tend to be young.

  • India has a very young population – that is, the majority of Indians tend to be young, and the average age is also less than that for most other countries.
  • The share of the 15-60 age group has slightly increased while the share of 60 + age group is very small.
  • The present trend indicates that 0-14 age group will reduce, thus the changing age structure could offer a demographic dividend for India.
  • There are wide regional variations as states like Kerala are beginning to acquire age structure like that of developed countries while some states like Uttar Pradesh shows high proportions in the younger age groups and relatively low proportions among the aged.

11.Why is distinction made between formal and social demography?

The distinction is made because formal demography is primarily concerned with the measurement and analysis of the components of population change. Its focus is on quantitative analysis for which it has a highly developed mathematical methodology suitable for forecasting population growth and changes in the composition of population.
On the other hand social demography, enquires into the wider causes and consequences of population structures and change. Social demographers believe that social processes and structures regulate demographic processes; like sociologists, they seek to trace the social reasons that account for population trends.

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12.What does Emile Durkhein state in a report after a survey of different countries in the world?

Emile Durkheim's famous study explains the variation in suicide rates across different countries.
Durkheim argued that the rate of suicide (i.e., number of suicides per 100,000 population) had to be explained by social causes even though each particular instance of suicide may have involved reasons specific to that individual or her/his circumstances.

13.What is replacement level of growth rate?

Ans: The rate of natural increase or the growth rate of population refers to the difference between the birth rate and the death rate. When this difference is zero (or, in practice, very small) then we say that the population has "stabilised", or has reached the "replacement level", which is the rate of growth required for new generations to replace the older ones that are dying out.

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14.What is a negative growth rate of population?

Ans:When the difference between the birth rate and the death rate is negative, it is called as negative growth rate – that is, their fertility levels are below the replacement rate. This is true for many countries and regions in the world today, such as Japan, Russia, Italy and Eastern Europe.

15.Why is fertility rate a crude rate?

Ans:The fertility rate refers to the number of live births per 1000 women in the child-bearing age group, usually taken to be 15 to 49 years. It is called "crude rate" because it is a rough average for an entire population and does not take account of the differences across age-groups. Differences across age groups can sometimes be very significant in affecting the meaning of indicators. That is why demographers also calculate age-specific rates.

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16.Identify the reasons for the rapid growth of metropolises.

Following are the reasons for the rapid growth:

  • Metros attract migrants from the rural areas as well as from small towns.
  • With the mass media’s primary focus on these cities, the public face of India is becoming more and more urban rather than rural.

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