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It was hardly to be expected that the first attempt to carry out
a census in Bengal would be accomNo opposition. plished without exciting alarm in the
minds of the people. The most absurd rumours got abroad. But as the people were brought into contact with the census officials, they gathered more and more of the true object in view, and many of them finally learned to laugh at their own fears. As a rule, there was no real opposition whatever: in one place only was there any serious outbreak. The most prevalent ideas, and those which took deepest root in the minds of the people, were the anticipation of increased taxation and compulsory emigration. No general dissatisfaction, however, existed, and any passive resistance that may have been made was purely local and easily overcome.
The census was successful beyond all expectation. If we had . , expected to get absolute accuracy, the
General accuracy of tho census. , . . _ .1 . .
J plan 01 taking the census on various
dates within a moderate period would no doubt have been inconsistent with such an expectation. But no census in India can possibly be without a considerable margin of inaccuracy, and within that margin the small inaccuracies resulting from the taking different tracts on different days are as nothing. The details are, the Lieutenant-Governor considers, sufficiently ample and sufficiently accurate. The LieutenantGovernor's own feelings were, he confesses, very much those expressed by more than one district officer and entertained, he believes, by many more, viz. that they began by doubting whether the returns would be worth the paper on which they were written, and ended by thinking them wonderfully good and trustworthy. This last opinion appears everywhere in the reports. All that has been learned of tests applied by superior officers and others, and by some independent observers, goes to "confirm the belief. Some mistakes and inaccuracies on a small scale there must no doubt be, but the general result is, the Lieutenant-Governor believes, surprisingly accurate.
The former estimates of population are so little trustworthy, that it is
unfortunately hopeless to attempt to Difficulty until our information is more found on the present census any esti
complete of estimating the progress of . , . /■ Ai
the population. mate whatever ot the progress of the
population as a whole, or of the rate of increase or decrease in any part of the country. To get any such estimate at a future day, we must depend on the life statistics of which we are just making a commencement, and on the comparative results which a future census may show. We can only try, in the course of certain inquiries of a statistical character which are now set on foot, to ascertain whether there is good evidence that certain districts have much increased in population and cultivation, and that such increase has been general.
It will also be necessary to inquire whether certain districts have decreased. The estimates of population made by Dr. Buchanan between 1807 and 1814 of the districts he surveyed with the authority of Government, differ entirely from the official estimates accepted in those days, and in some cases show a curious approximation to the figures of the recent census. It is impossible now to attach the exact value which should be accorded to Buchanan's figures; but the districts which from a comparison with his conclusions would seem to have largely decreased in population, viz. the conterminous districts of Dinagepore, Maldah, aud Purneah, are precisely those which we know to be among all the districts of the Gangetic plain abnormally low in population. So far as we have information regarding the condition and regarding the rates of land revenue and rent of these districts at the present time and at the time of the permanent settlement, it would seem that they have prospered less than any other districts of Bengal, and are now altogether relatively in a much lower position than they were at the end of the last century. Within these districts the ruins of the city of Gour testify that in some places at any rate disease has worked a great depopulation. The census report but too clearly points to the evidences of a serious effect on the population of the Burdwan district, caused by the disease which we are now endeavouring to combat. If the population there has not yet actually diminished, as compared to previous periods, it seems but too clear that the number of persons in each household is now abnormally low in the fever tracts.
On the other hand there are apparently general reasons for believing the growth of population in Bengal to be very rapid. We will know this when our inquiries are more complete after another census, but Mr. Beverley's disquisition on the large proportion of children in these provinces seems to show that births are more numerous than they are in England and in other western countries. "Everybody," it has been said, "marries; an unmarried man of twenty-five, or an unmarried girl of fifteen, are hardly to be found. As soon as girls become marriageable, generally before, husbands are without difficulty found for them. Marriage is a thing which happens of course—a necessary part of life. The people live a regular, sober, domestic life, and seldom leave their homes, not being called upon for the performance of military service or public labour, or servitude, so common in most countries. Very few marriages are unproductive. Among the causes of increase is to be reckoned the extreme facility of rearing children. Here no infants perish of cold. As soon as a child is weaned, it lives on rice, goes naked for two or three years, and requires no care whatever. Poverty scarcely ever prevents a man from rearing a family of children."
The question whether an excessive birth-rate is counterbalanced by a higher rate of mortality than in Europe, is one of the most important and interesting statistical problems which we may now hope soon to solve. The fact can only be conclusively demonstrated when a system of mortuary returns shall have been established upon a satisfactory basis. It is, however, believed, by those who have most carefully studied the question, that the rate of mortality is higher; and it is evident that prima facie causes are not wanting to produce such a result.
The five provinces under the Bengal Government have already _ been described in a former chapter of
TOTAL ABEi 1SD POPULATION. ^, . . . . , .11.
this report; their total area, including tributary estates, is 248,231 square miles*, with an aggregate population, as we have seen, of 66,856,859 souls.
* See Note on page 118.
In all the Central and Western districts of these provinces, including the tributary estates of Orissa and Chota Nagpore, the census was fully carried out; but it was not completely effected in some of the Eastern border districts, where there were political difficulties, increased by the circumstances that a house or poll-tax is the ordinary form of taxation in the unsettled Indo-Burmese districts. The Chittagon": Hill Tracts and Garo Hills (so far as they own British allegiance) being the scene of war or uneasiness, it was avowed that a full census could not be taken. Some of the Assam tribes beyond the ordinary laud revenue settlement were not counted; and especially in the farthest district of Upper Assam (Lukhimpore) considerable tracts of country marked as British territory and inhabited by tribes who owe us a theoretical allegiance, but who in practice are not very directly ruled, were omitted. Owing to administrative accidents the Terai under the Darjeeling Hills and the adjoining Bhutan Dooars (ceded by Bhutan after the late war) were not properly counted. Sikkim, Hill Tipperah, and the Nagas and j«rt«?-iudependent tribes of Assam, were neither counted nor estimated, because though within our political system, they are not administered by us, and for the most part have not been explored. Bhutan and the Himalayan tribes to the east are wholly and entirely independent. Munipore is not under this Government.
Altogether under direct and indirect British administration the population of Bengal may be said to amount in round numbers to 67 millions; of this total 2 millions may be taken as the population of the tributary estates, in which the Rajahs and Chiefs exercise a prescribed jurisdiction, subject in greater matters to British courts and officers. Nearly 1,300,000 are in the Orissa tributary mehals, 400,000 in those of Chota Nagpore, and the remaining 300,000 may be taken to represent the tribes in the Eastern frontier imperfectly counted.
This leaves 65 millions under direct British administration ; of these nearly 37 millions are in the great central province of Bengal proper. The Hindoostanee-speaking provinces are just about half the area and population of Bengal; the population being 18J millions, or, including the Sonthal Pergunnahs now attached to Bhaugulpore, upwards of 19J millions. Orissa, excluding the tributary estates, is just over 3 millions; Chota Nagpore, similarly excluding such estates, has about 3£ millions, mostly aboriginal in blood; and 2 millions are in Assam, including the (iowalpara district now attached to Cooch Behar, but geographically connected with Assam.
The density of the population is thus, as we should have expected, _ subject to the widest variation.
DEN8ITT OP IHB POPULATION. •
Bengal proper, which occupies not much more than a third of the whole area, contributes more than half the population; Behar proper, with one-sixth of the total area, supplies three-tenths of the population; the provinces of Assam and Chota Nagpore are as large as Behar, yet they have only a ninth and a fifth part of its population respectively. The average number of persons to the square mile is 465 in Behar, 389 in Bengal, 181 in Orissa, 87 in Chota Nagpore, and 51 in Assam. The average density of population over the whole area of these provinces is 269 to the square mile. Ia the United Kingdom it is 262; in Germany it is 189; in Fiance it is 180.
Putting aside the hilly districts on the frontiers, the plains of Bengal and Behar may be said to comprise in round numbers about 100,000 square miles with a population of 53 millions, giving throughout this great tract an average of 530 souls per square mile.
The district of Hooghly is the most populous in Bengal. The average density of its population is 1,045 to the square mile. Its thinest thannahs, the most northern and most southern respectively, have a density of nearly 700 souls to the square mile. There is a concentrated population in the towns and great villages, containing a mercantile and fishing community which fringe the river Hooghly in the Hooghly district. But apart from this we 6nd in the back-lying thannahs an immense population. In Doomjoor, next to Howrah, the population rate is 1,417 per mile. The agricultural thannahs of Juggutbullubpore, Amptah, Khanakool, and Chandeepore of Hooghly, and the adjacent thannahs of Daspore, Panchkoorah, and Debra of Midnapore, are a lowlying water tract stretching from behind Howrah to near Midnapore, without a single town, and yet they have a population fully equal to or exceeding 1,000 per square mile of gross area. In the district of Sarun in the Patna division, where the density of the population is second only to Hooghly, there are several rural thannahs, where the population averages above 900 to the square mile. In the small and entirely rural sub division of Mooushigunge in the Dacca district, the population is 459,874, with a density of 1,081 souls to the square mile.
Speaking less specially, the most populous parts of the country are:—
(1) The metropolitan districts of 24-Pergunnahs Sq. miles.
and Hooghly, with Howrah, comprising 4,220
(2) The districts of Dacca, Furreedpore, and
(3) The district of Rungpore 3,476
(4) Patna, Tirhoot, and Sarun in Behar .. 11,098 These nine districts, with an aggregate area of 25,153 square
miles, have all an average population of over 600 persons to the square mile.
Next to the above, as regards the density of their population, come the seven districts of Burdwau, Beerbhoom, Nuddea, Jessore, Moorshedabad, Rajshahye, and Tipperah, all in Bengal proper, with an area aggregating 19,413 square miles and a population of between 500 and 600 persons to the square mile.
In eleven districts the population is from 400 to 500 in the square mile, viz. in Midnapore, Bogra, Cooch Behar, Backergunge, Chittagong, Noakhally, Gya, Chumparun, Monghyr, Bhaugulpore, and Cuttack; their total area aggregates 36,547 square miles.
But though Behar and the Gangetic delta are thus densely populated, there remain large tracts of territory in these provinces with a population of less than 200 souls to the square mile. Maunbhoom is the only district in Chota Nagpore which has more than this average population. In Assam there is no district with a population anything like it. Of the total area of Bengal, including tributary estates, only one-half exceeds this proportion; yet in Europe an average density of even 200 souls to the square mile would be considered a tolerably abundant population. It is a density which not even Germany as yet possesses.
The Bengal provinces * comprise 200,938 villages, townships or communes. The people reside in 11,383,498 houses. The average area of the lands of each commune is l'OO square miles, and the average number of souls to each commune is 325*55. The average number of souls to each house is 5'74, or rather more than 5i.
The populations under the administration of the LieutenantGovernor comprise several distinct The Vaeious Backs And Languages. ,. .... rhi_ j.- ,..•
nationalities. These nationalities arc
mainly resident in their several provinces; but as the national boundary does not in all cases precisely correspond with the provincial boundary, it may be mentioned that Bengal is inhabited throughout by Bengalis of Bengali language and manners, and that they slightly overpass the Bengal boundaries. A small part of the Purneah district
may be said to be Bengali. Bengalis engais' are also resident in some number
in parts of the Sonthal Pergunnahs, and people speaking that language are numerous in the Maunbhoom district of Ohota Nagpore. Altogether the Bengali-speaking people may be taken to be about 38 millions.
The people of Behar are Hindoostanees, speaking the same language,
and in their manners, &c, identical Hindoostanees. with ^ forty or fifty mMonB
of Hindoostanees who inhabit the North-Western Provinces, Oudh, and. parts of the Central Provinces, Kajpootana, &c. Besides Behar proper a good many are resident in the Sonthal Pergunnahs. Throughout the largest districts of Ohota Nagpore they are numerous, and their language, manners, and civilization, are those that prevail there, as the aborigines succumb to external influences. Altogether the Hindispeaking people of these provinces number about twenty millions.
The Ooriya speakers of Orissa, plain and hill country, together, . are about four millions. This is not,
onyM* however, the whole Ooriya race, as
they form also the population of a great part of the Ganjam district in Madras, of Sumbulpore, &c, in the Central Provinces, and come somewhat over the border on the side of Bengal and Chota Nagpore.
In Assam the semi-Bengali of Gowal
Assamese. , . » ~, 3.
para and Assamese of the upper districts scarcely make up two millions.
The large number of Mahomedans found in Lower Bengal is in .„. . many respects the most interesting
Number of Mahomedans. - '» .r «. i_, A i_ ii
of the facts brought out by the census.
* Exclusive of the districts of Darjceling, Julpigoree, Cooch Behar, Hill Tipperah, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Naga Hills, KUasi and Jyutea Hills aud Garo Hills, for which the number of villages is not available,