Kerala sees decline in Dalit population; Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra lead

Kerala is the only state in which the population of scheduled caste sections has fallen in India between 2001 and 2011, according to the latest census numbers.

In Kerala, which has arguably the highest living standard in India, scheduled caste population fell by 2.7% in the ten years to 30.4 lakh from 31.2 lakh in 2001.


During the same ten year period, Kerala’s overall population increased by 4.9%.

As a result of the mismatch, the overall share of scheduled caste communities in Kerala population fell to 9.1% in 2011 from 9.8% ten years earlier. During the same period, the number of scheduled tribe members in Kerala increased from 1.14% to 1.5%.

In terms of proportion to the overall population, the highest representation for scheduled caste communities was in Punjab, where 31.94% population enjoyed scheduled caste reservation.

Punjab was followed by Himachal Pradesh (25.2%), West Bengal (23.5%) and Uttar Pradesh (20.7%).

The lowest proportion of scheduled caste population was in Goa, where just 1.74% enjoyed the reservation, and Gujarat, which had just 6.7% of population that had this reservation.


In terms of the growth of scheduled caste communities, Chhatisgarh led from the front with a 35.4% jump in ten years to 32.7 lakh in 2011.

Maharashtra, home of BR Ambedkar, was close behind with a 34.34% growth. Maharashtra is a state where the scheduled caste communities are the most advanced, and a large proportion of them have abandoned the traditional Brahmanic Vedic religion in favor of the Buddhist religion. In the ten years to 2011, the population of scheduled communities in Maharashtra increased by a whopping to 1.33 crore from 98.8 lakhs. During the same period, the overall population in Maharashtra increased only by 16%. As a result, the proportion of scheduled castes in the overall Maharashtra population increased during the ten years to 11.81% from 10.2%.

On a pan-India basis, the proportion of scheduled castes in the total population increased from 16.2% to 16.6% during the ten years. Scheduled caste population increased 20.8% in ten years, while overall Indian population increased 17.7%. It must be kept in mind that part of the increase may be due to new communities being included in the schedule.

Mahrashtra was followed by Bihar, where scheduled caste population increased by 27% during the same decade. In the same period, the overall population in Bihar increased by 25.4%, the highest rate of population growth in India.

In terms of general population growth, Bihar was followed by Jammu and Kashmir at 23.6%, Chhattisgarh at 22.6% and Jhakhand at 22.4%. The lowest overall population growth was in Kerala, where it increased only by 4.9% in ten years, and Goa, where it increased only 8.2%.