The population conundrum

Mauritius is a country in the Indian Ocean with a population of 1.2 million people. India (the country from which, incidentally, the Indian Ocean gets its very name) has 1.2 billion people – which is exactly 1000 times the population of Mauritius.

This fact struck me as we were driving across Mauritius last month. As we drove past the softly rolling country, I got to see huge expanse of land on both sides of the road with very little sign of human habitation – totally unlike what one sees in India. Clearly this was a country with a small population.

Till I thought a bit more about it and decided to dig further and examine this whole population issue from the density perspective. Population density of a country is the number of people living in a square kilometre and should normally reflect how congested living conditions are likely to be in that country. Here is what I found:

India has a population density of 382 & Mauritius has a population density of 631. Which means that Mauritius has double the number of people of India living in one square kilometre. So, why is it that India feels so crowded and Mauritius so open?

The answer – India’s overcrowded & over populated cities. India is not as crowded a country as seems to us urban folk. Those of us who have spent time travelling in the rural interiors of India (especially in the North) have encountered large tracts of land with very little signs of human habitation. The problem of crowding seems to a uniquely urban phenomenon. So I looked up some more numbers.

Here is the population density of some of India’s top cities:

Delhi – 9340

Mumbai – 21,261

Bangalore – 4378

The problem, though lesser, continues into some of the smaller cities as well:

Ahmedabad – 890

Kanpur – 1449

Coimbatore – 748

So clearly, we need to quickly figure out how to make Indian cities less congested & so more livable.

Incidentally, the world average for population density is just 45.3 people per square kilometre of land area. A good target to try to get to.


2 thoughts on “The population conundrum

  1. Interesting post. Informative as well. It could help if the entrepreneurs decide to embrace tier 2 cities and even towns. The initial set up and managing multiple offices across the country may seem a little overwhelming at first, but then pretty much most successful companies expand eventually.

    This could help de-congest cities and cut down on costs in many ways. For instance, having an employee relocate from say a town in northern karnataka, and paying him 40 thousand a month is pretty much the same as having him work out a base up north and paying him 20 k.

    Infrastructure and amenities may pose threats, but cities didn’t have them at first. Like here in Bangalore, we’re still don’t!

    Maybe you could lead others with this.

  2. Incidentally Tourism can play a big role in getting reverse migration in place, a million spent in travel and tourism creates 78 jobs, highest for any sector . With more and more Destinations coming up and new found interest in exploring new places, this will happen sooner than expected. As we know, now India has got in excess of 1500 destinations and count is increasing.

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