W.Chichele Plowden , ( 1883 ), Report on the Census of British India taken on the 17th February 1881 , London , Eyre and Spottiswoode , p. 1

Report on the Census of British India taken on the 17th February




The Census of the 17th February 1881 was the first synchronous enumeration which has been attempted for all India. Not that no previous count of the people had been effected in the various Provinces and States composing the British Indian Empire. In the majority of these States, and in all the British Provinces, there has been a previous census. But the enumeration in the various Provinces and States has been effected at different times and by independent agencies. There had too been no attempt to secure uniformity in the arrangement of the statistics then obtained. On the present occasion the operation has been effected upon a different principle. The work has been done under one controlling authority, and the Census was taken on one uniform date. In the British Provinces it was effected directly under the control of the Government of India by the various local administrations. In the Native States the several Governments were in communication with, and acted on the suggestions of the Census Commissioner. In some instances, notably in the Nizam's dominions, in Baroda, and in Mysore, the same form of schedule was used, and the same methods of calculation were employed as in the British Provinces, while in the remainder full information of the numbers and sexes of the population was obtained, though it was not always possible to collect statistics of age, civil condition, caste, and occupation.

2. The Census of 1881 took in, with the exception of Kashmir, the entire continent of British India, including under this term the feudatory States in political connection with the Government of India. It did not, however, include the French and Portuguese colonial possessions, though, through the courtesy of the Portuguese Government, a census of the Portuguese colonial dominions in India was effected at the same time as the British Indian Census. It also includes the outlying Province of Burmah.

3. The following are the Provinces and States dealt with in the enumeration of 1881:

British Provinces

Native States

Bengal, with its feudatory States


North-West Provinces, with Oudh and

Central India

feudatory States

The Nizam's dominions (Hyderabad)

Madras, with its feudatory States


Bombay, ditto, ditto


The Punjab, ditto












4. In the whole of these Provinces and States (with the exception of the feudatory States of the Punjab, Rajputana, Central India, and the Nizam's dominions) there were independent enumerations of the people at some date previous to the Census of 1881.

5. In a great continent like India, where the masses are uneducated, and where many of the people live in a very primitive condition, it is impossible to enumerate the population after the methods employed in the more civilized countries of Europe.