During the period September through December 2014, the Consumer Pyramids
survey interviewed 141,000 households all over India. These households
had a total of 600,000 inhabitants. Of these, 551,000 were of
seven or more years of age. The survey captured the literacy level of
all these 551,000 inhabitants. Literacy is defined as the ratio
of those among seven years and more who have the ability to read and
comprehend in any language.
Based on the findings of this, we find that 78.2 per cent of Indians of
seven years of age and more were literate.
India is making substantial progress in at least ensuring basic literacy
of its younger population. This progress is seen in the age distribution
of literacy. Literacy is close to 95 per cent amongst children between
10 and 20 years of age today. Whereas it is lower than 56 per cent
amongst those who are 65-75 years of age; these were those who were
in the 10-20 year age bracket around independence. Many of these could
have become literate only later in life and so, the literacy rate for
children between 10 and 20 years of age around independence could have
been much lower than even 56 per cent.
The higher literacy rate of 95 per cent we see among children between
10-20 years promises a better future. It is also important to note that
10-20 years’ age-bracket is where the population pyramid bulges. This
age-bracket accounts for over 21 per cent of the total population.
But, the literacy rate falls quite sharply as the age groups rise. It
falls 6 percentage points to 89.1 per cent for the age group 20-25 years
and then to 82 per cent for 25-30 years. Thus, about 15 per cent of the
twenty-somethings, who are either entering the labour force or are a
part of the new labour force are illiterate.
While the country has made substantial progress on literacy since
independence, and while the future is promising on the literacy front,
adult literacy will remain a problem for some time to come. About
one-third of the population between 30 and 65 years, which forms the
bulk of the workforce, is illiterate.
As literacy and education improve in the coming years, the availability
of corresponding jobs for the educated is the next challenge. Skilling
India is the challenge.