Census of India 1961 – Volume I: India, Part IX, Census Atlas


The 1961 Census Atlas project was initiated after the Registrar General's circular of March 1959 to the State Census Superintendents which stated that “it will be very useful to have a map for every village and ward of a town showing the broad layout of the village and the housenumbers shown therein.” By August 1960, several State Census Superintendents had set up their map sections to facilitate this idea with the then Registrar General of India, Asok Mitra, overseeing the project.

In a homage included at the beginning of the Census, Mitra remembers his colleague and author of this atlas Dr. Phularani Sengupta, who passed away before the atlas could be published. Recalling that Dr. Sengupta was appointed as the Map Officer in the Registrar General’s office from November 29, 1962, he adds that she had actually started working with the Census Commission even before then. During the early months of 1962, she had helped in the curation of contents for the atlas series.

Dr. Sengupta handled the project at the centre and supervised work on it in the states. For this, she conducted multiple-day classes with geographers, cartographers and draughtsmen from each state and union territory between December 26, 1962, and March 1, 1963.

The 1961 Census Atlas Project included the present Census Atlas of India as well as individual state and union territory atlases. The state atlases in the series carry around 170 maps with some small variations depending on if the State Census Superintendents felt certain topics deserved extra maps in addition to the standard list.

The present India volume contains 191 maps, each with an explanatory note to aid the reader’s analysis. They employ the dot method in addition to choropleth and isopleth techniques to effectively illustrate the data, and carry pie or bar graphs to show additional classifications.

While most of the maps show data gathered in the 1961 Census, they also include information sourced from various institutions like the Geological Survey of India, Forest Research Institute, All India Soil and Land use Survey, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the Meteorological Department, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Central Water and Power Commission among others.

A copy of the 1961 Census Atlas still under work was presented at the International Geographical Union’s symposium on population geography held in Delhi in November 1968 where it received much praise. However, Dr. Sengupta, who had designed the symposium and authored the atlas, had passed away earlier that month.

The 443-page atlas contains 191 maps grouped under various sections. Sections 1 and 2 are named ‘Orientation’ and ‘Physical Aspects’ respectively. Section 3 ‘Demographic Structure and Trends’ includes three sub-sections (Distribution, Density and Growth; Sex and Age Structure; and Urbanism).

Section 4 is named ‘Migration’ while Section 5 is named ‘Economic Aspects’ and includes eight sub-sections (Agriculture; The 1961 Census Industrial Categories; Population Employed in Cultivation, Agricultural Labourer, Livestock, Forestry, Fishing, Hunting and Plantations, Orchard and Allied Activities; Population Employed in Mining and Quarrying, Household Industries and Manufacturing; Electricity; Transport and Communications; Trade and Commerce; Services).

The final Section 6 ‘Socio-Cultural Aspects’ contains seven sub-sections (Castes and Tribes; Religion; Languages; Education; Housing; Health; Demographic Regions).

Focus by Swadesha Sharma.


Dr. Phularani Sengupta


Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India