Handbook on Social Welfare Statistics, 2021


This report was published by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, in March 2021. It compiles statistical data on marginalised groups across the country, such as Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs), senior citizens (those over 60 years of age), persons with disabilities and transgender persons. It provides the latest information on health, literacy, education, crime, economic status and the representation of SCs, STs and OBCs in government services.

The handbook draws on various sources such as the Crime in India 2019 report, Census of India, 2011, and other government reports.

The 486-page report is divided into eight parts: Basic demographic data (Part 1); Mortality rates and nutritional status (Part 2); Educational statistics (Part 3); Economic status (Part 4); Representation of SCs, STs, OBCs and others in central government, central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) and other institutions (Part 5); Outlay, expenditure & achievements of schemes of Department of Social Justice & Empowerment (Part 6); Rate of scholarship for Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), Other Backward Class (OBC) students whose parents are engaged in unclean occupation (Part 7); and Details of certain other schemes (Part 8).


  1. According to Census 2011, Kerala has the highest female literacy rate (92.1 per cent) followed by Mizoram (89.3 per cent) and Lakshadweep (87.9 per cent). The lowest female literacy rates in the country were found in Bihar (51.5 per cent), Rajasthan (52.1 per cent) and Jharkhand (55.4 per cent).

  2. Punjab had the highest percentage of residents belonging to Scheduled Castes – 31.94 per cent of the state’s total population. Himachal Pradesh had the second highest number with 25.19 per cent of the state’s population belonging to Scheduled Castes, followed by West Bengal with 23.51 per cent.

  3. The handbook highlights census data showing a decrease in the percentage of people belonging to Scheduled Castes in rural areas – from 79.6 per cent in 2001 to 76.4 per cent in 2011. The data also shows an increase in the Scheduled Caste population in urban areas from 20.4 per cent in 2001 to 23.6 per cent in 2011.

  4. The literacy rate among Scheduled Castes increased between 2001 and 2011 from 54.7 per cent to 66.1 per cent, the handbook cites from Census 2011. Bihar has the lowest literary rate among people from Scheduled Castes (48.6 per cent) while Daman and Diu has the highest rate (92.6 per cent).

  5. A majority of Scheduled Caste households – 55 per cent – use firewood for cooking. Around 17 per cent use liquefied petroleum gas or piped natural gas. Crop residue and cow dung cake is used by 11.3 per cent households each, while 2.9 per cent households use kerosene.

  6. The handbook cites data from the Crime in India 2019: Volume-II report. It states that 45,935 crimes were committed against people from the Scheduled Castes in the year 2019. Of these only 4,129 were booked under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The report notes that incidence of crimes against people from Scheduled Castes are highest in Uttar Pradesh (11,829 cases) followed by Rajasthan (6,794 cases) and Bihar (6,544 cases).

  7. The incidence of crimes committed against people from Scheduled Tribes in 2019 was highest in the state of Madhya Pradesh (1,922 cases) followed by Rajasthan (1,797 cases) and Odisha (576 cases).

  8. The handbook cites a 2011-12 report by the National Sample Survey Office to state that Puducherry has the highest percentage of people belonging to Other Backward Classes – 77.1 per cent of the union territory’s total population. It is followed by Tamil Nadu (76.1 per cent) and Kerala (65.3 per cent).

  9. The estimated population of senior citizens within the country in 2021 is around 141.82 million, the handbook notes. It is projected to reach 171.66 million by 2026.

  10. India’s total transgender population, as per Census 2011, is 487,803 people. Uttar Pradesh (137,465), Andhra Pradesh (43,739) and Maharashtra (40,891) have the highest population of transgender people.

  11. As per the handbook, more than 26 million people in India have disabilities. Of these almost 15 million are men and more than 11 million are women.

  12. Census 2011 observes that India has a total of 372,217 ‘beggars and vagrants’. Of these 197,725 are men and 174,492 women. The population of ‘beggars and vagrants’ is higher in rural areas (236,850) than in urban areas (135,367). About 89,761 ‘beggars and vagrants’ belong to Scheduled Castes, the handbook states.

  13. Data from the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions states that in 2019-20, around 17.41 per cent employees of the central government services belonged to a Scheduled Caste. People from Scheduled Tribes made up 7.42 per cent and people from Other Backward Classes accounted for 19.94 per cent of the total employees of the central government services in the country.

    Focus and Factoids by Akshita Hazarika.

    PARI Library's health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India


Statistics Division, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India


Statistics Division, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India


01 Mar, 2021