INTRODUOTORY. The total area of Palamau district is 4,921 square miles according to the area figures of the constituent units, e.g., police stations. According to the report of Surveyor-General of India the area of the district is 4,896 square miles. The difference between the two figures is not
much and may be ignored. There are 3,202 villages and 3 towns and 1,78,775occupied houses altogether, The urban population is 37,007 as against the rural population of 9,48,760 souls.
The population of the district according to 1872 census was 4,23,795 souls. The following statement will show the variation in the population of the district since 1901 as mentioned in the District Census Hand-book for Palamau, 19511 :-
The administrative history of the district has been indicated in the Chapter on General Administration. It may, however, be reiterated here that Palamau pargana had first formed a part of the district of Ramgarh . In1834 this pargana was transferred to the district of Lohardaga and in 1853 Palamau was made a subdivision of Lohardaga. In 1863 Daltonganj was selected as the headquarters of the subdivision. In 1892 Palamau became a full-fledge district.
1. The figures of the growth of population referred to later in older Gazetteers slightly differ from the figures of the District Census Hand-Book. Variations are slight and may be ignored.
Growth of populations naturally connected with the administrative changes. The first attempt formaking an enumeration of the population of Palamau pargana was made by Captain Degree at the time of Topographical Survey of Chotanagpur in 1868. W.W. Hunfer in his Statistical Account of Lohardaga District, published in 1877, refers to Captain Depree's enumeration. Captain Depree, however, did not base his enumeration on much of a scientific basis and it was not possible at that time to adopt much of a correct technique. Captain Depree at a random survey calculated the number of houses and arrived at the figure of 6.84 persons per house. According to Depree's technique the total population of the district of Lohardaga including the parganas of Tori and Palamau was 14,12,956 and the population of Palamau and Tori was 5,30,961. Very little reliance can be put on Capt. Depree's figures but the fact is mentioned as he was a pioneer.
In l869, there was an experimental census by the Deputy Commissioner of Lohardaga. This census also was not based on much of the present-day technique. The population of the district of Lohardaga was calculated in 1869 to be 13,96,471 persons or 16,485 less than the estimate of Capt. Depree. This fact alone in a census taken within a year of Depree's enumeration would snow that neither of the calculations was very correct, as the experimental census of 1869 was based on the calculation of the village watchmen who could neither read nor write.
A regular census was taken during the cold weather of 1871-72.This census was done with proper precautions and the results disclosed a total population in Lohardaga of 12,37,123 souls inhabiting 2,40,843 houses and the density of the district 103 souls to the square miles Palamau sub division consisting of the police -circles Bareswar, Chhattarpur,
Daltonganj, Garhwa, Munka, Majhiwan, Patan, Ramkunda gave the area of 4,260 square miles, 2,667 villages or townships, 68,719 houses, and a total population of 3,66,519 and the density of population was 86 persons per square mile. It is to be mentioned here that although
Japla and Belaunja areas had been transferred to Palamau in 1871 the census of these areas was not included in the figures for Palamau as mentioned by Hunt in his Statistical Account of Lohardaga. Taking the area of Japla and Belaunja, the population in 1872 was 4,23,795 souls for Palamau, the area in square mile was 4,910 and the density remained at 86 persons per square mile.
The next census in 1881, however, recorded the population at 5,51,075 which indicated a growth of not less than 30 per cent suggesting that the previous census had also loopholes. The census in 1891 recorded the population at 5,96,770 souls and the increase during the decade came to 8.3 per cent. The next census in 1901 disclosed a further increase of 22,803persons the total population being recorded as 6,19,600. The census of 1911 gave the population of 6,87,710 souls. It may be said that the census techniques were being made more reliable.
The population figures quoted earlier Of the different censes years elicited the following observations from P. C. Tallents, L.C.S., in the Revised Edition of Palamau District Gazetteer published in 1926:-
"Between 1891 and 1901the rate of progress was retarded owing to two famines in 1897 and 1900, and a high death-rate in the latter year: an actual loss of population occurred in the east, of the district. The rate of increase was accelerated again in the following decade between 1901 and 1911, especially in the south of the district; in Hussainabad in the north there was a slight decrease. Between 1911 and 1921 there was a further increase, though at a reduced rate. No special circumstance affected the health of the population during these ten years until 1918. The rainfall of that year was above the normal, but its distribution was fatal. The monsoon broke late, and the time available for ploughing was so curtailed that the people in many cases sacrificed the bhadai for the aghani crops. In July floods occurred that completely upset all ideas then obtaining on the subject of high flood levels, and most of the maize and other bhadai crops that had been sowed were washed away. By tile middle of August the rains had practically stopped and by the middle of September they had stopped altogether. On the unirrigated lands, which are for the most part in the possession of the smaller tenants, the rice crop was a failure, and the area sown with rabi crops as only of half its usual extent. The district was only saved from a disaster by the reserve of wealth that had been accumulate as the result of several years of good crops and the boom in the lac trade during the war, and thanks also to a good mahua crop. Meanwhile the suffering caused by the influenza epidemic of this year was greater than in any other district of the province: the death-rate from 'fever' rose to the unparalleled height of 59.2 per mille and the total number of deaths recorded in the year was 49,000 or 14,000 in excess of the number of births. The epidemic continued during the first months of the following year and the birth-rates of the next two years were naturally low. In spite of the disasters the increase of population during the decade was 45,684 or 6.64 per cent. The increase was greatest in Chhattarpur, Hussainabad and Garhwa, while losses occurred in Ranka, Mahuadanr, and Balumath. Generally speaking, the population increased in the north, where it was most, and decreased in the south, where it was least dense.'"
The census of 1931 recorded an increase of 11.64 per cent and the population growth appears to have been much more rapid in the Latehar subdivision, which had come rota being in 1925.
The general incidence of health was also reported to be better than the previous decade. The 1941census gave an increase of 11.5 per cent and the growth of population appears to be due mostly to natural accretion.
In the last decade 1941-50 the population of the district has increased by 8 per cent only. There was a flare-up of cholera in this period. The fall in the growth-rate appears to be due to the decrease in the birth-rate. This also was partially due to a virtual collapse of properly reporting vital statistics because of 1942 movement.
The following statement will show the percentage variation in the population of subdivisions and revenue thanas during the last two decades:-
It will be seen that the above figures show that the increase in population was fairly well distributed among the two subdivisions as also among revenue thanas. In the last decade, however, there has been much greater increase in population in the sadar subdivision than in
Latehar, and generally speaking the population of the densely populated thanas has grown faster than that of sparsely populated thanas. There has been a substantial decrease in the population of Balumath thana, and low increase in Ranka and Mahuadanr. Hussainabad which has comparatively speaking, a moderately dense population has remained stationary. Out of 21 thanas now only Daltonganj and Garhwa are densely populated. Some of the thanas like Ranka, Mahuadanr, Garu and Bhandaria are very thinly populated. One could go miles and miles by the main road connecting the thana headquarters without seeing a hamlet. Although a subdivisional headquarters for 35 years Latehar is still a township.
The availability of virgin land in Palamau district had been one or the causes of the earlier incidence of immigration. The flow of immigrants to the district has never been very marked since 1901 but there has been a slow incidence through all the decades. Immigrants
are mostly from the neighbouring districts of Gaya and Shahabad. In the recent years the various resources have attracted immigrants. A moiety of the immigrants consists of mahajans and business people. The recorded number of immigrants in some of the census years may be discussed. In 1901 the number was 38,838 representing 6.26 per cent of the population. Apparently this was due to the undeveloped state of the district and the large area awaiting reclamation which invited a large number of immigrants from the neighbouring districts. The total number of immigrants in 1911 was 35,758 while in 1921 the figure
came down to 24,246. As an abbreviated census was done in 1941 immigration figures for this census are not available. In 1951 census the total number of immigrants was recorded as 35,425.
There used to be a regular recruitment of imported labour to the tea districts of Assam and Duars from Palamau district in the past. Emigration to the tea districts of Duars was not regulated but emigration to Assam was regulated under the Inland Emigration Act and was controlled by the Assam Labour Board. For decades there was an Agent for the Tea Districts Labour Association in Daltonganj who used to control the operation of the recruiting Sirdars for the district. The system of recruitment through Sirdars was substituted in place of a wholesale recruitment through any possible agency and even giving a false allurement. The Daltonganj depot of the Tea Districts Labour Association has been abolished since 1956 and the flow of emigration to the, tea districts has considerably decreased. Some recruitment of the men of Palamau is now done through Ranchi depot. It is reported that the figures were 142 in 1956, one in 1957and 154 in 1958. There was in the past also a small flow of emigration to the neighbouring area of Mirzapur and Surguja. It is not possiole to collect the figures.
The number of emigrants, i.e., persons born in Palamau but enumerated elsewhere in 1901, was 32,210 or 5.19 per cent of the population. O'Malley thought that the figure was not correct as many people born in Palamau might have given out that they were born in Lohardaga, the name of the old district of Ranchi and had been returned as such.
The incidence of emigration in 1911 and 1921 was near about 5.5 and 4.81 respectively of the actual population. After 1921 the figure of emigration of individual district to other States of India was not compiled and emigration figures are available only for those who have been enumerated within the State. The incidence of emigration from 1931is not very marked. In 1951 census 23,327 persons born in Palamau district were enumerated in other districts of Bihar.
RURAL-URBAN POPULATION. As mentioned before the district is primarily rural. In 1951 census the rural population was recorded at 9,48,760 as against the urban population of 37,007. The urban-rural ratio is 1 :26 according to 1951 census. There were only three towns, namely, Daltonganj, Garhwa and Hussainabad.* The index of urbanisation has been extremely slow as the following figures of population of the towns from 1901 onwards will show:-
The 3,202 villages have 1,73,048 houses. The growth of rural population is not very marked. The villages are generally very small and scattered. For postal purposes Palamau district is an extremely difficult one owing to the very scattered nature and the small population of the villages.
Displaced persons from West Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province which are now included in Pakistan began to arrive in Bihar from July, 1947. The influx was rapid and a considerable number of displaced persons began to pour in the different parts of Bihar from the West Pakistan, but large-scale movement did not begin until the second quarter of 1950 when there were fresh communal disturbances in East Pakistan. According to the census of 1951 the total number of displaced persons in Palamau was 726. Out of it 370 were males and 356 females. The break-up figures were as follows:-
LANGUAGE The observations made by P. C. Tallents in the last RevisedDistric Gazetteer of Palamau (1926) still hold good:-
“The great majority of the people speak the dialect of Bihari Hindi Known as Bhojpuri, but in the north-east the Magahi dialect is used. The purer of Bhojpuri, known as Standard Bhojpuri, is spoken in the strip of country along the bank of the Son, but the dialect here spoken has several divergences from the language spoken in Shahabad. In the remainder of the district the people speak a corrupt form of Bhojpuri which has undergone modifications, partly by the influence of the Magahi dialect, which surrounds it on three sides, and of the Chhattisgarhi spoken to its vocabulary which belong to the languages of the non-Aryan population. It is generally known as Nagpuria or the languages of Chotanagpur proper; but it is also known as 'Sadri', and is called by the non-Aryan Mundas 'Dikku Kaji' or the language of the Dikkus or foreigners. The word Sadri in this part of the country is applied to the language of the settled as apart from the unsettled population; thus the corrupt form of Chhattisgarhi, which is spoken by the semi-Aryanised Korwas who have abandoned their original Munda language, is known as Sadri Korwa, as compared with the true Korwa language belonging to the Munda family which is still spoken by their wilder brethren.l
“Magahi, i.e., the dialect of Magadha or South Bihar, is current in the north-east of Palamau, and does not differ in any material respect from the language spoken in the adjoining district or Gaya.
"Oraon or Kurukh is spoken mainly in the south or the district; and Munda dialects by various tribes of aboriginal descent."
According to the languages spoken the figures in 1951 census are as
Hindi ... ... ... 9,10,193
Bengali ... ... ... 2,630
Marwari ... ... ... 468
Punjabi ... ... ... 416
Gujrati ... ... ... 226
Oriya ... ... ... 176
Nepali ... ... ... 46
Other Indo-Aryan languages ... ... 116
RELIGION AND CASTE. The population broadly consist of Hindus, Mohammedans, Christians and Adibasis. The break-up figures are as follows :-
Hindu ... ... ... 8,71,261
Mohammedan ... ... ... 97,403
Christian ... ... ... 3,666
Aclibasis ... ... ... 2,741
These figures are according to 1951 census. The population of Christians clearly appears to be an under-estimate for in Mahuadanr thana alone there are said to be more than 20,000 Christians. The Assistant Commissioner of Tribal Welfare puts this figure at near about 21,000 for Mahuadanr thana only. The number of Adibasis will include most of the persons returned as Christians. The average enumerator may not have always correctly recorded some of the Adibasis who definitely follow a higher standard of life as Adibasis. It is also a notorious fact that the nomenclature of Hindu is applied in a loose manner.
The figures of the division of the population according to religion as indicated before quoted from the District Census Hand-Book of Palamau based on 1951 census figures are apparently not very acceptable. The figure of Christians and Adibasis are clearly incorrect. Apparently the figures for Hindus comprise the bulk of the Adibasis. Apart from these sections, there are Sikhs and Jains who form a very small but influential section of the population. Members of these communities are mostly businessmen and in quest of business they have gone into the very interior of the district. The figures for the Sikhs and Jains were 483 and 197 respectively in the census of 1951. Unfortunately, these figure are also peculiar. Among the Jains there are 87 males and 10 females. Among the Sikhs there are 168 males and 315 females.
Out of the total population of 9,85,767 the number of the Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes is 4,89,802. The break-up figures are as follows:-
Scheduled Castes ... ... ... 2,19,615
Scheduled Tribes ... ... ... 1,72,027
Backward Classes ... ... ... 98,160
Some of the classes of Hindus belong to the so-called higher castes like Brahmins, Rajputs and Bhumihars. It has to be stated that some of the Brahmin families were originaily imported as priests. Long contact with the indigenous population has brought about some changes in their complex. It is only in this district that even in Brahmin families only a few decades back the bridegroom stooped and touched the toe of the bride and swore to be faithful to her. This is what is usual with the Cheros. Some of the Bhumihars are big cultivators but they do not plough themselves. Quite a number of Bhumihar families have made their mark as timber contractors or as other businessmen. The other class of Hindus that is very influential in the district is the Ahirs. They are the great pastoral people and in Palamau they trace their origin to Lord Krishna. The Ahirs of Palamau have a number of sections like Kishunaut, Majhraut, Kanaujia, Goria and others. The ancestors of the Kanaujia Ahirs are supposed to have migrated from Kanauj. It is peculiar that in Ahir families there are two kinds of marriages in vogue. Well-to-do Ahirs give tilak to the bridegroom and after the offering of tilak or presents when the betrothal is done the marriage is performed in the bride's house. But the other system of taking a bride price from the bridegroom party is also in vogue. Ahirs have window marriage in vogue which is known as sagai. Sindurdan is an important part of an Ahir's marriage.
It is a very common feature in Palamau district that Ahirs take out hundreds of cattle for grazing for months together at one stretch during the dry period and bring the cattle safe and even with calves. This is being mentioned to show that the pastoral economy of the district still lingers.
There are a few other numerically small classes of people but are distinct. One such class is the Athiths. Athiths wear the head gear of ochre colour and necklace of rudraksh and kanthis. Athiths are divided into two classes, Sanyasi and Grihast. Grihast Athiths follow Hindu law of inheritance. They are mostly cultivators and they carry on trade m buffalo and money-lender's profession. A somewhat detailed description of some of the important elements of the population is given below:-
This district, however, has an interesting cross-section of the population and there are a number of tribals that make a good percentage of it. It is, however, unfortunate that while the tribals of the neighbouring districts of Ranchi and Singhbhum have been studied, there has not been a proper investigation of the tribals and semi-tribals of Palamau. Some of the tribals of Palamau district like Oraons, Mundas and Kharias are found in great number in other districts as well. Shri S. C. Roy's studies of the Oraons, Mundas, and Kharias, etc., will be found interesting and generally applicable to these tribals in this district as well. There are, however, local variations in the culture complex of even these tribals within Palamau district. There has not been adequate researches into the Birjias, Nagesias, Korwahs etc. A future researcher might usefully investigate the social changes and differences of the tribals in Palamau district from their counterpart in other districts of Chotanagpur or beyond and trace the reasons. This should be an extremely important study as this district continued to be in possession of the Oraone, Mundas, Cheros and other Adibasis for a very long period continuously.
It is interesting to observe that the Oraons, Mundas, Raksels, Cheros and Kharwars claim to be the rulers of the district by turn. Some of them have been treated separately. The Adibasis appear to have been pushed out from the position of the rulers by the Raksel Rajputs. The succession of different ruling families has been diacussed in the text on Chapter History. The Raksel Rajputs in their turn had to make way for the Chero chiefs. While the Raksels ruled, they brought families of Brahmins from much beyond the district to play the part of the priests. In the 15th and 16th centuries of Christian era, it appears that the Rajputs and Brahmins had their sway in the district. With the coming of the Chera chiefs and Kharwars there was a somewhat change and orthodoxy spread into the interior. The Cheros were very religious minded. The ancestors of Chainpur, Ranka and some other well known Rajput families of the district had founded temples and encouraged Hindu orthodoxy and had contacts with advanced families beyond the district. The security that the Chero chiefs and Kharwars offered brought about development of home crafts and the growth of a number of service classes. This is the reason why even in an inaccessible village in the very interior of the district we find a solitary family of a barber, dhobi, carpenter or blacksmith which is not the case in the inaccessible or remote villages of Singhbhum or Ranchi district. From the pastoral stage the villagers had passed on to the agricultural stage quickly and there grew up the classes of cultivators and agricultural labourers, landed or landless. There also grew up a service class of bonded labour (kamia) for the field and for the household (launri) as well. In this district till only three decades back every affluent family had one, two or more families of hereditary servants attached to the household. Where a girl of such a family was married, a few of the servants, usually young in age would be sent to the bride's new home to be permanently attached there. This was in vogue in Palamau even three or four decades back.