Literacy in India – A deepR dive

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You can do magic!
You can have anything,
That you desire
You can do magic – song by America (1982)

That is exactly how I feel when I write code in R. A few lines of R, lo behold, hundreds of rows and columns are magically transformed into  easily understandable graphs, regression curves or choropleth maps. (By the way, the song is a really cool! Listen to it if you have not heard it before). You really can do magic with R

In this post I do a deep dive into literacy in India The dataset is taken from Open Government Data (OGD) platform India was used for this purpose. This data is based on the 2001 census. Though the data is a little dated, it is extremely rich with literacy details across different age groups, and over all Indian States. The data includes the total number of persons/males/females who are in the primary, middle.matric, college,technical diploma, non-technical diploma and so on. In fact the data also includes the educational background of people in the districts in each state. I slice and dice the data across multiple parameters. I have created an interactive Shiny App which will provide very detailed visualization based on the parameters chosen

Do try out my interactive Shiny app : IndiaLiteracy

The entire code for this app is on GitHub. Feel free to download/clone/fork/modify or enhance the code – literacyInIndia

For analyzing   such a rich data set as the Census data of 2001, I create 4 tabs
1) State Literacy
2) Educational Levels vs Age
3) India Literacy and
4) District Literacy

Here are the details of these 4 tabs in my Shiny app

A) State Literacy
This tab provides the age wise distribution of people (Persons/Males/Females) who attend educational institutions. This is shown as a barplot. The plot also includes the national average. In the plot below which is for entire India we see that the national average


The distribution of females attending educational institutions in the state of Haryana is shown. Also included is the national average. As can be seen there are options for (Total/Urban/Rural) against (Persons/Males/Females) and whether these people attend educational institutions are illiterate of literate.


I also have another option under “Who’ which is “All” This will plot the age wise distribution of males/females/persons in urban/rural or entire state.


B. Educational Institutions vs Age plot

This plot displays the the educational institutions attended by people in a particular age group. So for example in the state of Orissa for the 18 year age group we can see that there persons who are in (Primary, Matric, Higher Secondary, Non-Technical Diploma and Technical Diploma). The bar length for each color is the percentage of the total persons at that level of education


C. Literacy across India
This tab plots a chorpleth map for a region(Urban+Rural, Urban, Rural), Who(Persons, Males, Females) and the literacy level (attending educational institutions, primary, higher secondary, Matric etc) across the whole of India.


D. Literacy within a state
This tab plots a chorpleth map of literacy in the districts of a state. A sample plot for Karnataka is shown below


E. Key observations

There is a wealth of insights you can glean by looking at the various charts. Here a few insights from my initial observations
1) The literacy in Kerala across ages is higher than the national average while in Bihar it is less than the national average

a) Kerala

8b) Bihar

2) In Rajasthan The Males Attending education instituions is higher than the national average while for females it less than the national average. However the situation is reverse in Chandigarh where there are the percentage of females attending education instiuons is higher than the national average and the males

a) Rajasthan

10b) Chandigarh

3) When we look at the number of persons attending educational institution across India the north-eastern states lead with Manipur, Nagaland and Sikkim in the top 3.


We have heard that Kerala is the most literate state. But  it looks like Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim actually edge Kerala out. If we look at the State literacy chart for Kerala and Manipur this becomes more clear

a) Kerala


b) Manipur


It can be seen that in Manipur the number of persons attending educational instition in the age range 13-24 years it is much higher than the national average and much higher than Kerala

4) If we take a look at the District wise literacy for the state of Bihar we see that the literacy is lower in the north eastern districts.,


5) Here is another interesting observation I made. The top 3 states which are most ‘literate with no education’ are i) Rajasthan ii) Madhya Pradesh iii) Chhattisgarh


While I have included several charts with accompanying explanation, this is largely unnecessary as  most of the charts are self-explanatory.

Do try out the Shiny app and see for yourself the literacy in each state/district/age group educational  level etc – IndiaLiteracy

Feel free to clone/fork my code and make your own enhancements –literacyInIndia

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