In 1941, Delhi’s population of 9,17,939 mostly lived in the urban areas. While 3,29,000 of them — comprising Delhi Muslims, upper class citizens as well as artisans and semi-skilled labour — moved to Pakistan during the Partition, 4,96,000 Hindu and Sikh refugees from West Punjab, Northwest Frontier Province and Sindh came to Delhi.
To accommodate the huge influx, 36 permanent rehabilitation colonies were set up, changing the face of Delhi. Lajpat Nagar, Rajendra Nagar, Patel Nagar, Tilak Nagar — almost all of these colonies were named after freedom fighters.
Most of the refugees were educated; many of them were doctors, lawyers and teachers. The 1951 Census showed that the literacy percentage of refugees was 51.8%, as compared to the 48.2% among Delhi’s residents. The 1964 Industrial Survey showed that between 1945 and 1951, the number of registered factories in Delhi grew from 227 to 431. The average earned income of a refugee was R162.80 as compared to the Rs 156.60 that a resident earned.