India's Population Grows To 1.21 Billion, 17 Per Cent Of World Population

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India has released the provisional 2011 Census report, which shows that the country's population has increased to about 1,210.2 million, or 17.5 per cent of the world population.

Literacy rate has marked a nine per cent increase, while the growth rate has reduced from 21.15 per cent to 17.64 compared to the last time the government counted heads of its citizens in 2001.

The increase of 181 million over the last decade is also the sharpest fall in growth rate since independence, according to Registrar-General and Census Commissioner of India C. Chandramauli, who released the census report in capital New Delhi on Thursday.

A positive feature was the notable growth in overall literacy rate as well as in the number of literate women. The literacy rate went up to 74 per cent from about 65 in the last census, while women outpaced men in literacy with a 12 per cent increase.

Ten States and Union Territories, mostly small in size, have attained literacy rate of above 85 per cent, the target set by the Planning Commission to be achieved by 2011-12.

The tiny southern most State of Kerala has the highest literacy rate at 93.91 per cent, and the northern backward State of Bihar is at the bottom of the list, where more than one-third of the people are illiterate.

The census indicated a continuing trend of male dominance in numbers over female. Out of a total population of 1,210.2 million, 623.7 million are males, while females account for 586.5 million.

Child sex ratio in 2011 is 914 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of six, -- the lowest since Independence, which Chandramauli said "is a matter of grave concern."

The South Asian country's population is now bigger than the combined population of the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan and Bangladesh, says the Census report.

The combined population of the north Indian States of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra outnumbers that of the United States.

The official figures and analysis of the country's latest census, which kicked off last year, will be released next year.

India's 15th census was an extensive effort involving more than 2.5 million officials who covered 240 million households in the country's 7,742 towns and cities and 600,000 villages.

India was on track to overtake China as the world's most populous country by 2030, according to the United Nations projections. 19.4 per cent of the world's people - 1.34 billion - are currently living in China.

An average of 18 million people are born every year in India, compared with an annual birth rate of 6.3 million in the Communist neighboring nation, which successfully introduced a one-child policy in 1978.

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