'Fastest census' reveals soaring population

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The Independent Online

India's population totalled 1.027 billion on 1 March, making it the second country in the world after China to cross the one-billion mark, the government said on Monday.

India's population totalled 1.027 billion on 1 March, making it the second country in the world after China to cross the one-billion mark, the government said on Monday.

According to the provisional results of a census done once every decade, the country added about 181 million people between 1991 and 2001.

But the rate of population growth slowed during the past decade by 2.52 percentage points to 21.34 per cent over the previous decade, the government said in a statement.

The huge enumeration exercise began on 7 February. Government officials said the census operation by some two million census workers covered even remote tribes and was completed in record time.

"We finished the census only on 5 March. We were able to do it in three weeks time," J G Banthia, India's registrar general and census commissioner, said. "Nobody can do it faster than us Indians."

China, which has some 1.3 billion people and accounts for a fifth of the world's population, did a census last year.

The Indian census, an exercise that has been conducted every decade since 1872, showed that a key development parameter ­ the number of females per 1,000 males ­ had improved in the past decade.

The ratio, which rose to 933 females per 1,000 males from 927 between 1991 and 2001, is an important statistic in the country where female infanticide is common in some areas. Kerala, with a sex ratio of 1,058 females to 1,000 males, had the highest ratio while the northern state of Haryana had the lowest with 861 females for every 1,000 males.

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