India's billion-plus census head count begins

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The Independent Online

Millions of census workers fanned out across the country yesterday as they began a mammoth effort to document every person in the world's second most populous country over the next three weeks.

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil was the first of the estimated 1.17 billion Indians to be counted at her pink sandstone presidential palace. Next, Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi sat with the census-takers under a banyan tree in her yard while inspecting and signing off on a 29-point questionnaire listing income, religion, education and access to basic utilities among other topics.