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Census 2011 puts India's population at 1.21 billion

Vinay Kumar

Rise of 181 million in 10 years; decline in child sex ratio

NEW DELHI: India's population has jumped to 1.21 billion, an increase of more than 181 million during 2001-11, according to provisional data of Census 2011 released on Thursday.

Though the population is almost equal to the combined population of the U.S., Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Japan (1,214.3 million), the silver lining is that after 1911-21 the past decade (2001-11) witnessed the addition of smaller population than the previous decade's growth.

Of the total provisional population of 1,210.2 million, the number of males stood at 623.7 million and females at 586.5 million. The percentage growth in 2001-11 was 17.64 — males 17.19 and females 18.12. India's population accounts for 17.5 per cent of the world's.

Registrar-General and Census Commissioner of India C. Chandramouli released the provisional data here, in the presence of Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai. “Provisional population is arrived at by adding the population as reported by each enumerator, and the final population data is likely to be released next year,” Dr. Chandramouli told journalists.

Among the States and the Union Territories, Uttar Pradesh is the most populous State with 199 million people, followed by Maharashtra with 112 million people. Lakshadweep is the least populated at 64,429 people.

The percentage decadal growth rates of the six most populous States have declined during 2001-11 compared with 1991-2001. The population growth in Uttar Pradesh has declined from 25.85 per cent to 20.09 per cent, in Maharashtra from 22.73 per cent to 15.99 per cent, Bihar from 28.62 per cent to 25.07 per cent, West Bengal from 17.77 per cent to 13.93 per cent, Andhra Pradesh from 14.59 per cent to 11.10 per cent and Madhya Pradesh from 24.26 per cent to 20.30 per cent. “This shows that we have added population, but the growth [rate] has been less,” Dr. Chandramouli said.

The overall sex ratio nationwide has increased by seven percentage points to 940 against 933 in Census 2001. Sex ratio is defined as the number of females per 1,000 males. An increase in sex ratio was observed in 29 States/Union Territories. Kerala with 1,084 has the highest sex ratio followed by Puducherry with 1,038. With 618, Daman and Diu has the lowest ratio.

“This is the highest sex ratio at the national level since Census 1971 and a shade lower than 1961. Three major States — Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar and Gujarat — have shown a decline in sex ratio as compared to Census 2001,” Dr. Chandramouli said. India's skewed sex ratio due to female foeticide and selective sex determination has been a cause for concern.

However, the area of grave concern, Dr. Chandramouli said, remained the lowest ever child sex ratio of 914. The provisional data showed that the child sex ratio [0 to 6 years] came down to 914 females per 1,000 males against 927 in Census 2001. It showed a continuing preference for male children in the last decade.

An increasing trend in the child sex ratio was seen in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, but in the remaining States/UTs, the ratio showed a decline. While the overall sex ratio has improved since 1991, the decline in child sex ratio has been unabated since the 1961Census. The total number of children in the age group of 0-6 is now 158.8 million, less by five million since 2001.

Literacy rate up

The literacy rate has gone up from 64.83 per cent in 2001 to 74.04 per cent, an increase of 9.21 percentage points.

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