India's population grows to 1.21bn
India's new national census has put the population at about 1.21 billion people, or 17% of the world population, the country's census commissioner has said.
The increase of 181 million over the last decade is close to the figure officials had estimated, said Dr C Chandramouli.
While it is a 17.6% increase from the 2001 census, the rise is slower than the previous count which showed 21.5% growth.
The census indicated a continuing preference for male children over females in a country where female infanticide is still common and the government has banned hospitals from revealing the sex of unborn children to their families.
A gender breakdown showed 914 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of six, compared with 927 for every 1,000 in the last census. "This is a matter of grave concern," said Dr Chandramouli.
The literacy rate went up to 74% nationwide for people aged seven and older, from about 65% in the last census.
United Nations projections show that India could overtake China and its 1.34 billion people as the world's most populous nation by 2030, though Dr Chandramouli said a more rigorous analysis of data would be needed before India made its own projections.
India's population is now nearly equal to the combined populations of the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Japan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, he said.
The census, India's 15th since 1872, was a mammoth effort spread out over a year. It involved 2.7 million census-takers who surveyed 300 million households, noting for the first time whether people live in basic huts or concrete structures, have electricity and access to toilets and if they have spent any time in schools.
The questions will help administrators develop policies and set budgets for a nation where 800 million people live in poverty.