The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Finally, a chance to be No. 1

New Delhi, July 11: No. 1 in HIV in 2006' No way, the Indian government thundered in Bangkok today.

No. 1 in population in 2035' Most probably, and it’s official.

India will pull past China as the world’s most populous country in 30 years, according to official figures released today — the World Population Day.

“India has touched a population of over 1.02 billion as of March 1 this year. At 0000 hours the country’s population stood at 1,027, 015, 247 comprising 531,277,078 (roughly 53.2 crore) men and 495,738,169 (49.6 crore) women,” registrar general and census commissioner J.K. Banthia has said.

By 2035, the population would touch 146 crore and exceed China’s at the present growth rate of 1.94. The population touched the 100-crore mark in May 2000.

India added 182 million people between 1991 and 2001, which is more than the estimated population of Brazil, officials said on the basis of a final tally of the 2001 census.

Uttar Pradesh was the most populous state with 16.6 crore, followed by Maharashtra (9.7 crore), Bihar (8.3 crore) and Bengal (8 crore). The population of Uttar Pradesh is more than the population of Pakistan, he said.

The census showed that 35 per cent of Indians still could not read or write. Just over half of women were literate. At the same time, the child sex ratio has slipped from 945 females per 1,000 males in 1991 to 927 in 2001, the census showed.

India’s 2001 census figures reveal that the number of scheduled castes is more than 16.6 crore and the number of scheduled tribes 8.4 crore. The literacy rate of persons above seven years was 64.8 per cent compared to 52.2 per cent in 1991. Among males, 75.2 per cent and 53.6 per cent of females were literate.

Opinions of demographers and economists on the impact of the huge population on livelihoods are contrary. Some experts suggest intelligent use of the “vast human resource” for the all-round development of the country. Others insist the size of the population is a burden.

“We should not adopt all the approaches to achieve a zero population growth rate just because our country is the second to have a population of over one billion without taking measures to provide primary healthcare, family planning and education into the population control programme,” said A.R. Nanda, the chairman, Population Foundation of India.

“Though there are some pockets in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where the growth rate is high, fertility rate in those areas has also decreased,” he said.

“China was close to zero growth in 1980 when they brought out the one-child regulation and that badly disturbed the gender equation. We should learn from the Chinese experience.”

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