India is set to become the world's most populated country after its population climbed to 1.21billion this year, census officials have revealed.
The South Asian nation - second only to China in number of people - added 181million to its numbers in the past decade alone, according to C. Chandramouli, the census commissioner.
|Children in Delhi going to school in a horse cart
Despite growth slowing in India for the first time in 90 years, that increase alone is nearly the population of Brazil. United Nations projections show that India could overtake China and its 1.34billion people as the world's most populous nation by 2030, though 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. Yet, the 17.6 percent increase was down from 21.5 in the last count a decade ago. The last time India showed slowing in population growth was in the 1921 census.
The numbers released Thursday were preliminary and official figures and analysis weren't expected to be released until next year.
The census, India's 15th since 1872, was a mammoth effort spread out over a year.
It involved 2.7million census-takers who surveyed some 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 initial numbers show a decline in the number of children under the age of six, down five million since 2001 to 158.8million.
They also indicate a continuing preference for male children over females in a country where female infanticide is still common and the government has banned doctors from revealing the sex of unborn children. A gender breakdown among children showed fewer girls than boys are being born or surviving, with 914 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6, compared to 927 for every 1,000 in the last census.
© Daily Mail, London