THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

India’s population reaches 1.21 billion

Washington Post / April 1, 2011

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NEW DELHI — India added more than 181 million people to its swelling population in the past decade, growing to more than 1.21 billion, according to census data released yesterday.

“We are now over 17 percent of the world population, and India is 2.4 percent of the world’s surface area,’’ said C. Chandramauli, India’s census commissioner.

The census’s most alarming finding is the continuing preference for sons over daughters in Indian society.

In the past decade, the ratio of girls to boys for children 6 and younger has plunged to 914 girls per 1,000 boys. The ratio was 927 girls to 1,000 boys in the previous census.

“This is a matter of grave concern. This is the lowest ever in the demographic history of the country,’’ Chandramauli said.

“The last census in 2001 had warned us about this; the tendency has worsened.’’

In many parts of India, female fetuses are aborted or female infants killed soon after birth by families that look upon daughters as a financial burden.

The trend is worse in the states where people are prosperous and educated, including the northern state of Punjab and the western state of Gujarat.

The practice has continued despite a government ban on the use of ultrasound tests to reveal the gender of an unborn fetus to its family.

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