India begins billion-plus head count

NEW DELHI: Millions of census workers fanned out across India on Wednesday as they began a mammoth effort to document every person in the world’s second most populous country over the next three weeks. “It is the second-largest census in the world” after China, Vice President Hamid Ansari told Press Trust of India news agency after being counted. India could soon rival China as the world’s most populous country, however, with a yearly growth rate of about 1.4 percent, while China – with about 1.3 billion people – is growing at a much lower 0.49 percent, according to 2010 estimates listed by the CIA World Fact Book. Indian officials say the national count, taken every 10 years, is crucial for both the government and private sector to set relevant policies, programs and budgets. This is the second phase of the census, with the first last year listing some 300 million Indian households and estimating the population to be around 1.17 billion. President Pratibha Devisingh Patil was the first of the estimated 1.17 billion Indians to be counted at her pink sandstone presidential palace – Dailytimes

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