Kalpana Kalpana (Editor)

2011 Census of India

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit

Total population

Least populous state
Sikkim (610,577)

Date taken

Percent change

2011 Census of India

Most populous state
Uttar Pradesh (199,812,341)

The 15th Indian Census was conducted in two phases, house listing and population enumeration. House listing phase began on 1 April 2010 and involved collection of information about all buildings. Information for National Population Register was also collected in the first phase, which will be used to issue a 12-digit unique identification number to all registered Indian residents by Unique Identification Authority of India. The second population enumeration phase was conducted between 9 and 28 February 2011. Census has been conducted in India since 1872 and 2011 marks the first time biometric information was collected. According to the provisional reports released on 31 March 2011, the Indian population increased to 121 crore with a decadal growth of 17.64%. Adult literacy rate increased to 74.04% with a decadal growth of 9.21%. The motto of census 2011 was 'Our Census, Our future'.


Spread across 28 states and 7 union territories, the census covered 640 districts, 5,767 tehsils, 7,933 towns and more than 6 lakh villages. A total of 27 lakh officials visited households in 7,933 towns and 6 lakh villages, classifying the population according to gender, religion, education and occupation. The cost of the exercise was approximately 2,200 crore (US$330 million) – this comes to less than $0.50 per person, well below the estimated world average of $4.60 per person. Conducted every 10 years, this census faced big challenges considering India's vast area and diversity of cultures and opposition from the manpower involved.

Information on castes was included in the census following demands from several ruling coalition leaders including Lalu Prasad Yadav, Sharad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav supported by opposition parties Bharatiya Janata Party, Akali Dal, Shiv Sena and Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. Information on caste was last collected during the British Raj in 1931. During the early census, people often exaggerated their caste status to garner social status and it is expected that people downgrade it now in the expectation of gaining government benefits. Earlier, there was speculation of conduction caste-based census in 2011, first time after 80 years since 1931, to find the exact population of Other Backward Class (OBCs) in India, which was later accepted and Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 was conducted whose first findings were revealed on 3 July 2015 by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Mandal Commission report of 1980 quoted OBC population at 52%, though National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) survey of 2006 quoted OBC population at 41%

There is only one instance of a caste-count in post-independence India. It was conducted in Kerala in 1968 by the Communist government under E M S Namboodiripad to assess the social and economic backwardness of various lower castes. The census was termed Socio-Economic Survey of 1968 and the results were published in the Gazetteer of Kerala, 1971.


C Chandramauli was the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India for the 2011 Indian Census. Census data was collected in 16 languages and the training manual was prepared in 18 languages. In 2011, India and Bangladesh also conducted their first-ever joint census of areas along their border. The census was conducted in two phases. The first, the house-listing phase, began on 1 April 2010 and involved collection of data about all the buildings and census houses. Information for the National Population Register was also collected in the first phase. The second, the population enumeration phase, was conducted from 9 – 28 February 2011 all over the country. The eradication of epidemics, the availability of more effective medicines for the treatment of various types of diseases and the improvement in the standard of living were the main reasons for the high decadal growth of population in India.


The House-listing schedule contained 35 questions.

Population enumeration

The Population enumeration schedule contained 30 questions.

National Population Register

The National Population Register household schedule contained 9 questions.

Once the information was collected and digitised, fingerprints were taken and photos collected. Unique Identification Authority of India was to issue a 12-digit identification number to all individuals and the first ID was to have been issued in 2011.

Census report

Provisional data from the census was released on 31 March 2011 (and was updated on 20 May 2013). Transgender population was counted in population census in India for first time in 2011. The official count of the third gender in India is 4.9 lakh


The population of India as per 2011 census was 1,210,193,422. India added 181.5 million to its population since 2001, slightly lower than the population of Brazil. India, with 2.4% of the world's surface area, accounts for 17.5% of its population. Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state with roughly 200 million people. A little over 5 out of 10 Indians live in the six states of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Of the 121 crore Indians, 83.3 crore (68.84%) live in rural areas while 37.7 crore stay in urban areas. 45.36 crore people in India are migrants, which is 37.8% of total population.

India is the homeland of major belief systems such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism, while also being home to several indigenous faiths and tribal religions which have survived the influence of major religions for centuries.

Ever since its inception, the Census of India has been collecting and publishing information about the religious affiliations as expressed by the people of India. In fact, population census has the rare distinction of being the only instrument that collects this diverse and important characteristic of the Indian population.

Religious demographics

The religious data on India Census 2011 was released by the Government of India on 25 August 2015. Hindus are 79.8% (966.3 million), while Muslims are 14.23% (172.2 million) in India. For the first time, a "No religion" category was added in the 2011 census. 2.87 million were classified as people belonging to "No Religion" in India in the 2011 census. - 0.24% of India's population of 1.21 billion. Given below is the decade-by-decade religious composition of India till the 2011 census. There are six religions in India that have been awarded "National Minority" status - Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis. Sunnis, Shias, Bohras, Agakhanis and Ahmadiyyas were identified as sects of Islam in India. As per 2011 census, six major faiths- Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains make up over 99.4% of India’s 121 crore population, while “other religions, persuasions” (ORP) count is 82. Among the ORP faiths, six faiths- 49.57 lakh-strong Sarna, 10.26 lakh-strong Gond, 5.06 lakh-strong Sari, Doni Polo (3.02 lakh) in Arunachal Pradesh, Sanamahi (2.22 lakh) in Manipur, Khasi (1.38 lakh) in Meghalaya dominate. Maharashtra is having the highest number of atheists in the country with 9,652 such people, followed by Meghalaya (9,089) and Kerala.

Population trends for major religious groups in India (1951–2011)


Any one above age 7 who can read and write in any language with an ability to understand was considered a literate. In censuses before 1991, children below the age 5 were treated as illiterates. The literacy rate taking the entire population into account is termed as "crude literacy rate", and taking the population from age 7 and above into account is termed as "effective literacy rate". Effective literacy rate increased to a total of 74.04% with 82.14% of the males and 65.46% of the females being literate.

  • The table lists the "crude literacy rate" in India from 1901 to 2011.
  • References

    2011 Census of India Wikipedia