India - Population.
The population of India is estimated to have passed the 1 billion mark in May 2000 (1,014,000,000; July 2000 estimate). For centuries, India has been a land of startling contrasts. Maharajahs and millionaires, snake charmers and poor farmers, beauty queens and burnt brides, and a population explosion juxtaposed with high child and maternal mortality. The billionth citizen of this ancient land entered a country with 40 political parties and 24 official languages, each spoken by at least a million people. A cultural preference for male children (who are thought to bring prosperity to a household) has resulted in a significant gender disparity with 927 females to every 1,000 males. The 2 relatively prosperous northern states of Haryana and Punjab have the largest gender disparities. Only Kerala—the socialist -run state—has a gender balance of 1 to 1. Feticide (the killing of a fetus), infanticide (the killing of an infant) or, later in life, forced suicide are still the lot of some Indian girls and young women. Though India was