India has begun counting its more than one billion population, in what is being called the world's largest census.
President Pratibha Patil marked the start of the 11-month exercise on Thursday, with census workers taking down her information at the presidential palace in New Delhi. In West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya was the first person to fill up the two forms with 50 questions.
Some 2.5 million census-takers will travel throughout India, visiting more than 600,000 villages in an effort to gather information about the population. For the first time, workers will collect fingerprints and a photograph of residents to be used in a new National Population Register.
Census-takers will also gather personal information such as marital status, and record the number of bank account holders and cell phone users.
The census is conducted once every ten years in India.
Gautam Gupta, VOA correspondent from Kolkata, has more on this.