"The census surveys the entire population of the country and, therefore, provides a more accurate account of the overall sex ratio," the director of the Population Fund of India, Poonam Muttreja, told the BBC.
But the numbers have made headlines in India, with some claiming that they point to significant societal shifts in a country where a preference for sons has historically led to a very skewed sex ratio in favour of men. The health ministry said this was the first time ever that the female population had surpassed the male population in India. One official said this was due to the "measures taken by the government for women's empowerment". Media reports hailed it as a "massive achievement" and "a demographic shift". One journalist wrote that India had "now entered the league of developed nations".