The literacy rate among the entire population of the country rose 4.5 percentage points to 69 per cent in 2014 against 64.5 per cent six years back, showed a survey released by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO). While the latest survey was conducted during January-June 2014, the previous one was carried out during July 2007 to June 2008.
A person who can read and write a simple message in any language with understanding is considered literate in NSSO surveys. Bihar was the most laggard state in this regard having only 49.4 per cent of the population as literate in 2007-08. It was the only state to have less than half the population as literate. It has made a tremendous progress, but still it lags other states. In 2014, nearly 60 per cent of the state's population was literate.
Only 38.6 per cent of females were literate in Bihar eight years back, which grew to 52 per cent by 2014. While 59.2 per cent of males were literate in 2007-08 in the state, the proportion improved to 67 per cent in the latest survey.
Rajasthan, which followed Bihar in terms of highest percentage of illiterate people, had 55.3 per cent of the state's population as literate, while Uttar Pradesh had 58.3 per cent, in 2007-08. The gap between the two states narrowed down six years later. By June 2014, as many as 62 per cent of the population was literate in Rajasthan, while 63 per cent was so in UP. The newly-carved state of Telangana, too, had 63 per cent of its population as literate. Even as the literacy rate was more or less the same in Rajasthan and UP, there was a gap so far as the female education is concerned. In UP, 54 per cent of females were literate, while in Rajasthan, only 50 per cent were so.
Mizoram topped the list in literacy in 2007-08, having just 12.7 per cent of the population as illiterate. Kerala was a close second with 86.5 per cent of its population being literate and Nagaland had the third slot with 83 per cent literate people.