India has the largest number of illiterates in the world and the country ranks a poor 126th in the Human Development Index prepared by the UNDP, government told the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

As per the Human Development Report 2006, India ranks 126th out of 177 countries covered in the report, Minister of State of Human Resources Development, D Purendeswari, told the upper house.

Adult literacy is only one of the several variables on the basis of which the Index is calculated, she said in a written reply.

In the year 2001, the total number of illiterates came down to 304.11 million from 328.88 million in 1991.

"It would not be correct to say that the illiteracy rate has not been reduced despite major schemes such as the National Literacy Mission and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan," the minister said.

This decline was largely due to the initiatives under the Elementary Education and Adult Education, she said.

In the 11th plan, special focus would be given to SCs, STs, minorities and rural women under the National Literacy Mission. The thrust will also be on low literacy states, tribal areas, other disadvantaged groups and adolescents, she said.
src: TimesofIndia