India's north-eastern state of Tripura achieved the first position in literacy with 94.65 per cent, beating Kerala (93.91 per cent), Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar announced in Agartala on Sunday.
"Tripura jumped to first position among the states of the country in literacy from the 12th position in the 2001 census and the fourth position in the 2011 census," Mr Sarkar said at a function on the occasion of International Literacy Day.
Mr Sarkar said that after Tripura attained 87.75 per cent literacy in the 2011 census, a government survey was conducted by the eight district magistrates in August 2012 which found that only 131,634 people of the state's 37 lakh people, including those aged 50 and above were illiterate.
"Over 8,254 voluntary literacy workers (VLW) have worked tremendously with full dedication under 8,152 adult literacy centres to make the leftover (131,634 people) unlettered people literate," the chief minister said.
Over 85 master trainers have supervised the work of the VLWs, who have worked at the village and habitation levels. Anganwadi workers under the social welfare department have also assisted the VLWs in their endeavour.
"The final evaluation of the neo-literate people was conducted across the state August 10-25 under the supervision of the (Kolkata-based) Indian Statistical Institution (ISI)," the chief minister said, adding that the state's literacy had now risen to 94.65 per cent from the 87.75 per cent in the 2011 census.
The state government felt, Mr Sarkar said, that after the final report of the ISI, the state's literacy would cross 96 per cent.
According to the 2011 census, literacy level is 93.91 per cent in Kerala and 91.58 per cent in Mizoram, among the most literate states in the country. The national literacy rate, according to the 2011 census, is 74.04 per cent.
The Tripura success story is attributed to the involvement of local government bodies, including gram panchayats, NGOs and local clubs under the close supervision of the State Literacy Mission Authority (SLMA) headed by the chief minister.
Former census director Dilip Acherjee, who has also held the post of school education department secretary in the state, told IANS: "In Tripura, increase of female literacy is better than their male counterparts."
"The literacy rate of females during the period of 2001 and 2011 census rose from 64.91 to 83.15 per cent, with an increase of 18.24 per cent, while in the case of men the increase was just 11.18 per cent -- from 81 to 92.18 per cent," Mr Acherjee said. It was under Mr Acherjee's supervision that the 2011 census was conducted in Tripura.
While Mizoram and Tripura are among the toppers in literacy in India, another north-eastern state, Arunachal Pradesh (66.95 per cent), is placed second-lowest in literacy in the country, just above Bihar, which recorded the least literacy of 63.82 per cent.