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Census data shows Hindu population drop by 0.7%

The new census data based on religion shows Hindu population dropped between 2001 and 2011.

Mail Today bureau | August 26, 2015 | Updated 08:32 IST
Census data reveals Hindu population drop by 0.7%
The new census data based on religion shows Hindu population dropped between 2001 and 2011. (Picture source: Mail Today)

With the population of India in 2011 at a whopping 1.2 billion, census data released by the NDA government on Tuesday showed changing demographics patterns based on religion.

The data released are by gender and residents up to sub districts and towns. While the census figures on religion were released more than four years after the data was compiled, the caste data is yet to be made public. There is political pressure from parties - including the RJD, JD(U), SP and DMK - to release the caste census figures without further delay. The data on socio-economic status of the population was released on July 3.

The timing of releasing the data, which was put together in 2011, could be crucial ahead of the Bihar Assembly elections in a few months and West Bengal in 2016 as it could have a bearing on the political discourse along religious lines. The Muslim population in India has grown faster than other religions and marginally increased overall. While the proportion of all religions to the total population has declined, in case of Muslims it has marginally increased by 0.8 per cent. The community's growth was recorded at over 24 per cent, much more than the national growth rate of 17.7 per cent.

With the increase, the number of Muslims in India touched 172 million in 2011, up from 138 million in 2001. In the same period, Hindu population showed a decline by 0.7 per cent at 966.3 million. Experts claim that efficacy of family planning methods among Muslims is lesser as compared to Hindus and the government needs to propagate the idea by focusing on areas where the population growth rate is higher. "Students from the community medicine department of every medical college do social work in rural areas. We have seen during family planning workshops and field work, those family methods are not (prevalent) among the Muslim community as compared to Hindus," said Dr Jugal Kishore, professor of community medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College.

New task Health and family welfare minister JP Nadda had recently proposed taking up the task of population stabilisation in the country by adopting a 'mission mode' approach, where focused and targeted work is being taken up in states where the numbers are high. According to Poonam Muttreja, executive director with the Population Foundation of India, the Muslim population is increasing only in those parts where income and education levels are low.

"According to our studies, the Muslim population has seen a dip in states like Kerala, where Muslims are well off. In contrast, the community's population in states like UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat is growing at a high rate. We can infer that population explosion is directly linked to education and income," she said. As per the religious Census data, released by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India's total population in 2011 was 1.2 billion. The breakup is: Hindus 966.3 million (79.8 per cent); Muslims 172 million (14.2 per cent); Christians 27.8 million (2.3 per cent); Sikhs 20.8 million (1.7 per cent); Buddhists 8.4 million (0.7 per cent); Jains 4.5 million (0.4 per cent); other religions and persuasions (ORP) 7.9 million (0.7 per cent) and religion not stated 2.9 million (0.2 per cent).

For the first time, the Hindu population in the country is below 80 per cent. The proportion of Muslim population to total population has increased by 0.8 percentage points (PP) in 2011, the Census data stated. The proportion of Hindu population to total population in 2011 has declined by 0.7 PP; the proportion of Sikh population has declined by 0.2 PP and Buddhist population has declined by 0.1 PP during the decade. No visible change There has been no significant change in the proportion of Christians and Jains.

As per the 2001 Census, India's total population was 1.02 billion, of which Hindus comprised 819 million (80.45 per cent) and Muslims 138 million (13.4 per cent). The population growth rate between 2001 and 2011 was 17.7 per cent. The Muslim community was the only one to record a growth rate higher than the nation's population rate. The growth rate of population of different religious communities in the same period was: Hindus 16.8 per cent; Muslims 24.6 per cent; Christians 15.5 per cent; Sikhs 8.4 per cent; Buddhists 6.1 per cent and Jains 5.4 per cent. The Census included six major religious communities, viz; Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain, besides 'other religions and persuasions' and 'religion not stated'.

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