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The Deep Divide in the Religious Census of HINDU - Sthan

Satrajit, Kolkata

The office of the Registrar General and the Census Commissioner of India, recently released the Census 2011 data on Population by Religious Communities contesting some intriguing and popular beliefs. The data released, contradicts one of the major popular belief that the Muslims are gradually on their way of becoming the country´s majority. This fact has been substantiated by several circumstances, mainly by the politicians who polarize the majority votes by playing Identity Politics for political gains.

On April 2015, the USA based Pew Research Centre released a report claiming that by 2050, India will have the largest Muslim population in the world. This report created havoc in India with the Hindu rightwing outfit Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) general secretary Surendra Jain claiming that in no time India will turn into a Pakistan. Taking absurdity to a whole new level, Sadhvi Deva Thakur of Hindu Mahasabha wanted Muslims and Christians to undergo sterilization.

What´s interesting is that this fact is partly true because of India´s sheer size and population density and not because Muslims are reproducing more. The 2011 census data cleared air that The Muslim community has registered a moderate 0.8 per cent growth to touch 17.22 crore in the 10 year period between 2001 and 2011, up from 13.8 crore, while Hindus population showed a decline by 0.7 per cent at 96.63 crore during the period. But during this decade the Hindues added 13.95 crore to the population of India even more than what was the entire population of Muslims in the country in 2001.

Most of the facts published in the Pew report thus were ignored for political gains and understanding that also said that by 2050 India will have the largest population of Hindus as well. They estimated a 311 million Muslims to a 1.3 billion Hindus!

The then Gujarat´s Chief Minister, Narendra Modi who is now the Prime Minister of the country had mocked the Muslim community in one of his speeches during the Gujarat Gaurav Yatra held shortly after the carnage in Gujarat, in 2002. He had said, "What should we do? Run relief camps for them? Do we want to open baby producing centers? Hum paanchhuma repachees(We are five and we will have 25 offsprings). "This ever - long hatred and fear emerged from prejudices towards the other religious sects, have always been used as a propaganda tool by the Hindu Radicals.

The Census 2011 data on Population by Religious Communities is thus able to shed light on the old misconception. Hindus are the majority. No matter from which way you look at it – Hindus have a whopping majority! With 79.8% (96.63 crore) of the country´s total population, the Hindus rule their beloved "Hindusthan", proving the worth its name. The Muslims comes a far second with 14.2% (17.22 crore), the Christians third with 2.3% (2.78 crore), Sikhs fourth with 1.7% (2.08 crore), Buddhists fifth with 0.7% (0.84 crore) and Jains with 0.4% (0.45 crore).

                                  Religion                         Percentage of the Population (Numbers)
Hindus 79.8% (96.63 crore)
Muslims 14.2% (17.22 crore)
Christians 2.3% (2.78 crore)
Sikhs 1.7% (2.08 crore)
Buddhists 0.7% (0.84 crore)
Jains 0.4% (0.45 crore)
Other Religions & Persuasions (ORP) 0.7 % (0.79 crore)
Religion Not Stated 0.2% (0.29 crore)

The data released amidst rumors that Hindus were becoming minority in India, has not only cleared the confusion, but also allowed us to understand that in the past decade (2001-2011) the Muslims in India saw a gradual decrease in their growth. The decadal Muslim rate of growth is the lowest it has ever been in India´s history. India´s Muslim population is growing slower than it had in the previous decades, and its growth rate has slowed more sharply than that of the Hindu population.

                                  Census Year                                      Growth Rate of Muslims
1961 32.49%
1971 30.92%
1981 30.78%
1991 32.88%
2001 29.52%
2011 24.60%

India has always been a Hindu majority country. However, what´s frightening is the disparity between the majority religious sect and the minorities combined (79.8% : 19.3%). For a country who claims to be secular, this gap is a worthy notable. The Census 2011 data is not the only one that shows the distinction between the majority and minority religious communities. It has always been the same.

         Year                               Hindus (in millions)                               Muslims (in millions)
1961 366.5 46.9
1971 453.3 61.4
1981 562.4 80.3
1991 690.1 106.7
2001 827.6 138.2
2011 966.3 172.2

As stated above, the politicians practicing Identity Politics in India have been able to successfully create a mass hysteria among the "majority" Hindu population, that the Muslims are and will take over India. These Hindu Radicals and fundamentalists have in many an occasion claimed that the Muslims are growing in an abnormal rate. Therefore, the release of the full and variegated Census data is a positive step towards challenging stereotypes. Unfortunately, it is likely to be twisted and turned in the days to come by political parties, who are anxious to invoke demographic paranoia as a part of a political agenda.

Sources: www.censusindia.gov.in, The Hindu, The Indian Express, The Telegraph, www.pewresearch.org.

Posted on August 31, 2015

--- The Indian Minority