Hindu population set to fall below 80% in Census 2011

Posted on May 18, 2011

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Hindus have among the lowest overall sex ratios and child sex ratios in the country as per Census 2001. Amit Dave/Reuters

Census 2011 is likely to throw up a psychologically important figure on India’s religious demographics. For the first time in over a century, the proportion of the Hindu population in the country will probably fall below the 80 percent mark — in keeping with the long-term trend of a significant divergence between Hindu and Muslim growth rates.

Hindus have among the lowest overall sex ratios and child sex ratios in the country as per Census 2001.Amit Dave/ReutersDemographers like Ashish Bose and SC Gulati have varying viewpoints on the subject. While Bose believes that “it is quite likely that the proportion will be below 80% in 2011”, Gulati says that “A secular trend cannot be predicted for religions based on past data”. The latter view is also backed by another Economic & Political Weekly (EPW) research paper “Hindu-Muslim Fertility Differentials”, which says: “It is true that a Hindu-Muslim differential in fertility persists in India’s demographic reality, but it is no more than one child. It is also not too large to swamp India’s Hindu majority in the foreseeable future. Nor is the gap likely to persist for a very long time as we find that the fertility level among Muslims declines with increasing level of education and standards of living. The faster increase in family planning among Muslims supports this conjecture”.

In a country where Hinduism is the majority religion, it is a unique trend that the proportion of Hindus has shown a secular decline since 1961, matched by a corresponding increase in the proportion of Muslims. While religion is a contentious issue to analyse at any point in time, it is equally imperative to analyse trends deeply enough to understand its socio-economic ramifications.

Firstpost is raising this issue not to pander to any scare-mongering among Hindus, but because it needs to be understood in the right context. As we await the Census 2011 results on religious demographics, we undertook an analysis of this trend and what it means for the future. Our detailed analysis indicates that while the population of Muslims is indeed growing faster than Hindus, this is only partly due to higher birth rates among them; Hindus, on the other had, also carry a responsibility for the trend in the form of lower longevity, as well as widespread prevalence of gender discrimination and higher mortality among children.

Source: firstpost.com, May 18th 2011

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