From 2001 to 2011, the Hindu population increased by 138 million which is the equivalent of the entire Muslim population of 2001

By Dr Abu Saleh Sharief

The Government of India released the Census 2011 data on Population by Religious Communities on Aug 25th and a section of the news media seized the opportunity to sensationalize and create a controversy. These media reports seek to portray that the Hindu population in India is going down while the Muslim population is going up, similar to a stock market analogy. The media controversy and the timing of the data released by the Indian Government close to the elections in two of the populous states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is quite questionable.

However, a quick look at the data will show that the population of both the Hindu and the Muslim community has increased in the past decade, while the total population of India increased by 17.7% from 2001 to 2011. From 2001 to 2011, the Hindu population increased by 138 million which is the equivalent of the entire Muslim population of 2001! However, the positive sign for India is that the rate of growth for both communities is falling compared to previous decades. In fact the rate of decline of population growth in the past decade for the Muslim community is higher than for the Hindu community.

A more rigorous analysis will be performed by our research staff and the results will be shared in a later release. However, we are presenting few facts from the 2011 religion census data here.

1. The chart below shows the population growth according to census data for Hindus and Muslims during 2001 to 2011. 


All India Hindu Muslim
Population in 2001 1.02 billion   827 million 138 million
Population in 2011 1.21 billion   966 million 172 million
Population Growth  181 million   138 million    34 million
Share of population – 2001 100% 80.46% 13.43%
Share of population – 2011 100% 79.80% 14.23%
Growth Rate (2001-2011) 17.7% 16.80% 24.30%


2. The population share of major religions in India according to data from 2011 census.

Source: Census 2011 data on Population by Religious Communities, Govt. of India


3. The population growth rates of both Muslims and Hindus are declining and beginning to converge. (Source: The Wire)


The Positive Indicators from the 2011 census

A preliminary analysis of the newly released religion census reveals that there are several good indicators for India. A more in-depth analysis is forthcoming by USIPI’s research staff.


Few Positive Indicators from Census 2011 Religion Data 

1. India’s population is declining faster than previously expected

2. Rate of decline over the decade for Muslim population (4.9%) is marginally higher than for Hindu population (3.5%) 

3. Population decline was faster in India’s populous states Uttar Pradesh and Bihar compared to many other states.


4. Sex Ratio has improved for all of India in the past decade. 


5. The sex ratio for Hindu community has improved marginally and it has significantly improved for the Muslim community.



INDIA Sex Ratio Hindu Sex Ratio Muslim Sex Ratio
INDIA Total 943  939  951 
INDIA Rural 949  947  958 
INDIA Urban 929  921  942 


–Courtesy “Muslim Mirror”