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, new Census data show.
The decadal Muslim rate of growth is the lowest it has ever been in India’s history, as it is for all religions.
The Muslim population still grows at a faster rate than the Hindu population, but the gap between the two growth rates is narrowing fast.
India in numbers
India now has 966.3 million Hindus, who make up 79.8 per cent of its population, and 172.2 million Muslims, who make up 14.23 per cent. Among the other minorities, Christians make up 2.3 per cent of the population and Sikhs 2.16 per cent.
The Registrar-General and Census Commissioner released the data on Population by Religious Communities of Census 2011 on Tuesday evening.
The distribution of data is of the total population by six major religious communities — Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain — besides “Other religions and persuasions” and “Religion not stated”.
The data are released by sex and residence up to the levels of sub-districts and towns.
As has been the case since Independence, the rate of increase of the Muslim population is higher than that of the Hindu population as a result of higher Muslim fertility, higher child mortality among Hindus and a greater life expectancy among Muslims, demographers say. However, Muslim fertility rates in India are falling faster than among Hindus, Pew Research’s Future of World Religions report showed recently, and the Muslim community is expected to reach replacement levels of fertility by 2050.
Muslim sex ratio improves further
The data on Population by Religious Communities of Census 2011 show that between 2001 and 2011, Hindu population grew by 16.76 per cent, while that of Muslims by 24.6 per cent. The population of both communities grew faster during the previous decade, at 19.92 per cent and 29.52 per cent, respectively. As a long-term trend, say demographers, the communities’ growth rates are converging.
“This is completely along expected lines, and has been an ongoing process,” P. Arokiasamy, demographer and Professor at the International Institute of Population Sciences, Mumbai, told The Hindu. “With rising education and changing family expectations, declining fertility is an expected demographic phenomenon. It begins among better educated groups with better access to health care — as in India’s southern States — and then other groups catch up and converge,” Dr. Arokiasamy explained. In Kerala, for instance, the Muslim fertility rate (while higher than among the Hindus) is extremely low, especially compared with all communities in the northern States, he said.
The numbers show that the sex ratio among Muslims, already better than among Hindus, has further improved.
The sex ratio among Muslims now stands at 951 females for every 1,000 males, substantially better than 936 in 2001, while among Hindus, it is 939 females for every 1,000 males, a slight improvement over the 2001 value of 931. Assam remains the State with the largest Muslim population as a proportion (34.22 per cent) and saw the largest increase in the Muslim proportion between 2001 and 2011, followed by Uttarakhand and Kerala.
|Religion||Numbers (Per cent of the population)|
|Hindu||96.63 crore (79.8 %)|
|Muslim||17.22 crore (14.2%)|
|Christian||2.78 crore (2.3%)|
|Sikh||2.08 crore (1.7%)|
|Buddhist||0.84 crore (0.7%)|
|Jain||0.45 crore (0.4%)|
|Other Religions & Persuasions (ORP)||0.79 crore (0.7%)|
|Religion Not Stated||0.29 crore (0.2%)|
The growth rate of population in the decade 2001-2011 was 17.7%. The growth rate of population of the different religious communities in the same period was:
The Census data on religion comes after a significant delay; the 2001 Census data on religion was released in 2004 and the 2011 round results were expected in 2014. However, the numbers remained unreleased, even as a draft of the key data was selectively leaked earlier. The data comes in the backdrop of much fear-mongering over Muslims and their population, and RSS thinkers were quick to term the new data as proof of the end of Hindus, even while the numbers belie their claim.