Changing ‘religious demographics’ are a real threat, study finds. Explain

A study that broke down the 2011 census data shows that the number of Indian Muslims has grown at a faster rate than that of other Indian Religious (RIs) which includes Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists.
Dr. JK Bajaj of the Center for Policy Studies (CPS) conducted the research which shed light on “the changing religious demographics of India”. Along with a steady growth of Muslims relative to IRs, the study results show that there has been a steep decline in the population of Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists.
In a report by Arun Anand for Firstpost, Dr Bajaj was quoted as saying that this is an “important phenomenon, which would have significant sociological and political consequences”.
Some commentators pointed out earlier that the growth rate of Indian Muslims had actually declined over the past two decades (i.e. between 1991-2001 and 2001-2011) and was more dramatic than the decline in the rate growth of Hindus.

Dr. Bajaj, however, points out the error in comparing these data. According to his findings, the normalized gap between the growth rates of Muslims and IRs has only widened.

His study points out that looking only at the decline in growth rate misses the big picture. To understand this, he takes a closer look at what the data reveals over the years.

Examining the share of the Muslim population in the census taken after independence to the most recent count shows that between 1951 and 1961 the decadal increase in Muslim population growth was 0.24% . It jumped almost four times to 0.80% during the decade 2001-2011.

Examining the growth of the Muslim population in absolute numbers also shows a staggering increase. In 1951, the Muslim population in India was 3.47 crores while it increased to 17.11 crores in 2011. According to Dr. Bajaj, this implies a multiplication factor of 4.6. During the same period, the population of Indian clerics grew only 3.2 times.

So essentially, the rate of increase of the Muslim population has been faster than that of the IRs. Even though there was a fall in the growth rate of all religions in India during the decade 2001-2011, the religious imbalance has widened.

In Arun Anand’s report quoting Dr. Bajaj, it is pointed out that the gap between Muslim and IR growth rates, normalized to absolute IR growth, widened to 49% in 1981 -91. Over the next 10 years, the gap narrowed somewhat and then widened again.

The analysis points out that it is wrong to conclude that there is no religious imbalance due to the decline in the growth rate of Muslims, it is “because the normalized gap between the growth rates of Muslims and IR has only expanded”.

It was previously pointed out by commentators that the decline in Hindu population growth was 3.1 percentage points, from 19.9 to 16.8%. Muslim population growth fell by 4.7 percentage points, from 29.3 to 24.6 percent. The news that made the headlines was that the increase in the Muslim population fell more than that of the Hindus in 20 years.

Dr Bajaj argues that although there has been a decline, it has not compensated for the substantial increase in the number of Muslims compared to that of IRs.

In other words, Muslims have grown faster (despite the slowdown in the decade 2001-2011) compared to the growth of IR which has consistently slowed. The sharp decline in Muslim population growth could perhaps also be a base effect.

Decline of Indian clerics

According to the study, the share of religious Indians is declining. In 2001 their overall share in the population was 84.21%, it went down to 83.48% in 2011. And that too has been a consistent trend, indicating that fewer IRs are being born now than before.

“The process of decline on the part of Indian clerics, like the increase on the part of Muslims, has continued since independence and partition and accelerated considerably after 1981,” notes the study cited by Anand. .

Moreover, Dr. Bajaj tells Anand, “Between 1951 and 2011, the share of religious Indians in the population of India contracted by almost 4 percentage points, and the share of Muslims increased by about this amount.”

Impact of demographic change

This is a trend that has yet to subside – a spike in Muslim growth accompanied by a suppression of IR growth continues. In a country that faces the risk of religious fractures, this change is likely to have greater consequences in the future.

Not only that, a declining fertility rate indicates more nurturing and action on the part of the mother. It is possible that in communities where the rate of growth is increasing, women are lagging behind in access to education, health and work opportunities and therefore the families they are raising are also paying for it. the weight. It’s like the saying goes: when you educate a man, you educate an individual, but when you educate a woman, you educate a family.

The study also sheds light on religious conversions in the border state of Arunachal Pradesh where Chinese territorial ambitions keep security forces on edge throughout the year in inhospitable terrain. Here, an evangelical tide swept through the population from 2001 to 2011, converting the majority of Scheduled Tribes to Christianity.

The study notes that between 2001 and 2011, the proportion of Christians in the state’s population increased from less than 19 to more than 30 percent. This comes at a time when the Center is making concerted efforts to bring India’s easternmost state into mainstream politics and the development map.