Home Population Population growth rates fell more for minorities (Pew report)

Population growth rates fell more for minorities (Pew report)


In 2020, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat said a two-child policy would be one of the organization’s main goals. Many have criticized the proposal as an attempt to limit the growth of India’s Muslim population.

However, a report on the country’s religious makeup, following a Pew Research Center survey using census and National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data, indicates that population growth rates have declined for all major religious groups in India, but the downturn has been most pronounced among religious minorities, who have overtaken Hindus in previous decades.

The survey also indicates that India’s religious makeup has remained broadly unchanged, with the exception of the northeast. Between 2001 and 2011, in the northeast, the number of Christians increased as a percentage of the state’s population. Their share increased in Arunachal Pradesh by 12 percentage points (to 30 percent), Manipur by 7 points (to 41 percent), Meghalaya by 4 points (75 percent) and Sikkim by 3 points (10 percent). hundred) . The share of Christians in Nagaland declined slightly, although they remained in the overwhelming majority. Hindus also experienced their biggest percentage point changes in the sparsely populated northeast, decreasing by 3 points or more in Arunachal Pradesh (down 6 percentage points to 29 percent), Manipur (-5 points to 41 percent), Assam (-3 points to 61 percent) and Sikkim (-3 points to 58 percent). Muslims also experienced their biggest change in the Northeast, in Assam (+3 points to 34%).

The report indicates that the religious composition of the population can change for three reasons: fertility rates, migration and conversion. While conversion was a negligible reason, fertility and migration were mainly responsible for the change in trend.

The report states that India’s Muslim population has grown a bit faster due to differences in fertility. But due, in part, to declining and converging fertility patterns, there have been only modest changes in the overall religious composition of the population since 1951, when independent India conducted its first census. . Even here, the gap has narrowed. Between 1951 and 1961, the Muslim population grew by 32.7%, 11 percentage points higher than India’s overall rate of 21.6%. But from 2001 to 2011, the difference in growth between Muslims (24.7 percent) and all Indians (17.7 percent) was 7 percentage points.

India’s Christian population has grown at the slowest rate of the three largest groups over the last decade of the census – gaining 15.7 percent between 2001 and 2011, a much lower rate of growth than recorded during decade after partition (29.0 percent).

The report states that migration can lead to a decrease or expansion of religious groups. But, he finds that since the 1950s, migration has had only a modest impact on India’s religious makeup. Over 99% of the people living in India were also born here. Migrants leaving India are three times more numerous than immigrants, and religious minorities are more likely than Hindus to leave.

The report finds that change of religion or conversion – when an individual leaves one religion for another or ceases to join a religion – also appears to have had a relatively small impact on the overall makeup of India, 98 % of Indian adults still identifying with the religion in which they were raised. Here he adds a caveat: Dalits (Hindus, Muslims and Christians), who might have changed their religion or become Buddhists, are underestimated because their recorded response in the polls is to register as Hindus because it gives them access to many benefits of affirmative action such as reservation.

The report cites the recently passed Citizenship (Amendment) Act and points out that people who come to India either as refugees or as undocumented immigrants are often from neighboring countries, and in recent years there has been speculation circulated that up to tens of millions of Muslims have left Bangladesh and other neighboring countries to live illegally in India. “The sources and methodologies behind such high estimates are unclear, and reliable estimates of undocumented people are hard to come by. But if tens of millions of Muslims from neighboring countries had indeed migrated to India, demographers would expect to see evidence of such massive emigration in data from their home countries, and this magnitude of the emigration is not apparent, ”the report says.

In terms of projecting future trends based on census data, fertility and migration trends, the report states that in 2020 about 15 percent of Indians are Muslims (up from 14.2 percent in the census of 2011), 79 percent are Hindus (compared to 79.8% in 2011) and 2% are Christians (according to 2011).

In 2050, Hindus are expected to represent around 77% of Indians, Muslims 18% and Christians another 2%. Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains all have fertility rates well below the national average and are therefore expected to decline as a proportion of the population.


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