You are here: Home » Current Affairs » News » National
Business Standard

India's population at 1.21 billion; Hindus 79.8%, Muslims 14.2%

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

The growth rate of the Muslim population has consistently declined or remained constant since 1971 till 2011, with the only exception being the 10-year period ended 1991. Experts believe the population growth will fall further with rising education levels among Muslims.

However, the proportion of Muslims to the total population of India rose over the decades, while that of Hindus declined, showed the Census data released on Tuesday.

India's total population stood at 1.21 billion in 2011. Of this, Hindus constituted less than 80 per cent for the first time in 2011. Their proportion to total population fell to 79.8 per cent in 2011, against 80.5 per cent in 2001 and 82.4 per cent in 1991.

On the other hand, the proportion of Muslims in the total population rose to 14.2 per cent in 2011 from 13.4 per cent in a decade before and 11.7 per cent in 1991.

The proportion of Christians in the country's population remained constant at 2.3 per cent in all these years.

In absolute terms, there were 966.3 million Hindus in 2011, while there were 172.2 million Muslims, 27.8 million Christians, 20.8 million Sikhs (1.7 per cent of the country's total population), 8.4 million Buddhist (0.7 per cent), and 4.5 million Jains (0.4 per cent).

The population of Muslims rose at the rate of 2.5 per cent a year between 2001 and 2011, which is a 0.4 percentage points lower than 2.9 per cent witnessed during 1991-2001. On the other hand, the population of Hindus grew 1.5 per cent a year during 2001-11, which is 0.3 percentage points lower than two per cent in the previous decade. While the population of Muslims grew faster than Hindus during 2001-2011, in the previous decade, the pace of growth declined faster than that in the former than the latter.

The rate of growth in the Muslims population declined 0.4 percentage points between 1991 and 2001 over that between 1981 and 1991. The rate of growth in Hindu population declined by 0.3 percentage points over this period.

In fact, the growth rate of Muslims population never rose except in 1981-91 period. It remained constant in the 1971-1981 period.

According to sociologists, the dip in the growth rate of Muslim population over the decades was the result of elementary education among them. "The impact of primary education on fertility decline is quite high in Muslims. The whole fear that Muslim populations will overtake Hindu population is nonsense. This is because fertility decline is taking place due to the impact of primary education," said Amitabh Kundu, senior fellow at Delhi Policy Group.

Why, then, was the rate of growth in Muslims at 2.5 per cent was still higher than Hindus at 1.7 per cent in 2011? "A large proportion of Muslim women are still not literate, which explains this trend. With inclusive growth, education level will go up and fertility level will drastically go down over the years," says Kundu.

The release of the Census data by the Democratic Alliance assumes significance as it was supposed to be out early last year, but was delayed. There were allegations that the previous United Progressive Alliance government did not release the data as elections were round the corner.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Wed, August 26 2015. 00:40 IST