Census 2011: Muslim population growth slows more than Hindus

27 August 2015

Population growth in India slowed across the board among all religious communities over the decade, with a sharper decline among Muslims than among Hindus over the last three decades, as per Census 2011 data.

However, the proportion of Muslim population to total population has increased by 0.8 percentage points. There has been no significant change in the proportion of Christians and Jains.

The proportion of Hindu population to total population in 2011 has declined by 0.7 percentage points; the proportion of Sikh population has declined by 0.2 percentage points and the Buddhist population has declined by 0.1 percentage points during the decade 2001-2011.

The growth rate of population in the decade 2001-2011 was 17.7 per cent. The growth rate of population of the different religious communities in the same period was as Hindus: 16.8 per cent, Muslims: 24.6 per cent, Christians: 15.5 per cent, Sikhs: 8.4 per cent; Buddhist: 6.1 per cent and Jain: 5.4 per cent.

However, the share of Hindus in the population came down marginally from 80.5 per cent in 2001 to 79.8 per cent in 2011. In 2001, Muslims constituted 13.4 per cent of the country's population; this went up marginally to 14.2 per cent, the Census 2011 data on Population by Religious Communities, released by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, showed.

The data is released by sex and residence up to sub-districts and towns.

Total population in 2011 stood at 121.09 crore, which included: Hindu 96.63 crore (79.8 per cent), Muslim 17.22 crore (14.2 per cent), Christian 2.78 crore (2.3 per cent) Sikh 2.08 crore (1.7 per cent), Buddhist 0.84 crore (0.7 per cent), Jain 0.45 crore (0.4 per cent), Other Religions and Persuasions 0.79 crore (0.7 per cent) and Religion Not Stated 0.29 crore (0.2 per cent).

The fertility rate is falling faster in Muslims than in Hindus. Data from the last three National Family Health Surveys (NHFS) show that the gap between Muslim and Hindu fertility rates is narrowing - the difference came down from 1.1 in NFHS 1 (1992-93) to 0.4 in NFHS 3 (2005-06). But the difference in fertility rates of the two communities is bigger in some states and union territories, and needs separate analysis.

Sex ratio (women per 1,000 men) among Muslims as per Census 2011 was 951 - better than the 939 among Hindus. Also, sex ratio among Muslims improved significantly over the decade - from 936 in 2001 to 951 in 2011. The improvement was smaller among Hindus - from 931 in 2001 to 939 in 2011.

These demographic trends are along expected lines. With increased access to education and better economic opportunities, a decline in fertility follows naturally.

The Census data show that the rate of growth of population varies from state to state. In states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and (undivided) Andhra Pradesh, which provide better access to education and development opportunities, the decline in fertility has been substantial.

However, fertility among the followers of a particular religion varies substantially across states.For instance, fertility among Hindus and Muslims  is higher in UP than in Tamil Nadu.

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