Thursday, 29 October 2015

Religion Data of Census 2011: III


Tentative restoration of the balance, the case of Bihar



As we have said earlier there are two major stories emerging from the religion data of Census 2011. The first is the usual story of Muslims considerably improving their share in the population of India, and both Muslims and Christians recording extraordinary growth in specific regions of the country, mostly where they already have significantly high presence. But there is also a second story in the religion data of Census 2011 and it is about an unusual, though yet nascent, recovery of the share of Hindus in parts of India.

The main religious demographic issue in the country still remains the excessively high growth of Muslims and Christians in various regions. If one were to point out the two most significant aspects of the religion data of the latest Census, besides the aggregate increase in the share of Muslims, these shall have to be the unexpected and extraordinary rise of the Muslim share in Assam and the long anticipated, yet unstoppable, expansion of Christianity into Arunachal Pradesh. But, before looking at these issues of obvious national concern, we look at the newer story of the Hindu recovery; and we begin with Bihar, a State that has a fairly high Muslim population, shares borders with Nepal and Bangladesh and has seen a robust rise in the Muslim share for several decades. During 2001-11, Hindus have recorded a higher rate of growth than the Muslims in 15 of the 38 districts and 200 of the 534 sub-districts of the State. This post narrates the story of this tentative restoration of the demographic balance among different communities in Bihar.


Slowing down of the rise in Muslim Share
Share of Muslims in Bihar, 1951-2001
Census Year
Percentage Share
Decadal Increase in Share
1951
12.34
1961
13.48
1.14
1971
14.53
1.05
1981
15.09
0.56
1991
15.70
0.61
2001
16.53
0.83
2011
16.87
0.34
Increase in percentage points.
Muslims have a considerable share of 16.87 percent in the population of Bihar in 2011; but it has increased only by 0.33 percentage points over their share in 2001. During 1991-2001, they registered a much more substantial rise of 0.83 percentage points. The increase was somewhat less during 1981-91 and 1971-81; but in the two decades before that the Muslim share in the State had risen sharply by more than 1 percentage points every decade. The 2011 data thus indicates a sharp slowing down of the process of rise in the Muslim share, which has been going on since 1951 and in the course of which the Muslims have added 4.53 percentage points to their proportion in the population. The process has of course not been reversed, but the slowing down is certainly more significant than what was seen earlier for a couple of decades from 1971 to 1991.

Narrowing of the Growth Gap between Muslims and IR
Narrowing of the Gap in Growth of IR and Muslims
IR
Growth R
(percent)
Muslim
GR
(percent)
GR Gap
(Percentage
points)
Normalized
GR Gap
(percent)
1951-61
18.25
30.86
12.61
69.10
1961-71
19.35
30.34
10.99
56.80
1971-81
23.38
28.92
5.54
23.70
1981-91
22.53
28.33
5.80
25.74
1991-01
27.32
35.49
8.17
29.90
2001-11
24.83
27.95
3.12
12.57
To comprehend the extent of this phenomenon, it is instructive to look at the growth rates recorded by Muslims and Indian Religionists (IR, comprising the total population minus Muslims and Christians) in the six decades since Independence. As seen in the Table here, the Normalized Gap between the growth rate (GR) of Muslims and IR (Muslim GR minus GR of IR divided by GR of IR) was very high in 1951-61 and 1961-71. It declined to around 24 and 26 percent in the next two decades, and rose again to about 30 percent in 1991-2001. In the current decade, the Gap in GR between Muslims and Indian Religionists has narrowed to below 13 percent. The decadal Muslim growth has declined sharply from the all time high of 35.5 percent of the previous decade (1991-2001) to about 28 percent in this decade, while the IR rate has declined more moderately from 27.3 to 24.8 percent.

This narrowing of the wide gap between the growth rate of Muslims and Indian Religionists can also be seen in the graph here. In this graph, it is clear that though there was some bridging of the gap during 1971-1991, yet it widened again and substantial coming together of the growth rates of the two communities has happened only in this decade. The difference between the average growth rate of Muslims and IRs in the State is now so small that it is natural to expect the Muslim growth to have been slower than others in at least some of the districts. We see below that in as many as 15 of the 38 districts of the State, Muslim share in the population has actually declined, though marginally in most cases, between 2001 and 2011. In all these districts, the Hindus have recorded a higher rate of growth than the Muslims.

Districts with higher Hindu Growth

We show these 15 districts where Hindus have registered higher growth than the Muslims in Map A. The Map also shows the remaining 23 districts where the Muslim growth has been higher than Hindus and gives the normalised gap between the Muslim and the Hindu rate of growth for all districts. In Map B, we give the percent share of Muslims in the districts.



Looking at Map A and Map B together, we find that in general the districts where Muslim growth has been lower are also the districts where the share of Muslims in the population is relatively low. On the other hand, the districts where the Muslim share is high are also the districts where Muslim growth has been considerably higher than that of the Hindus. Thus, where Hindus dominate, there the Hindus have generally improved their share and where Muslims have a high presence, there has been significant accretion to their share. The latter has been happening for several decades, but the former has happened at any significant level only in this decade.

Of the 15 districts where the Hindus have shown a higher rate of growth than the Muslims, 12 are in the contiguous Saran-Bhojpur-Patna-Gaya-Munger region forming almost the entire western half of the State. These 12 comprise: Patna and Nalanda carved out from undivided Patna district; Gaya, Nawada, Jehanabad, Arwal and Aurangabad carved out of undivided Gaya; Sheikhpura and Lakhisarai components of undivided Munger district; Bhojpur component of undivided Shahbad district; and, Saran and Gopalganj components of undivided Saran district.

As seen in the Map, the growth advantage in favour of Muslims in the remaining Kaimur and Buxar components of undivided Shahbad and Siwan component of undivided Saran is only marginal. In this whole contiguous western region, it is only in Rohtas component of Shahbad and Jamui of Munger that Muslims growth rate is above the Hindus by more than 5 percent. Munger, Begusarai and Khagaria of undivided Munger are outside and towards the east of this region of higher Hindu growth.

Growth in the share of Muslims has been relatively slow in the Patna-Gaya region in the past also; but their share has never declined in any of the component districts of this region, except in Nalanda, where the proportion of Muslims had declined from 8.52 percent in 1991 to 7.46 percent in 2001 and has now declined further to 6.88 percent. But in undivided Saran, Bhojpur and Munger region, the share of Muslims had been rising fairly robustly.

The remaining 3 districts, where Hindus have grown at a rate faster than the Muslims are Sheohar component of undivided Muzaffarpur; Darbhanga component of undivided Darbhanga and Saharasa of undivided Bhagalpur-Saharasa region. In this whole region, Muslim growth in the past has been much higher than the Hindus. Incidentally, the difference between the Muslim and Hindu growth during 2001-2011 is of just about 2 percent in favour of Muslims in Vaishali component of Muzaffarur. Increase in the share of Muslims in this component was not very high in 1991-2001 also.

Among these fifteen, the phenomenon of higher growth of Hindus as compared to the Muslims has been the most marked in Jehanabad, Nalanda and Sheikhpura; in Sheikhpura, the share of Hindus has increased by 1 percentage point. It must be remarked that the Hindu share has not necessarily increased in all the 15 districts that have recorded a higher growth than that of Muslims; in some of these, the Hindu share has slightly declined, but the decline is less than that suffered by the Muslims; in these cases, there has been often a large increase in the share of the census category of RNS.

From the above analysis, and the Maps, it is clear that in a very large part of Bihar, comprising nearly the entire western half of the State and also certain districts in the eastern half, the trend of Muslim growth being almost always higher than that of Hindus has been largely reversed. This phenomenon of Hindu growth catching up and surpassing Muslims is widespread, and cannot to be taken to be a mere statistical coincidence.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Religion Data of Census 2011: II



The imbalance worsens


In this second post on the religion data of Census 2011, we give the main national aggregate numbers about the changes that have taken place in the share of different communities during 2001-11, and try to put these in the context of the changes since 1951. Longer term data on such changes is available in our book, The Religious Demography of India, mentioned in the previous post. The headline figure of the Muslim share increasing by 0.8 percentage points and a corresponding decline in the share of Indian Religionists is significant in itself and indicates an unabated continuation of the long term trends. But the real story of Census 2011 is to be found in the dis-aggregated data at the State and district levels, where we see extraordinary high increase in the share of Muslims and Christians in several pockets of the country on the one hand and, on the other, an emerging but widespread demographic resurgence of Hindus manifesting in their higher growth as compared to Muslims or Christians in many districts. We shall begin looking into these newer trends in the next post. The data below provides the background for that story.


At the national aggregate level the most significant piece of information that emerges from the religion data of census of 2011 is the increase in the share of Muslims in the population of India from 13.43 percent in 2001 to 14.23 percent now. They have thus added 0.8 percentage points to their share in the population.
Rising Share of Muslims
Census Year
Percentage Share
Decadal Increase in Share
1951
10.45
1961
10.69
0.24
1971
11.20
0.51
1981
11.75
0.55
1991
12.61
0.86
2001
13.43
0.82
2011
14.23
0.80
Increase in percentage points.

This increase is part of a continuing process
This level of increase in the share of Muslims is not insignificant. This is the third decade in a row when their share has increased by or above 0.8 percentage points. The share of Muslims has been rising every decade since Independence and Partition. The quantum of rise, however, became rather large after 1981. That process of considerable increase in the share of Muslims from decade to decade has continued unabated during 2001-2011.


Gap in the Growth of Muslims and Others
Widening Normalized Gap in the Growth of
Muslims and Indian Religionists
Census Decade
Growth of Indian R (percent)
Growth of Muslims (percent)
Normalized
Growth Gap
(percent)
1951-61
21.16
24.43
15.45
1961-71
23.84
30.84
29.36
1971-81
24.09
30.74
27.60
1981-91
22.79
33.89
48.70
1991-01
20.34
29.50
45.03
2001-11
16.67
24.65
47.82
Difference as a proportion of Growth of Indian Religionists, including Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and ORPs.
Another way to appreciate the increase in the share of Muslims is to look at the normalized gap in the decadal growth rates of Muslims and others, especially the Indian Religionists (IRs), among whom we include the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and those in the Census category of Other Religions and Persuasions (ORPs). The gap between the growth rates of Muslims and IRs, normalized to the absolute growth of IRs, widened to as much as 49 percent during 1981-91; it became marginally narrower in 1991-2001 and has widened again in the last decade. The commentators, who have been pointing out the decline of the Muslim growth rate from 29.69 to 24.65 percent as an indication of the halting of the religious imbalance, are wrong; because, the normalized gap between the growth rates of Muslims and IRs has only widened.

The Muslims in the country have grown by nearly 50 percent more than the Indian Religionists for the third decade in a row. Such wide difference in the growth rates of one community compared to others is not sustainable in any society.

India likely to acquire the largest Muslim population in the World
Because of this sustained growth, Muslim population in India has grown to 17.22 crore in 2011 compared to 3.77 crores in 1951, implying a multiplication factor of 4.6. The population of Indian Religionists in the same period has multiplied only 3.2 times. India now hosts the second largest Muslim population of the world, behind Indonesia which has 19.1 crore Muslims in its population of 24 crore, but ahead of Pakistan, which has 16.7 crore Muslims in its total population of 17.4 crores in 2010. (These figures are from T. M. Johnson and B. J. Grim, The World’s Religions in Figures, Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester 2013). Given the trends, most demographers agree that within two or three decades India shall be home to the largest Muslim population in the world. 

Christian Share has remained nearly unchanged

Share and Decadal Growth of Christians
Census Year
Share (percent)
Growth (percent)
1951
2.33
-
1961
2.44
27.29
1971
2.60
32.60
1981
2.44
17.38
1991
2.32
17.70
2001
2.35
23.13
2011
2.30
15.53
The share of Christians in the population of India has declined slightly, from 2.34 percent in 2001 to 2.30 percent in 2011. The Christians during the decade have grown by 15.53 percent compared to the rate of 17.72 percent for the whole population, 16.76 percent for the Hindus and 24.65 percent for the Muslims. The growth of Christians was considerably higher than the Indian average in the first two decades after Independence; their share in the population had gone up from 2.33 percent in 1951 to 2.60 percent in 1971. Since then it has been slowly declining.

This low aggregate growth of Christians during 2001-11 is partly because of their low growth rates in Kerala, Nagaland, Mizoram and Goa, four of the important Christian majority States. Their rates of growth have also been low or negative in some of the larger States like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, and in all of the Union Territories, except Puducherry. However, they have registered considerably high growth in many States; the rise in their share has been particularly remarkable in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura in the Northeast, in Sikkim, in Darjeeling of West Bengal, in parts of Odisha and in Kanniyakumari district of Tamilnadu. We shall be looking into this growth and decline of Christians in subsequent posts.

Decline in the share of
Indian Religionists
Census Year
Percent Share of
IR’s
Decadal Increase in Share
1951
87.22
1961
86.87
-0.35
1971
86.20
-0.67
1981
85.81
-0.39
1991
85.07
-0.74
2001
84.21
-0.86
2011
83.48
-0.73
Decline in the Share of Indian Religionists
As a consequence of this continuing rise in the share of Muslims, the share of Indian religionists has been declining. In 2011, their share has come down to 83.48 percent from 84.21 percent in 2001; the share of Indian Religionists in 1951 was 87.22 percent. The process of decline in the share of Indian Religionists, like the increase in the share of Muslims, has continued since Independence and Partition and has become considerably faster after 1981. Between 1951 and 2011, the share of Indian Religionists in the population of India has contracted by nearly 4 percentage points, and the Muslim share has expanded by about that amount. Census 2011 shows that this spurt in the Muslim growth and consequent decline of others has not subsided yet. Incidentally, in this and earlier Tables we have made appropriate corrections to take into account the fact that the Census could not be conducted in Assam 1981 and in J&K in 1951 and 1991.

Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, ORPs and RNS, 2001-2011

Population in thousands
Share in Percent
Decadal

2001
2011
2001
2011
Growth %
Total
10,28,610
12,10,855
80.46
79.80
17.72
Indian R
8,66,342
10,10,790
84.21
83.48
16.67
Hindus
8,27,579
9,66,257
80.46
79.80
16.76
Sikhs
19,216
20,833
1.87
1.72
8.42
Jains
4,225
4,452
0.41
0.37
5.37
Buddhists
7,955
8,443
0.77
0.70
6.13
ORPs
6,639
7,938
0.65
0.66
19.56
RNS
728
2,867
0.07
0.24
293.86
Decline in Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others
Another significant figure that emerges from Census 2011 is that the share of Hindus in the population of India has now declined to below 80 percent; Hindus formed 80.46 percent of the population in 2001, they are 79.80 percent in 2011. During the decade, the Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists have grown even slower than the Hindus. Decadal growth of these three has been 8.42, 5.37 and 6.13 percent, respectively, as compared to 16.76 percent of the Hindus. The share of Sikhs has declined from 1.87 to 1.72 percent, of Buddhists from 0.77 to 0.70 and of Jains from 0.41 to 0.37 percent. This decline in the share of Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists is a significant phenomenon, which would have important sociological and political consequences. It needs to be analysed in detail; we shall take up the issue in some of the subsequent posts.


The share of those counted in the census category of
Other Religions and Persuasions (ORPs), who belong mainly to the various tribal religions of India, has marginally increased from 0.65 to 0.66 percent. They have recorded decadal growth of 19.45 percent compared to 17.72 percent of the total population and 16.76 percent of the Hindus. This is contrary to the trend of the previous decade of 1991-2001, when the proportion of ORPs in the population had increased sharply from 0.39 to 0.65 percent. We shall in due course look at the spread and growth of ORPs across different States of India.

The share of persons who have not stated their religion has suddenly increased in this decade from 0.07 to 0.24 percent; and, their numbers have nearly quadrupled from 7.3 lakh in 2001 to 28.7 lakh in 2011. This spurt in the number of persons in the category of “Religion not Stated (RNS)” is a new phenomenon, which we shall study in detail in later posts. But, from the distribution of RNS across the States, it seems difficult to interpret this spurt as a consequence of the spread of atheism among the people, as it has been interpreted by some media analysts.