AFTER the release of religion based data of census 2011 by the government a great bitter debate has started. According to the religion based data released on 25 August, 2015 the Muslims grew by 24.6 per cent, Hindus 16.8 per cent, Christians 15.4 per cent, Sikhs 8.4 per cent, Buddhist 6.1 per cent and Jains 5.4 per cent during the decade from 2001 to 2011.
During this time the average increase in population of the country remained 17.7 per cent which is 3.8 per cent less than the last decade. During this decade the percentage growth in population figures of various religions varied differently, and the increase in population of Muslims was the highest and in this way their population grew by 0.8 per cent of the total population of the country while population share of 0.7 per cent of Hindus, 0.2 per cent of Sikhs and 0.1per cent of Buddhists has declined. However, the percentage population share of Christians and Jains remained at 2001 level. Out of this religion based data only one fact has emerged on the central stage that the population of Muslims has increased by 0.8 per cent of the total population of the country and in this way the relative share of Muslim population has increased by 14.2 per cent during 2011 which was 13.4 per cent during 2001 and population of Hindus declined to 79.8 per cent from 80.5 per cent. Why print and electronic media has made this fact a special issue without proper analysis of figures is beyond understanding?
The main question that arises is the population of Hindus has really declined or Muslim population has grown or it is a gimmick of figures or an unnecessary debate for a particular reason? At the very outset if we talk of total population of Hindus and Muslims, the total population of Hindus as per 2011 census is 96.63 crore and Muslims stands at 17.22 crore. In this way even if Muslim population increases by 0.8per cent and Hindu population decreases by 0.7 per cent, Hindu population will remain 79.41crore more than the Muslim population. Besides, if we calculate percentage data, Muslim population (14.2 per cent), is less than Hindu population (79.8 per cent) by 65.6 per cent.
It is also pertinent to explain here that the percentage increase of Muslim population is continuously declining from the year 1961 to 2011. During 1961 the percentage increase of Muslim population was 32.49 per cent which has now declined to 24.6 per cent. In this way during the last five decades the percentage increase of Muslim population has decreased by 7.89 per cent while the percentage increase in Hindu population during this period has decreased from 20.76 per cent (1961) to 16.76 per cent (2011) which when totals comes to 4 per cent. In this way we have come to know that during this period percentage of Muslim population decline has doubled from the percentage decline of Hindu population. This clearly indicates that Muslim community is trying its best to control its population growth with speed. According to experts who are watching future growth of population of different religions growth percentage of Muslim population will come to replacement level, that it will become stable by the year 2050.
Muslim population is much ahead of Hindu population to balance gender inequality between males and females. According to latest data there are 951 females against 1000 males in Muslim population while 12 females are less after 1000 males in Hindu population than Muslims which is a matter of great concern because gender inequality leads to many other social problems.
In fact percentage of population growth rate is directly related to literacy rate. During 2001 the literacy rate of Muslim population was only 59 per cent which was the lowest among all religions of the country. On the other hand, percentage of growth rate of Muslim population was the highest. In contrast the growth rate of Jains is the lowest that is only 5.4 per cent while they have the highest literacy rate 94.1 per cent during 2001. Literacy rate of Sikh population (69.4 per cent 2001) is at number four and percentage growth rate of population (8.4 per cent) is also at number four. Poverty and high illiteracy rate are the main reasons for the highest population growth rate of Muslims.
The social analysis about growth in population during 2011 underlines that population growth rate of all religions is declining rapidly and it is a welcome news for India because our population is growing with at a fast rate and no planning or programme proved effective to control it.
The Jain religion has recorded the highest declining growth rate of population among the different religions. It is 20.5 per cent, while second place goes to the Buddhists with 16.7 per cent, third place is for the Sikhs at 8.5 per cent, Christians get forth place at 7 per cent, Muslims stand at number five 4.7 per cent and Hindu religion is at the lowest merely 3 per cent.
The religion which has the highest share in total population in the country among all religions has the lowest rate of declining growth in population which is a matter of great concern.
In our country the first plan to control the growth of population was made in 1952 but the government of the day never took this issue seriously and effectively. However, China swiftly moved to control the growing population and drafted a plan for one child only in the year 1969, 17 years later than our first plan but they implemented it very sternly and effectively in 1970. In this way they controlled the growing population of their country but population of our country is continuously growing at a rapid rate. Today, every sixth person is Indian in the whole population of the world. Now, it is still time to rejoice to see the declining growth of our population and educate our people to understand the gravity of this problem and make earnest efforts to control the ever growing population instead of raising issues relating to population growth of different religions and disturb peace, and push the country into total chaos resulting in starvation and poverty.
According to Revised World Population Prospect Report of the United Nations for the year 2015 India is on course to be the worlds most populous country by 2022, surpassing China sooner than previously estimated. Two years earlier the same report had estimated that in the year 2028 India will become at number one in population leaving the second place for China. According to recent report within seven year, the population of India is expected to surpass that of China.
Our country and our people which comprise of our tall political and religious leaders and other people should rise to the occasion, discarding castes and religions, and seriously think about the betterment of our country, and dump vote bank politics involving religions and castes. Today, we have 35 per cent of youngsters in our population but they are jobless. The government must provide employment to them as per their qualifications and fitness so that our educated lot may not be trapped into drugs and crimes or may leave the country to taste green pastures abroad. Besides, these young people must be cared for their health and education so that they may become useful and strong enough to work whole heartedly for the welfare of our people and country. These young lots must not be allowed to involve into petty caste-religion conflicts which may push them into the state of oblivion and their intelligence and power to work may be destroyed forever.
Author is Professor & Head, Department of Geography, Punjabi University, Patiala.
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