NEW DELHI: Ahead of the Bihar elections, the Centre has released religious census data showing the manner in which different communities have grown in the country during the past decade. The growth rate of Hindus between 2001-2011 was nearly 17 per cent, while that of Muslims 24.6 per cent.
While the proportion of the Hindu population to the total population declined by 0.7 percentage point (PP) in 2011, the proportion of Muslim population increased by 0.8 PP.
The Registrar General and Census Commissioner analysed the data on six major religious communities — Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain — besides “other religions and persuasions” and “religion not stated”.
The data, based on sex and residence, was released up to the sub-district and town levels.
India’s population in 2011 was 121.09 crore. Hindus constituted the majority with 96.63 crore (79.8 per cent), but their overall percentage fell from 80.45 per cent in 2001. Muslims numbered 17.22 crore which made them the second largest community in the country constituting 14.2 per cent. Christians were 2.78 crore (2.3 per cent of the total population); Sikhs 2.08 crore (1.7 per cent); Buddhists 0.84 crore (0.7 per cent); Jains 0.45 crore (0.4 per cent), Other Religions and Persuasions (ORP) 0.79 crore (0.7 per cent) and those who did not state any were 0.29 crore (0.2 per cent).
The data is likely to become an election issue in states like Assam, Bihar and West Bengal where the Muslim population has shown a sharp increase, compared to Hindus. The local populace has often raised the issue of illegal Bangladeshi migrants changing the demographic of these states.