Where have all Buddhists in Karnataka gone?

The population of Buddhists in Karnataka has fallen drastically in just a decade.

Published: 18th October 2022 06:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th October 2022 06:23 AM   |  A+A-

Dalai Lama, left, along with another monk draws a mandala, or a circle, which has spiritual and ritual significance in Buddhism. AP

Express News Service

BENGALURU: The population of Buddhists in Karnataka has fallen drastically in just a decade. From a mere 4 lakh in the 2001 census, the number of those professing Buddhism has declined to just 75,000 in the 2011 census, a dip of 3.25 lakh people. Buddhists, who are a minority, are spread across many areas in the state and the decline has been recorded in all these parts.

The Karnataka State Minority Commission, which discovered the anomaly, has urged the Directorate of Census through a communication to conduct a proper census with respect to the Buddhist community in the state. Minority Commission Chairman and former MLC Abdul Azeem said, “The issue needs to be looked into more closely.”

Advocate KV Dhananjay, who practises in the Supreme Court, said, “This is a distressing development. There’s really no need for anybody to tell the Census Department that something is seriously wrong with their methodology; it is all too obvious. It would be a greater distress should the Census Department be insensitive or indifferent to how such a big chunk of a minority disappeared between the two census readings.

As part of a careful discharge of its duty, the Department should offer a public explanation as to why this anomaly is registered this way. If in doubt, it would be better for the Department to suspend the recent census and rework it. India is already in a storm internationally when it comes to minority protection. Buddhist-leaning countries in Asia are also likely to register their concern about minority protection in India -- when a few lakh Buddhists in just one state disappear in the government census in this manner.’’

Cabinet Minister Govind Karjol told TNIE, “The matter needs to be looked into. They have to search to see where the missing persons have disappeared. They have to conduct a survey to find out the truth.’’

Historian Dr K Mohan Kumar said, “Buddhism is India’s first world religion. From here, it spread to other parts of the world, like China, Japan, Sri Lanka and so on. but here it declined.’’

Experts said the large number of Tibetans in Bylakuppe and Mundgod, who are Buddhists, are still considered refugees and are not counted in the national census.


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