THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Sunni Muslims and Ezhava Hindus will have a much larger role in the future of Kerala, considering these communities’ numerical strength and index of development benefits (IDB), according to a recent demographic study.
“While the IDB of most Christian denominations and some of the Hindu castes have passed the optimum level and are approaching negative values, the IDB of Sunni Muslims and Ezhava Hindus has not reached the peak levels,” says the study by renowned economist K C Zachariah. Zachariah’s study is the first-ever demographic exercise on the state’s different castes after the country abandoned the practice of collecting caste data in 1947. According to the study, Sunni Muslims constitute 24.9 per cent of the population, the highest representation. It is followed by Hindu Ezhavas, 21.6 per cent, and Nairs, 11.9 per cent.
Together, Sunni Muslims and Hindu Ezhavas constitute nearly half the population of Kerala and their share will go beyond 50 per cent in the near future, the report says. “Brahmins, Nairs and Syrian Christians who dominated the scene in the past have had their time. Their IDB is low and is decreasing and is not expected to increase at all. They have passed the inflexion point in this matter,” says the study.
The IDB is the change in the ratio of young workers to dependents in a population since the beginning of demographic transition.
Mar Thoma Christians who had the best socio-economic profile until a few years ago are at the bottom of the IDB scale now. While the high proportion of young workers will help their development in the case of Muslims and Ezhavas, the heavy load of elderly dependents could hamper the progress of the Mar Thoma and other Syrian Christian denominations in the future years.