India sees biggest ever fall in population growth; Muslim, Hindu rate crashes 21%, 6% 

By: | Updated: August 27, 2015 9:50 PM

From Muslims, Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs to Jains and more, India is a colourful tapestry of multiple religions that co-exist together.

India population growthThe Hindu population growth declined from 23% to 16.76%. (Reuters)

From Muslims, Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs to Jains and more, India is a colourful tapestry of multiple religions that co-exist together. This religious break-up is mirrored by the Census of India that brought out multiple new dimensions to the Indian population story. Among these some crucial facts which get spotlighted are that in this decade occurred the sharpest falls in the decadal population growth since 1971; the overall population growth fell over eight percentage points from 26% in 2001 to 17.74% in 2011 – this could be attributed to better education levels and rising incomes which stem from the impact of two decades of liberalisation.

But the sharpest fall has been in Muslim population growth. It fell from an all-time high of 45.2% in the decade ending 2001 to 24.6% in 2011. Today, there are 172 million Muslims against 138 million in 2001. Despite the fall in growth, the share of the Muslim population in the country has risen almost a percentage point from 13.4% in 2001 to 14.24% in 2011.


That’s because other religions too have seen a slowing down of growth. The Hindu population growth declined from 23% to 16.76%. So there are 966 million Hindus now against 827.5 million in 2001. Hindus now account for 79.8% of the population now from 80.5% in 2001. This is the first time ever that India’s Hindu population share has fallen below 80%. It has gradually fallen from 83.5% in 1961 to today’s level.

The Christian population growth has slumped from 27% (2001) to 15.8% (2011). But, despite the fall, there has been no change of its share in the population mix at 2.3%. Incidentally, the Christian share of India’s population peaked at 2.6% in 1971, but has since been at the 2.3% levels. Similarly, the Sikh population has hovered in the 1.9-2% range all along. But, the interesting bit this time round is 2.9 million people (0.24%) who have not stated any religion. That’s up 314% from 0.7 million in 2001. That’s something in a country where religion has been the marker for all.

Changing population numbers


Of the country’s 172 million Muslims, 144 million (83.6%) live in just 10 states. Uttar Pradesh has 38.5 million muslims followed by West Bengal (24.6 million) and Bihar 17.55 million. However, Lakshadweep leads with 96.6% of its populace being Muslims, while  Jammu & Kashmir comes next with 68.3%.

74% of the country’s Christian population of 27.8 million is in 10 states. Kerala has 6.1 million followed by Tamil Nadu 4.4 million and Meghalaya 2.2 million. Nagaland (87.93%), Mizoram (87.16%) and Meghalaya (74.6%) have the highest concentration of Christians in the country.

In eight states Hindus account for less than 50% of the population. Mizoram has the least proportion (2.75%), followed by Lakshadweep (2.77%), Nagaland (8.75%), Meghalaya (11.5%), J&K (28.4%), Arunachal (29%), Punjab (38.5%) and Manipur (41.4%). In Punjab Sikhs account for 57.7% of the population while in Kerala there are 54.7% Hindus, 26.5% Muslims and 18.4% Christians.

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