(AsiaNews) - Nepal's Christians are growing. In ten years, they went from 0.4
per cent to 1.4 per cent in the country of 26 million, this according to the
latest census released by the Maoist-controlled government. The findings are
the first since Nepal became a secular state in 2007. The latest estimates were
from last year. Surprisingly, Hindus grew from 80 to 81 per cent. Muslims remained
the same at 4.4 per cent. Buddhists declined instead from 10.7 per cent to 9
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai unveiled the study. In his address, he stated that
no religion should use the results to ask for privileges. "The country is
secular and people from all minority religions will enjoy equal status," he
explained. "The government's programme will focus on women and minorities
because they were deprived in the past."
experts and religious leaders criticised the data's accuracy however, because
of imprecise information, especially in relation to religion.
believe our population is more than the report claims," Protestant leader CB
Gahatraj said. "The problem is that during the census period, many newly
converted Christians were afraid to tell their religion, and so were registered
as Hindu." What is more, "when data collectors didn't meet the people because
they were absent, they simply put them down as Hindu."
Bureau of Statistics (CBS) Director General Uttam Narayan Malla disagrees, saying
that data collection was all done by the book and that there was no need to
doubt its accuracy.
addition to religion, the census also looked at other important facts. Literacy
grew by 10 per cent over 2001. The highest literacy rate is in Kathmandu with 86.3
per cent. The lowest one is in the rural district of Rautahat (Terai) at only 41.7 per cent.
census also shows that the number of Nepali migrants is up. In ten years, their
numbers more than doubled, from 762,000 to more than 1.9 million.
overall population rose by 14.4 per cent whilst 25 new ethnic groups were