New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – For the first time, India’s Muslims are growing faster than Hindus. More significantly, Christians grew faster than both, this despite numerous attacks against the community, including the pogroms in Kandhamal in 2008, whose anniversary was commemorated yesterday.
The Registrar General of India yesterday released the 2011 Census data for religious groups. During the period under consideration (2001-2011), Muslims increased by 0.8 per cent, from 138 million to 172.2 million, or from 13.43 per cent to 14.23 per cent of the total population.
The Hindu community grew by 0.7 per cent. For the first time in the history of the world’s largest Hindu nation, the Hindu proportion of the population dropped below 80 per cent (79.8 per cent) for a total of 966.3 million out of 1.211 billion people.
Except for Madhya Pradesh, the increase in the Muslim population in all big states - Rajasthan, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh - remained above the national average of 24.6 per cent.
By comparison, Christians grew by 15.5 per cent and now represent 2.3 per cent of the total population at 27.8 million. The Sikh population stood at 20.8 million (1.7 per cent), Buddhists are 8.4 million (0.7 per cent), and Jains are 4.5 million (0.4).
Whilst there has been no significant change in the proportion of Christians and Jains, that of Sikhs has declined by 0.2 percentage point and of Buddhists by 0.1 percentage point during the decade.
It is important to note that, despite anti-Christian persecution and several attacks on churches by Hindu radicals, the average growth rate of the Christian community (15.5 per cent) over the same period tops that of Muslims and comes close to that of Hindus (16.8 per cent).