06/10/2005, 00.00
INDIA
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Indian Buddhists reject religious census

Buddhist leaders complain that the government census treats Buddhists as if they were Hindu, reducing their numbers from 50 to 8 million.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Buddhist leaders have slammed the government for its recently released Census of Religions, which puts the number of Buddhists in the country at 8 million. They claim instead that the actual number of Buddhists in India "is closer to 50 million".

Population expert Ashish Bose studied the country's Buddhist community on behalf of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM). His findings suggest that its numbers have not changed over the past ten years and have "remained constant at 79.55 lakh [one lakh equals 100,000] for over a decade"

For Buddhist leaders, including the Dalai Lama's representative in India Tenzin Ngodupa, census takers deliberately registered hundreds of thousands of Buddhists as Hindus.

The leaders from Maharashtra were angry over the "deliberate omission" whereby new Buddhists were registered as Hindus.

NCM chairman Tarlochan Singh, chairman said that he would ask the central government to appraise Buddhist leaders' grievances and reconsider the accuracy of the census data.

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