The government today released the results of its 2011 religious census, the first since 2004. According to an official statement, the share of Hindus in the population has slipped below 80 per cent for the first time.
- The population in the latest census is at 121 crores. Hindus make up 79.8 per cent of the population at 96.63 crores and Muslims, with 17 crore people, are 14.2 per cent of the population.
- Christians are the third largest community with 2.78 crore people, that is 2.3 per cent of the population. They are followed by Sikhs (2.08 crores), Buddhists (84 lakhs) and Jains (45 lakhs).
- The government says the proportion of Hindus in the population has declined by 0.7 per cent, the proportion of Sikhs has reduced by 0.2 per cent and that of Buddhists have dipped by 0.1 per cent.
- The proportion of Muslims has increased by 0.8 per cent, says the government. There is no significant change in the proportion of Christians and Jains.
- The growth rate of Muslims is the highest at 24.6 per cent, the census reveals. Hindus follow with a 16.8 per cent growth rate, Christians come next with 15.5 per cent. The growth rates of Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains are less than 10 per cent.
- The data was compiled and readied by early 2014, but reportedly not released because of the national election.
- Sources say the Congress-led UPA government did not favour releasing the data at the time because it pointed at a significant growth in the Muslim population in districts along the eastern border.
- The Modi government decided to release the data soon after coming to power in May, say sources.
- The data was cleared for release just after US President Barack Obama’s visit in January this year.
- Usually, such data is released within three years.