The Hindu, Novemver 11, 2003
By Ashish BoseThis book contains massive data on the religious composition of India’s population, based on census data from 1881 to 1991 (2001 census data on religion are not yet available).
A special feature of this publication is the comprehensive collection of data on religion for all continents and countries of the world. It also gives detailed data for India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Its focus is on areas of Muslim and Christian concentration in different regions of India.
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India Today, May 12, 2003
Future Tension: A handy guide to religious strife in India
by Swapan Dasgupta
When it comes to documentation, there were few who were as obsessive and fastidious as the British. Almost everything, from the flora and fauna to the complex ethnography of territories in their charge, was analysed threadbare. Administrative convenience was the prime motivation but Vicotrian Britons were also motivated by knowledge for its own sake. The sheer scale of detailing involved in projects like The Imperial Gazetteer went far beyond the call of duty.
Does it matter if the population of Hindus in India rises or falls in proportion to the population of, say, Muslims, who form the largest minority in the country? We may hear the liberal voice saying, plaintively: “May be not’’. May be not? What if in some states the percentage of Hindu population falls precipitously? What effect will that have on the politics and peace of the country? Few intellectuals in India have really given much thought to this aspect of demography.
India of the title encompasses modern India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In an impressive statistical exercise requiring adjustments for numerous changes in administrative boundaries, the authors compile time series of census estimates of population by religious affiliation from 1881 to 1991. For most of the book’s statistical profiles, Hindus are grouped together with the proportionately small numbers of Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Tribal religionists, Zoroastrians, and Bahais in a category termed Indian religionists. The authors’ principal interest is to display the changing size and population share of this group in comparison to Muslims and Christians.
Any discussion of demography in India has invariably turned towards three determinants: education, economic development and religion. The higher fertility and growth rates of the Muslims, when compared with the declining fertility and growth rates of the Hindus, have raised the potential threat of Muslims outnumbering Hindus…
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