Ground Report | New Delhi: Muslims have highest birth rate; A recent study by the Pew Research Center has found that the birth rate in all the religions of India has decreased continuously, due to which there have been minor changes in the basic religious structure of the country. In a country with a population of 1.2 billion, 94 percent of people belong to Hindu and Muslim religions. Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains make up the remaining six percent of the population.
The Pew Research Center has done a detailed study of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) and census data. Through this study, an attempt has been made to understand what kind of changes have taken place in the religious structure in India and if so, what are the reasons for them.
The population of India in the 1951 census was 361 million, which had increased to 1.2 billion in 2011. Pew’s study says that during this period the population of all religions increased. The population of Hindus has increased from 30.4 crores to 96.6 crores. The number of followers of Islam increased from 35 million to 172 million, while the population of Christians increased from 8 million to 28 million.
Muslims have highest birth rate
According to the study, Muslims still have the highest birth rate in India. According to 2015 data, the Muslim birth rate in India was 2.6 per woman. Next comes the number of Hindus who were giving birth to 2.1 children per woman. Jainism had the lowest birth rate of 1.2.
But the study highlights that this trend has not changed much. According to research, even in 1992, Muslims had the highest birth rate (4.4) which was higher than Hindus (3.3). “However, the difference in birth rates between different religions has narrowed considerably,” the study says.
This has happened because there has been the biggest decrease in the increase in the birth rate of minorities. In the early decades, the Muslim birth rate was increasing very rapidly, while now it has decreased significantly. Stephanie Cramer, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center, writes that the birth rate of Muslim women under the age of 25 has decreased by almost two children in a single generation.
According to Cramer, there were 3.4 births per Indian woman in the 1990s, which dropped to 2.2 in 2015. The biggest contribution in this is of Muslim women. In the 1990s, on average, every Muslim woman gave birth to 4.4 children, which came down to 2.6 in 2015. That is, in 1992, Muslim women were giving birth to 1.1 children more than Hindus and in 2015 this difference came down to 0.5 children.
Muslim population increased the most
In the last 60 years, the population of Muslims has increased by 4 percent while that of Hindus has decreased by almost the same. The population of the rest of the religions has remained almost constant.
According to the 2011 census, there were 966 million Hindus in India, which is 79.8 percent of the total population. Compared to the 2001 census, this number was 0.7 per cent lower, and when compared to the 1951 census, the Hindu population decreased by 4.3 per cent from 84.1 per cent then.
In comparison, the population of Muslims has increased. There were 13.4 percent Muslims in India in 2001 which increased to 14.2 percent in 2011. Compared to 1951, the population of Muslims had increased by 4.4 percent. There was not much change in the number of believers of Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
This change in population is not uniform across the country. Changes in population composition have been observed in some states more than in other states. For example, the Hindu population in Arunachal Pradesh declined by 6 percent between 2001 and 2011 but increased by 2 percent in Punjab.