Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ch. 6 : Demography of Islam in the Subcontinent



‘Demography’, they say, ‘is destiny.’ The ultimate measure of the success or failure of a people is not only in their numbers but also in the content of their civilisation which alone enables them with the skills to survive when confronted by forces thereatening their destruction. The academic, intellectual and policy-influencing class in post-Independence India has considered it politically incorrect and improper to undertake any serious study of the comparative numbers of the adherents of different religions in this country. Demographers of other nations of the world, however, routinely and as a matter of course, collect data and keep studying the relative numbers of different peoples inhabiting their territories, and both predict and analyse changing trends in the population and its demography.

The Indian subcontinent today is inhabited by two distinct religious and perhaps civilisational groups: the Hindus (and this includes adherents of all faiths which originated in this nation-civilization) and the adherents of the Abrahamic religions (and this in includes the Christians and the Muslims*). In this chapter we propose to study the relative proportaion of the Muslim population of India vis a-vis the Hindus keeping in view the long historical perpective on this issue, and to derive future trends from this historical experience. Key statistics available on the subject are given in this Chaper and in Appendix C to enable the reader to draw his own conclusions. It will become apparent after studying the available data on Muslim demography that if urgent steps are not taken to correct the emerging imbalance, the above phrase will be literally true by the end of the twenty-first century with the likelihood of Hindus being wiped out from most, if not all, of the subcontinent.

Although Islam entered the subcontinent in the middle of the seventh century and ruled considerable portions of the territory for around eight hundred years, a spectacular increase in their relative growth appears to have come about only after the advent of British rule. It is very difficult to give a single convincing reason for this phenomenon. But as thinds stand, even without any efforts at religious conversion, Muslims are likely to overtake the Hindus in numbers, in the subcontinent, around the middle of this century. This will happen even earlier if Christian missionaries meanwhile manage to ‘harvest’ our souls in keeping with their recently stated objective.

We have little information about Muslim demography in the country until the British started to conduct regular census survey from 1871 onwards. Hence we can only make educated guesses on the basis of extrapolating the census figures backwards for a few decades and with whatever stray and meager data that is available for the earlier period. When the census figures for Muslims of the subcontinent are plotted, it is seen that the increase of the percent Muslim population for the British period i.e., 1881 to 1951 AD, shows an almost linear trend and can be extrapolated with some confidence at least until 1801. When this is done, the proportaion of the Muslims in the subcontinent in 1800 AD appears to be about 13-15% and thus the Hindu : Muslim ratio is close to 6.

This figure should be compared with the statements made by Akbar and Jehangir around 1600 AD. ‘Tarikh-i-Salim Shahi’, written by Jehangir states that “for the whole population of Hindustaun, it is notorious that five parts in six are composed of Hindus, the adorers of images, and the whole concern of trade and manufactures, weaving, and other industrious and lucrative pursuits, are entirely under the management of these classes. Were it therefore, ever so much my desire to convert them to the true faith, it would be impossible, otherwise than through the incision of millions of people. Attached as they are to their religions, such as it is, they will be snared in the web of their own inventions : they cannot escape the retribution prepared for them; but the massacre of a whole people can never be any business of mine.” In the same book, Jehangir records a conversation he had with his father, Emperor Akbar. Akbar is recorded to have said, “Besides are not five parts in six of mankind either Hindus or aliens to our faith; and were I to be governed by motives of the kind suggested in your inquiry, what alternative can I have but to put them all to death! I have thought it therefore my wisest plan to let these men alone.”

Thus both Akbar and Jehangir estimate the proportion of Hindus of Muslims as being 5:1 or the proportion of Muslims at this time is 16.7%. This figure is not very different from the ratio of 6:1 and 13-15% estimated by us for 1800 AD. There could be two reasons for the slight variation. The emperors were making only a guesstomate in round figures to prove their point, and the figures could have included Mughal territories like Afghanistan which are totally Muslim and are not included in our discussions. Also South India which was outside of the Mughal empire and which had never come under uninterrupted Muslim rule, comprised predominantly of Hindus. Hence it is safe to assume that for the subcontinent as a whole, the Hindu:Muslim ratio was about 6 during these two centuries and that the Muslims constituted less than 15% of the population during this period.

There may be several reasons for this static figure. Except during the time of Aurangazeb, Muslim rulers did not enforce conversion of the Hindus as a matter of Islamic state policy because they were kept preoccupied by continuous political turmoil in different parts of their kingdom. Besides, rulers like Akbar had some regard for the tenets of Hinduism and therefore some tolerance for it. The spiritual awakening caused by the Bhaki movement in most parts of the country enabled the Hindus to face oppression stoically withouth changing their religion. The decrease in numbers could also be due to national resurgence and weakening of the Muslim rule in most parts of India from around the middle of the seventeenth century.

There is another important factor overriding the above considerations. The Islamic rulers governed their territories from urban centers and capitals. Their penetration into rural society was not too deep. Communities continued to govern themselves in their traditional ways. Hindu society, strongly organised within the caste-system, theough greatly weakened in its political and cultural expressions, continued to function. It was only during the British period that this system was systematically and ruthlessly uprooted causing an unprecedented dislocation of the people and also causing object poverty. This was probably one of the reasons which may explain the spurt in the relative proportion of the Muslims, and later of the Christians, that began to take place after the coming of the British.

Hence in the nine centuries between 700 and 1600 AD, the Islamic population in the subcontinent grew from nil to about 15%. By about 1100 AD, the present territories of Pakistan my have become a Muslim majority region, but further penetration into the rest of India would have been minimal. In 1199 AD, Bengal was invaded by the Turkish adventurer Mohammed Bakhtiar Khilji, and the region remained under Muslim control until the British took over Bengal. Consequently a greater part of Bengal became Muslim Majority and was constituted as East Pakistan/Bangladesh from 1947 onwards.

Assam, however, could not be subdued by the invaders. The rest of India constituting today’s Indian Union may have had a Muslim population of less than 10% during most of this period except for a few pockets. This shows how successfully people of the Hindu faiths have resisted the onslaught of Islam even after several centuries of Islamic rule, unlike the regions around Arabia.

The centuries old Indian resistance to the rise of Islam seems to wilt after the coming of the British to India. Hence we shall now study the census and other data from 1881 onwards and see how the demographic religious character of the subcontinent has changed substantially.


The Centre For Policy Studies, Chennai, has complied from census records, data on religion for the subcontinent for the period 1881 to 1991. A summary of their findings is given in Appendix C as Table C-T1. It may be pointed out that although the figures for the subcontinent are available from 1881, the figures for the individual countries until 1951 are available only from the 1901 census onwards. To be precise, after Independence, the Government of India did not undertake the exercise to segregate the data on religion for post-independent, divided India from the consolidated data, while the Governments of Pakistan and later, Bangladesh did so; and therefore census data on religion for divided India is available only from Pakistan and Bangladesh Census records from 1901 to 1941 and not from Indian Census Records which continue to have only the consolidated data for undivided India. Hence the Indian Union figures have been calculated indirectly by subtracting the figures provided by Pakistan and Bangladesh from the subcontinent totals. This data has been summarized in Table 6.1 and important changes highlighted.

The Table contains the population of the subcontinent and the three countries for five landmark region for each year and a ‘Growth Ratio’ to show by how many times the population in each category has increased during these three specific periods. For the subcontinent, the periods between 1881-1951 and 1851-1991 have been considered since the first represents the pre0Independence and the second, the post-Independence phase. For each country, however, the periods between 1901-41 and 1951-91 have been considered as significant periods since partition has made a qualitative difference in their populations and also to evaluate the pre- and post-Independence changes. The period between 1951-91 is common to all.


When we look at the subcontinent as a whole, during the pre-partition period from 1881 to 1951, The Muslims have grown about 35% faster than the Hindus (2.22/1.65 = 1.35). The Christians have in creased more spectacularly by five times with the obvious connivance of the British. Percentage of Hindu has decreased from 79.0% in 1881 to 73.0% in 1951. There is a corresponding steep increase of 4.9% in the Muslim population from 20.0% to 24.9%. The Hindu/Muslim ratio, which was perhaps close to six in 1800 as seen earlier, had already fallen to 4.0 in 1881 and the decrease has continued to 2.9 in 1951.
Table 6.1 : Growth Ratios of Important Religions
(Population in millions)
1881 1901 1941 1951 1991 1901-41 1951-91 1901-91
SUBCONTINENT 1881- 1881-
1951 1991
TOTAL 250.16 283.87 389.00 445.00 1080.16 1.78 2.42 4.32
HINDUS 197.52 218.86 286.58 325.77 733.82 1.65 2.25 3.72
78.96% 77.10% 73.67% 73.04% 67.94%
Muslims 49.95 62.12 94.45 111.11 323.44 2.22 2.91 6.47
19.97% 21.88% 24.28% 24.91% 29.94%
Christians 1.78 2.78 7.43 8.97 21.92 5.05 2.44 12.33
0.71% 0.98% 1.91% 2.01% 2.03%

Muslims 4.0 3.5 3.0 2.9 2.3
TOTAL 238.36 318.72 361.38 846.30 1.34 2.34 3.55
HINDUS 206.41 268.57 315.17 719.59 1.30 2.28 3.49
86.59% 84.27% 87.21% 85.03%
Muslims 29.10 42.65 37.69 106.55 1.47 2.83 3.66
12.21% 13.38% 10.43% 12.59%
Christians 2.74 6.95 8.43 19.65 2.53 2.33 7.16
1.15% 2.18% 2.33% 2.32%
Muslims 7.1 6.3 8.4 6.8
TOTAL 16.58 28.28 40.45 122.40 1.71 3.03 7.38
Muslims 13.90 22.29 39.48 118.48 1.60 3.00 8.52
83.88% 78.82% 97.60% 96.60%
HINDUS 2.64 5.57 0.53 1.86 2.11 0.70
15.93% 16.69% 1.31% 1.5%
Muslims (est)
HINDUS 5.3 4.0 74.4
TOTAL 28.93 42.00 44.17 111.46 1.45 2.52 3.85
Muslims 19.11 29.51 33.94 98.42 1.54 2.90 5.15
66.07% 70.26% 76.85% 88.30%
HINDUS 9.82 12.44 10.07 12.37 1.27 1.23 1.26
33.93% 29.61% 22.79% 11.10%
HINDUS 1.9 2.4 3.4 8.0

The British had also noticed the faster growth of the Muslim population early enough and the 1911 Census Report gives the increase in Hindu and Mslim population during 1881 to 1911 in various provinces. The data in this Table supports a number of observations made in this chapter.

Table 6.2 : Percent increase between 1881 and 1911

Province Increase per cent since 1881

Hindu Mussalaman
18.7 43.2
Bengal 15.9 31.8
Bihar and Orissa 13.3 11.2
CP and Berar 22.0 24.4
Madras 30.6 43.0
Punjab and NWFP -5.0 22.5
United Provinces 5.6 12.0

It should be noted that apart from a faster increase in Muslim population, the Muslims were concentrated in certain regions. Kingsley Davis1, a pioneer in the demographic studies of the subcontinent, has the following to say on the ‘Demographic basis of Pakistan.’ “The only fact which made partition possible was the concentration of Muslims in certain parts of India...there was a high degree of concentration. Out of a total of 435 Districts, or other comparable divisions in India in 1941, there were 76 whose population was more than half Muslim. These representing only 17 per cent of all districts of India, contained 60 percent of the entire Muslim population. Among the 76 Muslim-majority districts there were 50 whose population was more than three-fourths Muslim...It so happened that majority district existed apart from these two clusters, nor did either cluster completely contain a Hindu-majority district. Conseqiently, the two clusters, embracing some 56 million Muslims in 1941, formed the geographic and demographic reality that made the idea of Pakistan feasible.”

On the trauma of mass migrations accompanying the partition Davis notes: “...there arose spontaneously one of the largest and quickest mass migrations in human history. No one knows and not one will ever know the exact figures, but it appears that about 6 million Muslims came into Pakistan and about 5 to 6 million non-Muslims left it. Something like one million of the total died in the process...” Some other observers, Davis notes, give a higher figure of migrants coming into India 6 millions from West Pakistan and 1.5 millions from East Pakistan. The deficit in the number of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh seen in 1951 in Table. 5.1, above indicates that at least nine million Hindus have migrated or died in the holocaust after taking into account their natural forming again in the Indian Union, leading to a possibility of further partitions on religious basis. It will not be out of place to mention here that once the Muslim population reaches a critical mass in any region, they will drive away others by terror as has been seen in the past and is happening now in Jammu and Ladakh.

After partition, the change in the relative porportion has been even more rapid. The Hindus have grwon at the rate of 2.25 times in the post-Independence period between 1951-91 whereas Muslims have increased by 2.91 times, that is, again about 30% higher. During these forty years the percentage of Hindus has come down by 5.1 against a Muslim increase of 5.0 compared to 3.4 and 2.4 respectively in an equivalent forty year period between 1901 to 1941. The Hindu:Muslim ratio has come down from 2.9 in 1951 to 2.3 in 1991, a very significant decrease. In absolute terms, the number of Hindus has increased from 326 million in 1951 to 734 million in 1991, the corresponding figures for the Muslims being 111 and 323 millions respectively.


Coming to constituent units, we find that in today’s Pakistan while the percentage of Hindus was increasing marginally in the pre-partition period, they were subject to a genocide in the partition riots with their percentage coming down drastically from 19.7 in 1941 to 1.3 in 1951. The 1951 Census Report of Pakistan itself gives the following information on their numbers in various states.

Table 6.3 : Population of Hindus in Pakistan’s Provinces
(Population in thousands)
1941 1951
Province Total Hindus Total Hindus
Pakistan 28282 5568 33704 530
Baluchistan Districts 502 57.2 602 4
Baluchistan States 356 10 552 9
Karachi Corp 365 195 1007 17
NWFP Districts 3038 249 3223 6
Punjab 15717 3943 18828 33
Bhawalpur 1341 242 1823 15
Sind 4099 1100 4606 457

The Muslim:Hindu ratio in Pakistan has changed dramatically from 4 to 74, indicating the extent of the genocide. Perhaps nowhere in the world has such a change gone unpublicized and unchallenged in recent times. Most of the Hindus in Pakistan according to the 1981 Pakistan census lived in Sind, (80% of them in its rural areas.) The growth ratios for Pakistan are also highest in the region, with an enormous 7.4 times increase in their population from 1901 to 1991.

An explanation is needed for the quantum jump of Pakistan’s population from 28.28m in 1941 to 40.45 m in 1951 as seen in Table 6.1 This should note be taken as Muslim migration from India as a result of partition. The enumerated population for Pakistan in only 32.73m for 1951. But as results of surveys carried out by international agencies after the 1961 census show, under-remuberation to the extent of 7-12% was found. Hence the population figure was worked backwards to 40.45m in 1951. The preIndependence figures have not been similarly revised. Similar revisions in post-Independence population of Bangladesh have also been done. While Bangladesh’s census authorities have officially revised their enumerated figures, we have not comes across official revisions by Pakistan’s census authorities.

The Hindu population has not been eliminated so ruthlessly in today’s Bangladesh as was done in Pakistan, at one stroke, but it is nevertheless decreasing fast. From 33.9% in 1901 it had already come down to 29.6% in 1941, and the partition resulted in a further fall, to 22.8%. This significant decrease due to partition can be see again from the 1951 Pakistan census figures:

Table 6.4 : Population of Hindus in Bangladesh’s Provinces
(Population in thousands)
1941 1951
Province Total Hindus Total Hindus
Bangladesh 41997 12437 41932 9558
Chittagong 11310 3226 11722 2801
Dhakka & Barisal 16746 4019 16004 3318
Khulna 4527 1696 4598 1528
Rajshahi 9414 2792 9338 1912

The perscution of Hindus still continues and the percentage has fallen down to 11.1% in 1991. This decrease is well illustrated in the Table below.

Table 6.5 : Changing Percentage of Hindus in Bangladesh Divisions
(Population in thousands)

1951 1961 1974 1981 1991
Bangladesh 22.80 19.19 14.14 12.75 11.10
Barisal 20.12 17.67 15.35 13.56 11.66
Chittagong 23.89 20.18 14.43 13.96 12.66
Dhaka 20.47 16.55 11.83 9.76 8.19
Khulna 33.22 28.73 20.80 19.43 16.02
Rajshahi 20.47 17.30 12.95 11.56 10.57

It will also be seen that in Bangladesh during the period 1901 to 1991 the Muslims have grwon by 5.2 times and Hindus only by 1.3 times, thus altering the Muslim:Hindu ratio from 1.9 in 1901 to 8.0 in 1991. Projections of census figures indicate that within a few decades Hindus will be an insignificant minority in Bangladesh.

Two points seem worth noting respect to Bangladesh. Firstly, the growrh ratios of the country in the post-partition period would have been much higher if the estimated thirty million and more Muslims and Hindus in Bangladesh are similar in 1991, the Hindus are an oppressed people in Bangladesh, unlike the Muslims in India. Even in the Hindu majority Indian Union, Hindus have decreased from 87.2% to 85.0% and the Muslims have correspondigly increased form 10.4% to 12.6% from 1951 to 1991. If a proper census had been taken of illegal Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants (estimated by some at 16 millions), the increase would perhaps be even higher. The Muslim leaders are already claiming that they have been under enumerated by 20% and some of them even state the their present strength in 200 million! Unfortunately they have not been asked to clarify the source of their estimates. Even on the basis of the census figures, the Hindus : Muslim ratio has decreased from 8.4 to 6.8. A significant increase of Muslim population has taken place in certain parts of the country many of which are adjacent to our borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh as will be seen from Map 6.1.

A very interesting feature of the population change from 1951 to 1991 in Table 6.1 is that the Muslim population has grown to the same extent, i.e. about three times in the subcontinent as well as its constituent units. Hence it appears that their fertility over this period is the same, irrespective of their location. We shall look into this aspect in detail below.


A number of international agencies have attempted to forecast the population trends of various countries. Since population growth is a function of several variables like fertility, longevity, mortality, age distribution and infant deaths, the forecast will depend on the values assigned to these factors. These factors themselves vary with time and their prediction is a complex task. As a result, these estimates vary considerably. We reproduce below the estimates made by the United Nations in 1996 and shall use them for our projections.

Table 6.6 : Growth Ratios as per UN estimates

POULATION (in million) Growth Ratios
1990 2020 2050
1950 1990 2000 2020 2050 1950 1950 1950
India 357.6 850.8 1007 1272 1533 2.38 3.56 4.29
Pakistan 39.5 119.1 156 248 357.4 3.02 6.28 9.05
Bangladesh 41.8 109.8 128 171 218.2 2.63 4.09 5.22
Subcontinent 438 1080 1291 1691 2108 2.47 3.86 4.81
These estimates indicate that in the hundred years between 1950-2050, the population of the Indian Union shall multiply by 4.29 times, that of Bangladesh by 5.22 and of Pakistan by 9.05 (for Pakistan the increase will be nearly 22 times from 1900 to 2050). This differential growth in the three regions shall occur on top of similar differences persisting over at least the previous hundred years. Between 1901-1991, the population of the areas that constitute the Indian Union multiplied by 3.55, that of Bangladesh by 3.85 and of Pakistan by 7.38 (Table 6.1). The difference in the rate of growth of the areas constituting present day Pakistan has been so large, that at the time of partition, the areas that constituted present day Bangladesh were more populous than Pakistan; by 1990 the population of Pakistan has overtaken that of Bangladesh. But growth in Bangladesh is to some extent masked by large-scale immigration of Bangladeshi people into India. It is estimated that a total of 30 million Bangladeshis might have crossed over India since Independence.

The international estimates do not give data on religion. However, since Pakistan and Bangladesh have now become almost entirely Muslim, and the percentage of Muslims in the population of the Indian Union has been rising decade after decade, the sharp differences in the future growth trends of Pakistan and Indian are likely to significantly change the proportion of Hindus to Muslims on the subcontinent.

Another way to look at the future trends of population is to extrapolate the population figures of the last hundred years, for which accurate census data is available. Such extrapolation rests on the assumption that the factors that have led to differential growth of differnet people on the subcontinent, remain unchanged. We have graphically carried out such extrapolation, using the census data from 1881-1991 complied in Table C0T1 and subjecting it to standard statistical techniques. The trend graph in Figure 6.1, displays an excellent fir wth the census figures; and extrapolation of the graph beyond the census years, shows that the proportion of Muslims in the subcontinent is likely to reach the 50%, even earlier.

The future fertility factor should also be taken into account. The UN has revised its 1996 population estimates of the subcontinent downwards as compared to the 1994 estimates, due to the decreasing fertility rate as a result of family planning measures. It will be seen below that the fertility amongst the Muslims has been considerably higher than that of the Hindus and the difference in increasing. This will lead to an even faster relative growth of their population which will prepone the above event. There is no reason to believe that this situation will be reversed particularly in view of the frequent proclamations of the Muslim religious and political leaders that they shall welcome a higher population growth of the Muslims so that they can overtake the Hindu population.

An indirect confirmation of a faster relative growth comes from a statement by Rafiq Zakaria2- ‘the enrollment of Muslim children at the primary school level in the relevant period was 12.39% as against the child population of 16.81%’. So Rafiq Zakaria has in effect claimed that in 1984, Muslim children constituted 16.81% of the total. This implies that around 2010 AD when this group reaches the median position, the native Muslim population of India, not counting the post 1984 Muslim immigrants, will be about 17%. This is much higher than the figure of about 15% for the 2011 census obtained by projecting the Muslim population of India on the basis of past census figures from 1951 to 1991.

We should also take into account the demographic pressures of our Muslim neighbours as a result of their increased population. An assessment of UN population and FAO agriculture statistic together indicates that the number of persons supported by one hectare of cultivable land will be approximately 9, 17 and 24 in 2050 AD for India, Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively. This implies that the population pressure in Pakistan and Bangladesh will be much higher than in the case of India. Already intellectuals in Bangladesh are talking about lebensraum for their citizens and supporting the unchecked illegal immigration into India (see Note in Appendix C). This pressure will greatly intensify in future and we can also expect similar pressures on our western borders. Our vulnerability will greatly increase as a result. It is time for the Indian government as well as the enlightened public to realise the gravity of the situation and take appropriate measures on a war footing instead of being lured by a temporarily favorable factor of election votes.


Fertility in demography refers to the number of children born to a woman. Greater the fertility the greater will be the overall population growth. The overall growth rate ofthe population is basically determined bythe difference of birth rate and death rate and death rate or fertility and mottality. A reduction in fertility leads to slowing down of the population growth rate and hence is an objective very much sought after through contraception and other means of birth control. But as a country develops economically, due to better medical facilities, initially the death rates comes down. Hence the rate of growth of the population accelerates as has happened in the subcontinent. This continues until the decrease in birth rate sufficiently exceeds the deccrease in death rate. Only with great effort can the birth rate be suffciently reduced to restore the balance. In this reduction the social, political and religious factors play an important role.

There are several ways of quantifying fertility statistically, although none of them are above any controversy. The two widely used terms are TFR or Total Fertility Rate which is the weighted average of all births to women between the ages 15-49 (i.e. the period in which all their children are usually born) during the three years preceding the survey and CEB or Children EVer Born to women who are past their reproductive age. Since women rarely have children after they cross the age of fifty, the number of children born to them until then gives a good indication of their fertility. TMFR (Total Marital Fertility Rate) is another term used in earlier the entire range of child bearing women at the time of survey whereas the CEB covers only older women. In a society with a falling fertility, the latter is alsways higher than the former. In fact the future CEB values will tend to equal the current TFR values after a decade or two. Hence the difference between the two at a given point of time indicates how successful family planning measures have become. We shall be using these terms frequently in the discussions below.

During the British period itself the Census Commussioners, as indicated above, had noted the differential growth of Hindus and Muslims but only speculated on the causes behind them. Kingsley Davis, after analysing all available census data, has observed, “The sources of this gain [in Muslim population] apparently lies not in conversion but in the greater fertility of the Muslims, which in turn is attributable primarily to their greater tolerance of widow remarriage. Muslim women marry almost us universally as Hindu women, and they remarry considerably more frequently...The result is that a higher proportion of women in the reproductive ages are married, and this accounts for a portion of the among Muslims are more fertile than they are among the Hindus. This is a condition that has existed at every census [Appendix C, Tablle C-T2a]....Not onlu is there a greater proportion of the Muslim women married, but those who are married also have a higher fertility. The consistency of the Muslim advantage in past years suggests that it is deep rooted and likely to continue for some time.”

The noted scholars, Visaria and Visaria have also observed that in the pre-Independence decades the average death rate for Muslims was generally lower than others and their fertility was 10-15 percent higher than Hindus for the period between 1901-31. Mohanty noted that the Muslim growth was higher because they occupied more fertile lands as in Eastern Bengal and the canal irrigated lands in Western Punjab and Sind. This observation lends credence to the charge that the British intentionally neglected the northern core Hindu regions like UP and Bihar as can be seen from their spatial distribution or share of the subcontinent’s population in table below.

Table 6.7 : Spatial Distribution of Population in some Regions of the Subcontinent
(Population in thousands)
1901 1941 1951 1981 1991
Pakistan 293.9 389.0 446.0 861.4 1,080.2
5.84% 7.27% 9.07% 10.24% 11.33%
Punjab 10,314 17,168 20.637 47,292
3.63% 4.41% 4.63% 5.49%
Sind 3,410 4,841 6,048 19.029
1.20% 1.24% 1.36% 2.21%
Bangladesh 28.9 42.0 44.2 89.9 111.5
10.19% 10.80% 9.90% 10.44% 10.32%
India 238.4 318.7 361.4 683.3 846.3
83.97% 81.93% 81.03% 79.32% 78.35%
Uttar Pradesh 48,628 56,535 63,210 110,862 139,112
17.13% 14.53% 14.17% 12.87% 12.88%
Bihar 27,312 35,171 38.782 69,915 86,374
9.62% 9.04% 8.70% 8.12% 8.00%
Kerala 6,396 11,032 13,549 25,454 29,099
2.25% 2.84% 3.04 2.95% 2.69%
Country population in million; state population in thousands

For each region the first row gives the population and the second gives percentage in terms of the subcontinent’s population

The population of Bihar has thus declined from 9.62 percent of the total population of the subcontinent in 1900 to 8.00 percent in 1991; and that of Uttar Pradesh has come down from 17.13 to 12.88 percent during the same period. If instead of looking at the population of these provines as a proportion of the population of the subcontinent, we look at the proportion these populations forms of population of the Indian Union, we still see a significant decline. Thus between 1901 and 1991, the share of UP in the population of the Indian Union has come down from 20.4% to 16.4% and of Bihar from 11.5% to 10.2%. On the other hand, a coastal state like Kerala that constituted 2.6% of the Union’s population improved its share to 3.9 in 1971 (i.e. by 50%), although it has now fallen to 3.4 in 1991 (total State population figures are give in App.C, Table C-T3). Those ridiculing the absence of family planning in the country’s ‘cow belt’ and ‘excessive’ population increase there in the last two or three decades, should take note of these facts and the implications it contains for Hindu demography.

For the post-Independence period, we give the fertility and othe relevant data in Appendix C, Tables C-T2 for the three countries as well as for several Indian states. It should be understood that the quality of data for Pakistan and Bangladesh is poor, leading to undeestimation of fertility values and hebce UN estimates given below are more reliable. The acronym NFHS in the Appendix as well as below stands for ‘National Family and Health Survey 92-93’ which is conducted periodically by the International Institute of Population Studies, Mumbai.

Table 6.8 : UN Estimates of TFR(1996 Revision)

Period India Pakistan Bangladesh
1950.55 5.97 6.50 6.66
1960-65 5.81 7.00 6.68
1970-75 5.43 7.00 7.02
1980-85 4.47 6.50 6.15
1990-95 3.39 5.51 3.40

The following facts will be clear from these tables and other data on fertility.

1. Muslim fertility has always been higher than Hindu fertility and further, the difference have widened through the eighties due to increased emphasis on family planning. In the sixties, the ratio of Muslim TFR to Hindu TFR in percent (%M/H) was around 115. In the seventies, although the ratio of Muslim CEB to Hindu CEB was close to this figure, yet the Muslim-Hindu TFR ratio as given by the 1981 census has already increased to 123 (and further to 134 in NFHS survey) on an all India basis. The NFHS survey shows that in the eighties, the Muslim-Hindu ratios of both the TFR and CEB have increased substantially.

2. The TFR figures for Indian Muslims for 1990-95 of 4.4 closely corresponds to thr average 4.5 TFR for Pakistan and Bangladesh which is much higher than the average TFR for the Indian Union at 3.3 The corresponding contraceptive usage figures are 28% and 29%. Hence it appears that the population growth of Indian Muslims will tend to be the average of Pakistan and Bangladesh growth figures. In other words, a Mulim family will have on average, one more child than a Hindu, family, even when family planning generally brings down the TFR. (see 3 below)

3. When the rest of India reaches the Kerala figures as aimed by our policy planners, a Hindu woman will have less than two children (1.66 of Kerala) and a Muslim woman, three (2.97 for Kerala). This implies that the Muslim population in India will tend to grow twice as fast as the Hindu population (Table 6.9). Note that this has already happened in Kerala in the 1981-91 decade.

4. Particularly worrying is the increase in TFR over CEB in the NFHS survey as compared to the 81 census and the 84 SRS survey. This clearly implies that the Muslim population growth will be accelerated over the next few decades. Hence the percentage of Mulims in the Indian population is likely to be much higher than the projection made on the basis of historical behaviour. It will not be surprising if the Muslims constitute over 25% of the Indian Union’s population in 2050. The problem will be compounded by unrestricted immigration of Muslims from Bangladesh as well as perhaps from Pakistan.

5. The states also persent in interesting picture (Table C-T2f). It will be seen that there is a difference in the behavious of the population from state to state. The gap has been narrowed to some extent in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. For Tamil Nadu, the NFHS TFR is very similar for both communities as compared to the 1981 census. The TFR for both communities has also come down appreciably. On the other hand, in the other southern states of Kerala and Karnataka, the TFR has come down for both Hindus and Muslims between 1981 and 1991, but the reduction for the Hindus is far more and hence the% M/H ratio has widened substantially. In Kerala the TFR for Muslims is 79% more than Hindus (%M/H=179), a figure exceeded only by West Bengal (82%). Hence the authorities will have to ensure that the Tamil Nadu experience is followed strictly, but this does not seem to be happening.

6. Age distribution of the population plays an important role in the political and social spheres. Greater emphasis on family planning leads to a large percentage of the population being in the old-age bracket. By 2050, the Muslim population in the subcontinent shall be much younger than the Hindu population, leading to even faster relative growth of the Muslim population.

The NFHS Repott (92-93) itself has made the following observations on Muslim fertility.

 Muslims have a considerably higher fertility than any other religious group. On average, Muslim women have 1.1 children more than Hindu women. However, even among Muslims, there has been a considerable decline in fertility over time. The lowest fertility levels (under three children per woman) are exhibited by Christians, Sikh, and women from other religious (pri marily Buddhists and Jains). .... Within each education groups, the Muslim TFR is 23-28% higher than the Hindu TFR. The differential is even larger (43%) for the relatively small number of women in the highest education group. [emphasis ours.]. The differential between Hindu and Muslim fertility overall is 34%.... but religion is still strongly related to fertility even within education groups. (Pages 97-98)

 The prevalence of female sterilisation does not differ much among most religious groups, except for the fact that it is very low among Muslims ... the proportion of women and men who have been sterilized is twice as high for Hindus as for Muslims. (Page 138)

 The contraceptive prevalence rate is lowest amongst Muslims and highest amongst Sikhs for each educational category of women...The analysis suggests that educational differentials among different religious groups partly explains the religious differneces in contraceptive use; however, the religious differentials persist even after controlling for education. [emphasis ours Page 149)

Kerala today is a multi-religous state with a large presence of all major religions. The level of literacy is almost cent percent in all communities, particularly the younger generation. Family planning messages communicated by various means has reached every strata and section of the society. Hence it will be instructive to study how the family planning measures have affected various communities and the resultant demographic trends. This is especially important since the Indian population as a whole is expected to behave in an indentical manner in the years to come.

It will be instructive to compare the vaious indices for the country and the state shown in the Table below

Table 6.9 : Comparison of India and Kerala Fertility

India Kerala
%Decadal Growth
1951-61 20.95 24.55 117 23.21 27.49 118
1961-71 23.87 30.85 129 23.34 37.48 161
1971-81 24.13 30.83 128 16.69 29.95 179
1981-91 22.77 32.60 143 12.64 25.47 202
1971 Census
TMFR (Rural) 5.4 6.2 115 5.9 6.4 108
1981 Census
TFR (cor) 4.8 5.9 123 3.0 5.1 170
NFHS 92-93
TFR 3.30 4.41 134 1.66 2.97 179
CEB 4.78 5.83 122 3.19 5.33 167
% TCU 41.6 27.7 67 72.5 37.8 52
% Total Sterilisation 32.7 16.0 49 57.2 27.6 48

The Table shows that a good correlation exists between TFR and acceptance of contraception as well as between TFR and population growth. Of course TFR is only one factor responsible for growth, the others being general mortality and age distribution. Unfortunately, there has been no religious cross-tabulation of the pertient data for these categories, and hence we have to depend on TFR alone. TFR values which indicate current fertility, although constantly changing, can be broadly interpreted in terms of population growth for the previous decade. CEB and TMFR values brodly represent historical fertility.

For 1971, only TMFR values for rural and urban regions are available and may indicate historical fertility rates. The Muslims value is 10-20% more than Hindu value (%M/H) for both India and Kerala and correlates well with the 1951-61 relative population growth rate (% M/H) for both India and Kerala.

With increasing family planning efforts from the sixties, the picture has changed significantly in subsequent decades. For the 1961-71 and 1971-81 decades for the country, % M/H has gone up slightly but is similar (has compulsory sterilisations without dicrimination in certain states during Emergency anything to do in this regard?), reflecting higher relative growth rates for Muslims. In Kerala however, perhaps due to increased family planning amongst Hindus, the %M/H ratio has increased significantly in this period.

For the 1981-91 decade, the NFHS-1992 %M/H ratio for TFR values has increased to 134 for India and 179 for Kerala. When we review the extent of family planning in these communities we find that %M/H ratio for Total Contraception Usage (TCU) is far lower in Kerala than India signifying that the gap between the two religions has widened in spite of greater contraceptive usage amongst both. The ratio for% Total sterilisation (i.e. the percentage of population which has undergone sterilisation, both male and female, ensuring complete elimination of future births to the couple) is even more unfavourable to the Hindus both in India as well as Kerala (since sterlisation under Indian conditions gives a very good indication of the effectiveness of family planning measures.) It will also be noted that% M/H values for 1992 in every respect, are higher than the 1971 and 1981 values for both India as well as Kerala. In fact these values have progressively increased particularly for Kerala.

No wonder that although there is a reduction in the decadal increase of population in absolute terms for Kerala from 1961 onwards, the decadal Muslim increase is much greater than Hindu increase, as reflected in the%M/H ratios for decadal population increases (202 for 1981-91 decade.) Since literacy for the state is quite high at 90%, it can be safely assumed that it is similar for all major communities, particularly for the younger generation. With the Gulf incomes, the relative prosperity of the Muslim community should be as good as others. Hence we cannot take recourse to the standard explanation for this large difference. Appendix C, Table C-T4 and Table 6.10 will indicate that the growth rate of Muslims in Kerala, is the highest among Indian states. This may be contrasted with the other minority community in Kerala, which has enthusiastically adopted family planning measures.

Even the NFHS Report for Kerala has mildly commented as follows :

 P.xxiii: Fertility of Muslims has declined to three children per woman, but still remains higher than the fertility of those of other religions

 P.xxiv : Knowledge of family planning is universal in Kerala

 Pxxv: Approval of family planning is relatively low among Muslims

 P.9 : Under the auspices of the India Population Project (IPP) initiated in 1984, four backward (in terms of family planning achievements) Districts: namely Wayanad, Malappuram, Idukki and Palakkad were provided with enhanced infrastructure, service inputs and IEC network. During the project period (1984-90), there was a significant decline in the birth rates of Wayanad and Idukki Districts and a moderate decline in the other two Districts.

 P. 57 : Differences by religion are the largest and have narrowed the least. Muslims have the highest current and cohorl fertility of any group in the table. Current Muslim fertility, however, is higher than that of Hindus and Christians by more than one child, but cohort fertility of Muslims is higher than Hindus or Christians by two children.

 P.65 : The average number of children ever born is higher for Muslims

 P. 69 : The median age at first birth for Muslims is three years lower than for Hindus and nearly five years lower than for Christians

 The P. 84: The prevalence rate (of contraception) is the lowest among the Muslims

 P. 109 : Hindus and Christians are more likely to want to stop childbearing than Muslims

 P. 117 : The ideal family size for Muslims is one child higher than that for Hindus and Christians

 P. 187 : Muslim-headed households are more than twice as likely to have a current migrant (43%) as Christian (21%) and Hindu-headed households (14%)

It should be noted that as the fertility levels between two communities widen, another important factor, namely ‘Age Distribution’ comes into play. Unfortunately we do not have community wise data for this factor. But it is obvious that for a community having a high fertility, the percentage of child bearing couples as compared to its total population increases with time. Hence it is possible that a combination of high TFR and a larger number of child bearing couples (see Kingsley Davis’s comments given earlier) will progressively increase the relative growth even faster. For Kerala this is very clear when we study the decadal increases in the above Table.

Having studied the population picture at the subcontinent level and also looked intocertain demographic factors responsible for it we shall now study the position in various regions of our country.


The growth of the Muslim (and Christian) population is not uniform and constant all over the country but is concentrated in certain regions. The Center For Policy Studes4 has studied from the census records, how their percentages have varied from 1901 onwards with respect to states and from 1931 for the districts (about 300 districts having more than 5% Muslims in 1991.)

Table 6.10 : Summary of Muslim High Growth States and Regions

State Region 1961-91 1981-91
India 1.90 0.83
Assam 3.13
North Assam 4.03
chachar 3.88
Bihar Purnea 4.80 2.22
Santhal Pargana 4.48 1.80
Goa 3.36 1.15
Haryana Gurgaon/Faridabad 3.29 0.53
Karnataka Coastal 4.50 1.53
Kerala 5.42 2.08
North Kerala 6.82 2.81
Mahaashtra Mumbai/Thane 3.38 1.17
Rajasthan North East 2.56 1.04
Uttar Pradesh 2.70 1.40
North West 4.24 2.52
North East 4.76 1.59
West Bengal 3.61 2.10
Central 5.02 2.48
Greater Calcutta 5.53 2.16
Delhi 3.62 1.70
North Assam consists of the 1971 districts of Goalpara, Kamrup, Darrang and Nagaon
Coastal Karnataka consists of Uttar and Dakshin Kannada
North Kerala consists of 1971 districts of Kannur, Kozhikode and Malappuram
North East Rajasthan consists of the 1971 districts of Churu, Jhunjunu, Alwar, Jaipur, Sikar, Nagaur and Ajmer
North West Uttar Pradesh consists of 1971 districts of Bijnor, Muradabad, Muradabad, Sahranpur, Rampur Muzzafarnagar, Meeru, Bulandshahar, Aligarh, Budaun, Bareilly and Pilbhit
North East Uttar Pradesh consists of 1971 districts of Bahraich, Gonda, Basti, Barabanki and Deoria
Greater Calcutta consists of districts of Haora and Calcutta
Central Bengal consists of districts of Maldah, Murshidabad, Birbhum and Bardhaman

Appendix C, Table C-T3, gives the population of each state (as it existed in 1991) from 1901 onwards as well as percentage of Muslims and Christians. It will be noted that some data for pre Independence period is not available and available and some have been derived indirectly.

Certain states and districts were seen to have a higher growth of Muslim population than the Indian average. These have been listed in Appendix C, Table C-T4. The position is summarised in Table 6.10 in which we have listed regions in which the percent growth or increase of the Muslim population is either over 3% in the 1961-91 period or over 1% in the 1981-91 decade. Columns under ‘% Increase’ show the percentage by which the Muslim population has increased during the relevant period. Thus if they constituted 5% of the total population in 1951, and 8% in 1991, the 1951-91 increase will be 3% they constituted 5% of the total population in 1951, and 8% in 1991, the 1951-91 increase will be 3%

We have used the state and district data in Table C-T4 to draw the enclosed Map 6.1. In this map we have shown three types of High Muslim Growth Areas.

1. States where this growt for the period 1951-91 is larger than the all India Growth Rate for this period (marked with red boundaries)

2. Districts with a Muslim population larger than 5% and with the growth rate for the period 1951-91 (or 1961-91) larger than both the all India and the respective state growth rates for the same period (marked blue)

3. New Districts with a Muslim population larger than 5% and with the growth rate for the period 1981-91 (but not 1951-91 or 1961-91) larger than both the all India and the respective state growth rates for the same period (marked Yellow)

The Map as well as both Tables indicate that there are broadly three regions with accelerated growth.

1. A wide belt extending from Pakistan to Bangladesh and beyond and also bordering Nepal. It covers the states of Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and West Bengal

2. Non-contiguous regions in Central India comprising of Mumbai/Thane districts, Central and Northern Maharashtra, along with a few neighbouring districts in Andhra and Karnataka

3. Western coast southwards from Goa extending to coastal and central Karnataka and Kerala.

Additional data for these regions as well as explanatory notes are given in some detail in the Note, ‘Note on States with High Muslim Growth’ in Appendix C. The Note also covers influx from Bangladesh which is causing a serious problem in the Eastern states.

Having studied various aspects ofthis problem we should now think of urgent steps to be taken to redress the situation. Firstly it should be made clear to all concerned that this has been a Hindu subcontinent from times immemorial and Hindus have a right as well as a dharmic duty to ensure that it shall always remain so. Large parts of it are now independent nation-states practicing alien and aggressive religions. It is the responsibility of the Hindu leadership to create a strong Hindu bulwark in what is today the Indian Union so that further fragmentation on the basis of religion is avoided and the Hindu decline in India itself is reversed. Family plnning measures should be made applicable to all communities equally. Apart from a massive shuddhu movement to bring back those who have strayed from the path of our dharma other steps will also have to be initiated.

Hindus will have to be organised and educated about the threats that they face so that they can understand and participate in all the necessary steps taken. The influx from Bangladesh and Pakistan has to be totally stopped and the illegal immigrants who have already entered have to be sent back. The Hindus in these countries will also have to be strengthened. It should be ensured that in no region particularly the border areas, the minority religions exceed a critical mass and necessary rehabilitation will have to be done for solving this problem. All assistance should be extended by patriots in eradicating the terriorist menace. Since time at our disposal is quite limited, a national emergency action plan needs to be worked out and effectively implemented so that the treat of Hindus becoming a minority in India or in any particular region is avoided in a decade or two.

1. The Population of India and Pakistan, Kingsley Davis, Princeton, 1951
2. The Widening Divide, R. Zakaria, P. 146; he has quoted a report of a High Powered Panel for Minorities, appointed by the Government of India in 1984 with Dr. Gopal Singh as the Chairman.
3. Center For Policy Studies, Chennai, Private communications

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