2011 Religious Census: Hindus drop below 80%; Muslims see 0.8% rise

New Delhi: The count of Hindus in India has first time dropped below 80 percent of the total population ever since the independence while Muslims have seen a significant rise in the numbers. There had been reports in media that the erstwhile government deliberately delayed the release of the census data because they were feared that the increase in Muslim population may lead to some tension across other communities in the country.

Few members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rose to power in 2014 general elections, have shown serious tension following the rise in number of Muslims.

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The census data shows that Hindus have gone down to 79.8 percent of the country’s 1.2 billion population in 2011, while they were 80.5 percent in 2001.

Meanwhile, Muslims have seen a significant rise from 13.4 percent in 2001 to 14.2 percent in 2011, becoming the only religious group to observe a rise. Christians maintained their 2.3 percent while Sikhs also fell down to 1.7 percent from 1.9 percent.

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Sakshi Maharaj, a Hindu priest-turned-politician, had stirred a controversy earlier this year when he had advised Hindu women to give birth to four children to ensure that their religion survives.

In the first census, conducted after Britain carved India and Pakistan out of colonial India in 1947, Hindus accounted for 84.1 percent of the Indian population.

Despite all religions are seeing decline in population growth, India is still set to surpass China in terms of most populous country in the world by 2022, says a forecast by United Nations.

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India’s population has seen a one fifth increase during the past two censuses, hampering the supplies of land, food and water and raising the underemployed, poorly skilled workforce.