National Convention on Census 2001: Emerging Challenges
Posted April 23, 2005
Data on the religious profile of Indian population as observed in Census 2001 raises several issues of great national concern. During 1991-2001, unusually large changes have taken place in the religious demography of India. The changes are especially drastic in the areas lying to the east of the Purnia region of Bihar. Indian Religionists have now turned into a minority in a wide belt comprising of Purnia region of Bihar, parts of Santhal Pargana region of Jharkhand, northern districts of West Bengal, and most of lower Assam and Cachar. Muslims now constitute 46 percent of the population of this belt that passes through the exclusively Muslim territory of Bangladesh. The region further east of this belt, comprising of the northeastern states excluding Assam, now has 46 percent Christians in its population; Indian Religionists form a minority in these states also.
This phenomenon of Indian Religionists being turned into a minority in the whole of eastern India, starting from Purnia region of Bihar to the easternmost tip of Arunachal Pradesh, is the culmination of a process that had started in the earlier half of the twentieth century, but which seems to have gained renewed momentum during the last two decades.
Indian Religionists are under great pressure in the other border regions of India also. In Kashmir valley in the north they have a miniscule presence now; and in the western coastal strip starting from Kanniyakumari of Tamilnadu and running up to Goa, Indian Religionists are in a minority in several districts, and are rapidly losing in their share of the population to either the Christians or Muslims. The coastal belt of southern Karnataka seems to be rapidly joining with the northern districts of Karnataka, Hyderabad region of Andhra Pradesh and Marathawada of Maharashtra to form a large belt of high Muslim presence and growth that runs all the way from northern Kerala to central India.
Census data of the last two decades, and especially of 1991-2001, indicate that the changes are not confined to the border regions alone; proportion of Christians and Muslims is rising almost everywhere.
When we look at the Indian region as a whole, including Indian Union, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the change in the religious profile seems even more drastic. The trends of the last about 120 years indicate that Indian Religionists in the Indian region are almost certainly going to be reduced to a minority in the latter half of the twenty-first century.
Such sharp changes in the religious profile of a nation have varied socio-economic and strategic implications. It is in our national interest to honestly and seriously discuss the data on changing religious profile of India, its multidimensional implications, and to explore ways of modulating and controlling this process, which has the potential of tearing apart this ancient nation.
"National Convention on Census 2001: The Emerging Challenges" has been called with this purpose in mind. It is expected that about 200 concerned citizens, scholars and activists representing different states of India shall attend the Convention; and, several well-known observers and analysts of the changing religious demographic trends shall discuss different aspects of the issue.
Dates: April 26-27, 2005; Tuesday and Wednesday.
Venue: V. K. Krishna Menon Hall, Bhagwan Das Road, Opp. Supreme
Court Complex, New Delhi – 110 001
April 26, 2005, Tuesday
Session I: Demographic Imbalance in India
11.30 a.m.-1.00 p.m.
Session 2: Socio-cultural and Economic Impact of Demographic
02.00 p.m.-3.30 p.m.
Session 3: Demographic Imbalance and National Security
04.00 p.m.-5.30 p.m.
Session 4: Panel Discussion on Changing Religious Demography of India
April 27, 2005
Session 5: Global Trends in Religious Demography
9.30 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.
Session 6: Sharing of Experiences and Possible Solutions concerning
11.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.
Session 7: Facing the Challenges/ Steps towards a Solution
02.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m.
04.30 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.