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May 29, 2011

Page: 6/37

Home > 2011 Issues > May 29, 2011

Special Focus
Census 2011: Trends from the Provisional Data
Muslim growth far above the average, slight improvement in gender ratio, Hindu decline

By Dr J K Bajaj

THE census of India has released provisional population data for almost all the districts of the country. In addition to the total population of the districts, the census has provided breakup of the population into males and females, the proportion of population in the 0-6 age group, and some literacy data. This information allows calculation of provisional growth rates of population, of gender ratios and of literacy rates up to the district level. Much has been said about the trends in these three parameters.

Growth Rates, Gender Ratios and Literacy

Decadal growth of population in India has declined to 17.64 per cent compared to 21.54 per cent during the previous decade. More importantly, some of the northern states, where the growth rates had remained persistently high, have shown remarkable decline in growth. Thus Haryana and Rajasthan, which had both grown by 28.4 per cent during 1991-2001, have recorded growth of only 19.9 and 21.4 per cent, respectively, during the current decade. The sharp decline of growth in several populous and high growth states of the north has contributed to the considerable decline in the growth rate of the total population of India. Remarkably, however, Tamil Nadu, where the growth rates were sharply declining, has recorded a considerable rise in decadal growth from 11.7 during 1991-2001 to 15.6 per cent during 2001-2011. The only other large State that has recorded a higher growth than the previous decade is Chhattisgarh; decadal growth there has gone up from 18.3 per cent to 22.6 per cent. This is probably a consequence of the new urban and industrial development activities being undertaken in that State.

There is only a slight improvement in the gender ratio of the Indian population, from 933 in 2001 to 940 in 2011. Gender ratio among children in the 0-6 years age group, which is probably more significant, has however shown a further decline from 927 to 914 female per 1,000 males.

Literacy rate has improved from 64.83 to 74.04 per cent. But this indicates only bare literacy. The more significant data in this respect is about the levels of attainment in literacy, which tells us about the proportion that have passed primary school level and above. Our record in improving the percentage of population that has passed senior secondary level, for example, has not been very good. We have to await more detailed data to know whether more of the young of India have been able to complete schooling.

Urban-Rural Divide

The census has not yet provided urban-rural breakup of population. However, the data that has been released shows a very significant trend of decline in the growth of population in all metropolitan districts. Thus, Delhi has grown by a mere 20.96 per cent during 2001-2011 compared to 47.02 per cent during the previous decade; the New Delhi and Central Delhi districts have recoded large negative growth of minus 25.35 per cent and minus 10.48 percent respectively. Mumbai and Kolkata have also shown negative growth of minus 5.75 per cent and minus 1.88 per cent, respectively. Hyderabad has grown by only 4.71 compared to 21.74 per cent in the previous decade. Chennai has recorded a growth of 7.77 per cent compared to 13.07 per cent during the previous decade and the State average of 15.7 per cent. Among the major metropolises only Bengaluru has shown a higher growth rate of 46.68 per cent compared to 35.09 per cent of the previous decade.

It seems that the larger metropolises are now going out of the reach of the ordinary people; much of the growth is probably happening in the districts adjoining these. There has also been much slum clearance activity during the decade, with large numbers being pushed out of the metropolises. The census report for Delhi has in fact recorded that “a major reason for the fall in growth rate is the wide-ranging removal of slum (jhuggi-jhonpari) clusters from various parts of the city since 2001”.

The impact this decline of growth rate of major metropolises may have on the growth of urbanization would be seen only when the detailed breakup of population by urban or rural residence becomes available. But it is already clear that notwithstanding all the talk of inclusive growth that we have heard during the last several years, the larger and well-provided metropolises have become entirely inhospitable for the ordinary people.

Religious Demographic Changes

The census has so far released no data on the religious composition of the population. But, some significant trends can be clearly seen in the district wise provisional population data that has been made available. The regions and districts that have a high Muslim presence seem to show a much higher rate of growth than the neighbouring regions and districts. Below, we give some of the most striking examples of this.

Outside Jammu and Kashmir, there are 3 districts in the country that were predominantly Muslim in 2001. One of these is Mewat in Haryana, the other Malappuram in Kerala, and the third Dhubri in Assam. Decadal growth during 2001-2011 in all three of these has been far above the average of their respective states. Mewat has grown by 37.9 per cent against the average of 19.9 per cent for Haryana; Malappuram has grown by 13.4 per cent as against the average of 4.9 per cent for Kerala; and, Dhubri has grown by 24.4 per cent as against the average of 16.9 per cent for Assam. It is instructive to look at these three districts in some further detail.

Mewat is a new district of Haryana. It was formed after the 2001 census, and comprises of the four tahsils of Nuh, Ferozepur Jhirka, Punhana and Taoru. Proportion of Muslims in the first three of these in 2001 was 71, 83 and 85 per cent, respectively. Taoru, which lies on the northern end nearer Gurgaon, has a relatively lower Muslim presence of 49 per cent. The district as a whole was thus 75 per cent Muslim. There is no other district of Haryana which comes anywhere near Mewat in terms of the proportion of Muslims in its population. The district is dominated by Meo Muslims who are one of the earliest converts to Islam; they are said to have been converted at the time of Ferozeshah Tughlak.

The decadal growth of the population of Mewat at 37.9 per cent is nearly double that of the average of Haryana. Only Gurgaon has grown at a higher rate of 73.9 per cent; but that is because of its development as a major urban centre of the NCR region. Faridabad, for the same reason, has shown somewhat high rate of growth of 31.7 per cent. All other districts of Haryana have grown at a much lower rate.

Mewat district also has the highest proportion of children in the age group of 0-6 years in its population. There are 22.3 children of this age group for every 100 persons in the district. The figure for the State is much lower at 13.0 per cent. This ratio is around or less than 13 per cent for all other districts of Haryana, except Palwal. The latter includes Hathin, which is an extension of the Meo Muslim region, and was at one stage included in Mewat district. The proportion of children in the population of Palwal is the second highest in the State at 16.5 per cent.

Malappuram of Kerala had Muslim presence of nearly 69 per cent in its population in 2001. Though the northern districts of Kerala in general have higher presence of Muslims than the southern districts, yet no other district of Kerala compares with Malappuram in this respect. The districts with next highest presence of Muslims in 2001 were Kozhikode and Kasargode, where they formed 37.5 and 34.3 per cent of the population respectively.

The decadal growth of Malappuram at 13.39 per cent is nearly thrice the average of the state at 4.86 per cent. The district has shown a similar trend during every decade since its creation in the 1960s. During 1971-81, the district grew by 29.43 per cent against the State average of 19.24 per cent; during 1981-91, it grew by 28.87 per cent against the State average of 14.32 per cent; and, during 1991-2001, it grew by 17.09 per cent against the State average of 9.43 per cent. Thus, while the growth rate of the district has indeed been declining, the disparity between the growth of the district and that of the State has only been widening. Incidentally, the southern districts with low Muslim presence have in general recorded very low growth during the current census. Idukki and Pathanamthitta have in fact recorded a decline in the population of 1.93 and 3.12 per cent.

Dhubri of Assam had a Muslim presence of 74.3 per cent in 2001. The district has been since reorganised. In the process of creating the new Bodo districts some of the northern parts of Dhubri with relatively lower Muslim presence have been added to Kokrajhar. The district therefore is likely to have a much higher Muslim presence than 74 per cent recorded in 2001.

During 2001-2011, this predominantly Muslim district has recorded the highest growth among all districts in the State. Population of Dhubri has grown by 24.40 per cent against the state average of 16.93 per cent. The census has published a map of Assam showing growth rate of population in different districts. The Muslim majority districts of lower Assam and Cachar in the map clearly show much higher growth rates than the new Bodo districts and districts like Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Jorhat and Sibasagar of upper Assam. Four of such districts, including Kokrajhar and Udalgiri in the Bodo areas and Jorhat and Sibasagar in upper Assam have recorded growth of less than 10 per cent. The 2001 census data for Assam was already showing rather low growth of Hindus in several districts, and even a decline in their population in several tahsils. The trends of the current census seem to indicate an even wider differential between the growth rate of Muslims and others in the State.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the Muslim majority districts of the Valley have shown much higher growth rate than the Hindu majority districts of the Jammu region. Anantnag district has shown the highest rate of growth of 37.48 per cent, while Jammu has grown by only 12.48 per cent. Many districts in the state have been reorganised, more detailed numbers and analysis is required to further quantify the trend.

The trends I have indicated above are based on the limited provisional data released so far. But they already seem to tell a very interesting, and perhaps a very disturbing, story.

The census has promised that most of the data shall be released within a year and a half. This has become possible because of the complete computerisation of census records. Earlier it used to take several years. We should expect to soon get a complete picture of the various aspects of Indian demography, including the changing religious demographic patterns in different parts of India.

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