Approximate Muslim population in India [2001]

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By Syed Shahabuddin


The Registrar General and Census Commission- ner, India, has published the Provisional Population Totals (Paper I of 2001) for Census of India, 2001. While this Paper gives many useful data on various aspects of total population, it does not give the Provisional Religious Totals, State-wise or for the country as a whole. The Religious Tables are likely to be published by the year 2005, if not later.

The figures of national and State-wise Muslim population are very much in demand for various reasons. The primary reason is that the Muslim community is the second largest religious community in the country and forms almost 2/3 of all the religious minorities taken together. Muslim population is almost always in the public arena and both Hindu and Muslim ‘spokesmen’, speaking for their respective communities, while differing on many points, agree on one aspect. They both amplify and exaggerate the Muslim population, the first, to convince their followers about the rising ‘Islamic menace’, a threat to the country and at least to its Hindu character, the second, to raise the morale of a politically deprived, educationally backward, economically poor and socially vilified, frustrated community!


The Provisional Totals, however, gives us figures which can be utilized, in conjunction with the data of the Census of India, 1991, to make an approximation of Muslim population, in the country and State-wise, as on 1 January, 2001, the date of the Census.

Perhaps, it is not widely known that the Muslim population in 13 States, in which it exceeds 1 million, covers nearly 97% of the National Muslim Population. In descending order of absolute figures of Muslim population, they are UP, W. Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra, Kerala, Assam, AP, Karnataka, J&K, Gujarat, Rajasthan, MP and Tamil Nadu. Perhaps Delhi will have to be added to this list in 2001 as its Muslim population is likely to exceed the million mark. The relative position of various States, in terms of Muslim population, may change in 2001, but one does not foresee any change in the relative position of the top three, UP, W. Bengal and Bihar. But there may be a change in the relative position of the bottom four, whose Muslim population was around 3 million in 1991 – Gujarat, Rajasthan, MP and Tamil Nadu.

Out of Paper I of 2001 and the Final Religious Tables of 1991 we have the following data:

1. Total population of India/States in 1991 (exact) and 2001 (Provisional)
2. Rate of Decadal Growth of National and State population during 1991-2001 (provisional)
3. Rate of Growth of Muslim Population in the country and the States during 1981-1991 (exact)
4. Percentage of Muslim population in the country and the States in 1991 (exact)

Taken together, these data present three lines of approach for approximation of Muslim population, in the country and the States, in 2001 (Table-I).
1. On the assumption that the % of Muslim population in the nation and in the State in 2001 is the same as in 1991 (by multiplying column 3 by column 6).
2. On the assumption that the rate of growth of Muslim population during 1991-2001 is the same as during 1981-1991 (by multiplying column 5 by column 7+100).
3. On the assumption that the rate of growth of Muslim population is the same as that of population as a whole, during 1991-2001 (by multiplying column 5 by column 4+100).

Applying the three methodologies, one arrives at 3 figures for each population (country and state-wise) (Table-II). We can then take the average of the three to reach an approximate figure, which I believe, will correspond closely to the final Census figures of 2001, when published.
Let us first take the determinants

Average approximate figures of Muslim population] 2-3% higher than the rate of growth of the country, or of the Hindu community, though not so in all States, for various educational, social and cultural reasons, both positive and negative.

These figures may serve, till the Census 2001 figures are published, as the basis of planning social, educational and economic development for the community, by the community itself or by the State. The State authorities, if they are interested in curbing their higher rate of growth, must allocate higher resources for the development of the community because development has proved to be the most effective factor for population control


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