Published On: Wed, Apr 27th, 2016

Fast Changing Religious Demography of Kerala

KERALA, INDIA, APRIL 27, 2016 (by J. K Bajaj, CPS, India): Like Assam, West Bengal, Purnia and Santhal Pargana region of Bihar and Jharkhand, parts of Western Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Mewat of Haryana and Rajasthan, and many of the States in the northeast–has seen a drastic change in its religious demography in the Census period, beginning from 1901. The share of Indian Religionists in Kerala, who are almost all Hindus, has declined from nearly 69 percent in 1901 to 55 percent in 2011, marking a loss of 14 percentage points in 11 decades. Unlike in the other regions mentioned above, in Kerala, both Christians and Muslims have considerable presence and both have gained in their share in this period. Of the loss of 14 percentage points suffered by the Indian Religionists, 9.6 percentage points have accrued to the Muslims and 4.3 to the Christians. Christians had in fact gained 7 percentage points between 1901 and 1961; after that they have lost about 3 percentage points, with the rapid rise in the share of Muslims in the recent decades.

This large rise in share of Muslims has taken place even though they are not behind others in literacy, urbanisation or even prosperity. Kerala, thus, proves that imbalance in growth of different communities does not disappear with rising literacy and lowering growth rates, as is fondly believed by many. During 2001-11, Muslims in Kerala have grown by 12.8 percent, while Hindus have grown by 2.2 and Christians by 1.4 percent. Such is the yawning and persistent gap between the Muslims and others. Christians and Muslims are concentrated in South and North Kerala, respectively. The share of Muslims has grown in both parts and Indian Religionists have lost in both. However, the decline of the latter has been more pronounced in North Kerala, where their share has fallen from 69.1 percent in 1901 to 50.7 percent in 2011. Of this loss of more than 18 percentage points, 14 have been lost after 1951. Since 1951, Muslims have gained by 12 percentage points, and Christians by more than 2 percentage points.

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