• 13 June 2024

Religious Demographics in India: A Comparative Analysis of Growth Rates from 1947 to present

Jan 25, 2024

Let’s take a closer look at how India’s religious landscape has transformed since gaining independence in 1947. In this exploration, we’ll compare the growth rates of different religious communities, examining the numbers from the past to the present day. Join us on a journey to understand the fascinating dynamics that have shaped India’s diverse religious demographics over the years.

Key Statistics

  • Every major religion in India has witnessed a significant increase in numbers from 1951 to 2023.
  • Muslim Population in 2023: The Muslim population in India is estimated to be approximately 19.7 crore in 2023, as per the information provided by Smriti Irani, Union Minister of Minority Affairs in Lok Sabha.
  • Population Share: Muslims accounted for 14.2% of the total population according to Census 2011. The government used this proportion to project the total Muslim population share in 2023.
  • Previous Population Data: Based on Census 2011 data, the Muslim population was recorded at 17.2 crore.
  • Projected Total Population (2023): The country’s projected population in 2023 is expected to be 138.8 crore.
  • Literacy Rate (Muslims, 7 years and above): According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) conducted in 2021-22, the literacy rate among Muslims aged seven years and above was 77.7%.
  • Labor Force Participation Rate: The labor force participation rate for Muslims of all ages stood at 35.1%, based on the PLFS data.
  • Access to Basic Facilities (2020-21):
  • Drinking Water: 94.9% of Muslims reported having an improved source of drinking water.
  • Toilet Access: 97.2% of Muslims reported access to an improved toilet.

Population Growth Over the Decades

  • India’s population has tripled since 1951, reaching over 1.2 billion in 2011.
  • As of 2020, the country adds approximately 1 million inhabitants each month.
  • Projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country by 2030.
Religion-wise population in India-Religious Growth
Pic Credit-Testbook

Religious Diversity and Growth

  • Every major religion in India has witnessed a significant increase in numbers from 1951 to 2011.
  • Hindus increased from 304 million to 966 million, Muslims from 35 million to 172 million, and Christians from 8 million to 28 million.
  • Concerns about potential undercounting of Christians due to caste-related issues.

Caste System and Affirmative Action

  • Overview of India’s caste system and its impact on social hierarchy.
  • Affirmative action programs (“reservations”) for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes.
  • Controversy around the eligibility of Muslims and Christians for caste-based reservations.

Population Control Measures

  • Population growth challenges hindering economic development.
  • Government initiatives since the 1950s, including family planning programs and penalties for large families.
  • A comprehensive family planning program was launched in 2017 intending to achieve replacement fertility levels by 2025.

Religious Composition Trends

  • Muslims and Christians experienced a slower growth rate compared to earlier decades.
  • The share of Muslims increased by 7 percentage points from 2001 to 2011.
  • Christians, with concerns of undercounting, grew at a slower pace in the last census decade.

Geographic Distribution and Stability

  • Stable geographic distribution of religious groups since Partition.
  • Christians concentrated in Southern states, Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir, and Hindus in the majority of states.
  • Sikhs in Punjab, Buddhists, and Jains in Maharashtra, with varying religious landscapes in each region.

Smaller Religious Groups and Future Projections

  • Overview of smaller religious groups, including Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, Jews, and Baha’is.
  • Parsis exhibit a decline due to a high median age and low fertility rate.
  • Projected religious composition by 2050, with Hindus remaining the majority.


India’s demographic landscape continues to evolve, marked by population growth, religious diversity, and socio-political dynamics. Understanding these trends is crucial for policymakers and researchers to address challenges and foster inclusive development. Stay tuned for more insights as we explore India’s complex tapestry of cultures and demographics.

Also, read https://thelogicalpie.com/evolution-of-indian-politics-a-comparative-journey-from-independence-to-contemporary-times/politics/

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