Demographics of India

Aspect of human geography in India

India is the second most populated country in the world with nearly a fifth of the world's population. According to the 2019 revision of the World Population Prospects population stood at 1,352,642,280.


  • In Asia, a prominent example of immigration-driven ethnic change is taking place in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam. A Hindu-majority tongue of Indian territory lying north of Muslim Bangladesh, Assam has long been host to large-scale illegal, but peaceful, Bengali immigration. Bengali Muslims grew 30 to 50 percent over the period 1971 to 1991. They now constitute more than 30 percent of Assam’s population and are believed to control the electoral verdict in 60 of Assam’s 126 Assembly constituencies. Numerous battles have taken place over whether large numbers of Muslims have the legal status necessary to add their name to the electoral rolls.
    Muslim growth has been the catalyst for ugly Assamese attacks against unarmed Bengali workers since the 1980s, and an Assamese political movement demands the deportation of illegal immigrants. This conflict is regional, but on the wider Indian level, the growth of the Muslim population through higher fertility and an often exaggerated degree of illegal immigration has been a red flag for Hindu nationalism. The Muslim population’s fertility advantage over Hindus was 10 percent at partition in 1947, but is now 25–35 percent. Only a fraction of this gap can be explained by relative Muslim poverty. Muslims grew from roughly 8 percent of the Indian total in 1947 to 14 percent today, and are projected to rise to 17 percent by 2050. These are not staggering numbers, yet have proven useful tinder for Hindu nationalists and sparked sporadic violent reprisals against Indian Muslims.
    • Kaufmann, E. P. (2011). Shall the religious inherit the Earth?: Demography and politics in the twenty-first century. Chapter 2: Section: Ethnic change and violence
  • At first glance, Muslims seem more resistant to family planning than others. Research on Muslim fertility in India, for instance, concludes that Indian Muslims have been more reluctant to adopt contraception and family planning than Hindus or Christians, despite equal access. Muslims tend to have an especially large fertility advantage when they are in the minority. In Europe, India, Thailand, Russia, China and the Philippines, the Muslim fertility advantage is greatest. This is particularly true of zones of conflict like Israel–Palestine. One could argue that minorities in general, not merely Muslim ones, tend to have higher fertility rates than majorities. Yet in Muslim-majority Indonesia and Malaysia, Muslims outbirth most Hindu, Christian and Chinese minorities, while in the Arab world, Muslim fertility is higher than that of the minority Christians and Druze.
    • Kaufmann, E. P. (2011). Shall the religious inherit the Earth?: Demography and politics in the twenty-first century. . Chapter 4, Section: The countryside comes to town
  • Of the whole population of Hindustan... five parts in six are composed of Hindus...
    • Jahangir, Tarikh-i-Salim Shahi quoted in Lal, K. S. (2002). Return to roots: Emancipation of Indian Muslims. New Delhi: Radha.(82)
  • Some commentators have drawn attention to the divergent courses of the fertility rates in the two parts of Bengal. In Indian West Bengal, which is three quarters Hindu, the fertility rate is 2.07, below the re- placement level. The contrast with Muslim Bangladesh, where the transition has been blocked, is striking. A shared language should have led to a convergence through cultural contagion, but a pietistic Islam seems to have frozen changes in patterns of thought in Bangladesh and, as a repercussion, provoked a halt to the transition. But a consideration of educational patterns leads to a rejection of the hypothesis of a direct effect of the religious variable on fertility.
    • Youssef Courbage, Emmanuel Todd - A Convergence of Civilizations The Transformation of Muslim Societies Around the World -Columbia University Press (2011). (English Translation).
  • The Pakistani fertility rate is slowly declining: In 1988 it was at 5.56 children, and since then it has lost only 0.9 percent annually. With 4.6 children in 2005, 6 the Pakistani fertility rate, the highest in this group, is far above that of the Arab world, except for Yemen. One cannot fail to be impressed by the alignment of the fertility of the Muslims of northern India with that of Pakistan: In 1998 –1999, it was 4.8 in Uttar Pradesh, 4.9 in Rajasthan, and 4 in Bihar. One might suggest a slight boost from the combined effect of minority status and the fact that Muslims in these states belong to the least privileged strata in social and educational terms. The minority effect must play the leading role, because elsewhere in India, in states where Muslims enjoy higher than average educational status, in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, they also have a higher fertility rate than their Hindu neighbors.
    • Youssef Courbage, Emmanuel Todd - A Convergence of Civilizations_ The Transformation of Muslim Societies Around the World -Columbia University Press (2011). (English Translation).
  • According to Courbage and Todd, “the Muslim population of the Indian subcontinent would reach 820 million by 2050 against 1200 million non-Muslims. Equal numbers with and even bypassing of the non-Muslim would be possible by century’s end.”
    • Youssef Courbage and historian-anthropologist Emmanuel Todd, Le Rendez-Vous des Civilisations (Le Seuil, Paris), From the French Original.
  • Ever since 1951, "the propor­tion of Mus­lims has been gradually but steadily increa­sing every decade by roughly one percentage point"­.
    • Ashish Bose: "1991 Census data: Muslim rate of growth", Indian Expr­ess, 9-9-1995.
  • Although there were mass conversions, the country was too vast, the invaders too few, and the volume of immigration too small to change the social complex… India, therefore, never became a Muslim nation, but remained simply a Hindu country in which Muslims were numerous.
    • Kingsley Davis, quoted from K.S. Lal, Indian Muslims, who are they (2012)
  • In six decades (1881-1941)… at no census have the Muslims failed to improve their percentage and the Hindus failed to lose…” [It is due not only to the] “proportion of Muslim women married, but those who are married also have a higher fertility.”
    • Kingsley Davis, quoted from K.S. Lal, Indian Muslims, who are they (2012)
  • Of­ficial census data show that the Hindu per­centage has decli­ned, and the Muslim percentage increas­ed, in every single successive census in British India, free India, Pakistan and Bangl­adesh... Ever since regular census operations were started, the per­centage of Muslims has grown every decade in British India, in­dependent India, Pakis­tan and Banglade­sh... The Muslim percentage has not only incre­ased, but the rate of increase itself has increased... The one general prediction to which the data cer­tainly compel us, is that the Muslim percentage will be increas­ing at an ac­celerating rate for at least another generation; and also beyond that, unless the present generation of young adult Muslims brings it procreati­on rate down to the average Indian level...So, every decade the Muslim per­cent­age in the Subcon­tinent incre­ases by more than 1%, with the rate of incre­ase itself incr­eas­ing. In India, the rate of incre­ase in the Muslim per­centage is considerable, though lower than the subcontinental total, but is rising faster due to the differential in the use of birth control and the incre­asing Muslim immigration... And why stop our conclusion with finding the Hindu position right? The data just surveyed also teach us something about the secularists who have ridiculed and thoroughly blackened the said Hindu position: they are wrong. We have not used any esoteric figures inaccessible to the common man; all these data were at the disposal of the secularists. Yet, some of them insist that the Muslim percentage will remain constant, or that the Muslim incre­ase is proportionate to relative Muslim poverty. The fact deserves to be noted: a whole class of leading intellec­tuals brutal­ly denies easily verifiable facts, i.c. the accelerating increase of the Muslim and the decrease of the Hindu per­centage...
    • Elst, Koenraad. (1997) The Demographic Siege. Also quoted in Lal, K. S. (2002). Return to roots: Emancipation of Indian Muslims. New Delhi: Radha.(81)
  • The population of India in the present day is over three hundred millions, and every sixth man is a Muslim.
    • Stanely Lanepoole. Medieval India 1903, quoted from K.S. Lal, Indian Muslims, who are they (2012)
  • Immigration from Bangladesh is of two types. Firstly there are members of the minority communities fleeing occasional waves of per­secution or the more general sense of being second-class citiz­ens under the Islamic dispensation. Few Hindus would disput­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­e their right to settle down in India. Secondly, there are Mus­lims seek­ing econom­­ic oppor­tunities or sheer living space, which dirt-poor and inten­sely overc­rowded Banglad­esh cannot offer to the ever-larger num­bers of newcomers on the hous­ing and labour market... The BJP argues that refugees from persecution and illegal economic migrants merit a different treat­ment, as is assumed in the arrangements for refugee relief of most countries. But sec­ularists see it differently, for "unlike the BJP, the Congre­ss (I) views both Hindus and Muslim from Bangladesh as in­filtrat­ors". Terminology is a part of the problem here, with secularists systematically describing Hindu refugees as "migrants" if not "infiltrators", and Muslim illegal immigrants as "refugees"... The Hindu population in East Bengal had declined from 33% in 1901 to 28% in 1941. It fell to 22% by 1951 due to the Partition and the post-Partition exodus, and to 18.5% in 1961. By 1971, it had fallen to 13.5%, partly due to the 1971 massacre by the Pakistani Army, partly due to intermittent waves of emigrati­on. The 1981 figure was 12.1%. In 1989 and 1990, due to "large-scale destru­ction, desecration and damage inflic­ted on Hindu temples and religious institutions", "clandestine migrat­ion­­­ by the Hindus to India went up".
    • Shourie: Secular Agenda, p.272,D.P. Roy, joint secreatry of the All-India Congress Committe. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad. (1997) The Demographic Siege, quoting A. Shourie.
  • Therefore, wherever Muslims made successful inroads, they reduced the Hindu population directly by slaughtering the men in large numbers and taking away the women and children as captives. It indirectly reduced the Hindu populace by rendering the remnant Hindu men unprocreative by depriving them of childbearing female partners. Since those women became the vehicle for breeding Muslim offspring instead, the final result was a reduction of the Hindu populace and a sharp rise in the number of Muslims. The growing Muslim population was to be maintained by the toiling of the vanquished Hindus, subjected to grinding taxes. This is roughly the same protocol, which Prophet Muhammad had applied to the Jews of Banu Qurayza and Khaybar.
    • M.A. Khan, Islamic Jihad, 2008, p.102, quoted in Benkin, Richard L. (2014). A quiet case of ethnic cleansing: The murder of Bangladesh's Hindus. p.101.
  • Even under Mohammedan rule, India remained largely a pagan land.
    • W. Muir, The Caliphate quoted in Misra, R. G. (2005). Indian resistance to early Muslim invaders up to 1206 A.D. p.138

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