According to the Pew Research Center’s newest study, “Religious Composition of India,” there is presently no population boom in India, and fertility is the most important factor in determining India’s religious demography. The research looks at the fertility rates of Hindus, Muslims, and Christians, three main religious groupings.
According to the research, between 1951 and 2015, the Indian population fell dramatically across all faiths. In 1992, Muslim, Hindu, and Christian fertility rates were 4.4, 3.3, and 2.9 percent, respectively. Muslims, Hindus, and Christians now account for 2.6, 2.1, and 2.0 percent of the population, respectively. Over a 65-year period, the gap in fertility rates between Muslims and Hindus shrank from 1.1 to 0.5 percent.
The number of children per woman in India dropped from 3.4 in the early 1990s to 2.2 in 2015, with the rate among Muslims falling even faster from 4.4 to 2.6.
The Pew study examines how India’s religious composition has changed, as well as the main reasons for the changes, using data from the country’s decennial census and the National Family Health Survey (NFHS).
The data is analysed from three perspectives: birth, migration, and conversion since these are the three variables that influence India’s demographics. Migration and conversion, according to the report’s authors, are not significant factors influencing religious demography in India. India is home to more than 99 percent of the world’s population. Migrants outnumber immigrants three to one, and religious minorities are more likely to depart than Hindus.
The effect of education on the fertility rate is emphasised in the study. Women who pursue higher education are more likely to marry and have their first kid later in life. Education often leads to employment and increased access to family planning tools, both of which reduce fertility.
There are several key implications from the research report for policymakers, politicians, and religious leaders in India. First and foremost, the research shows that claims of widespread Hindu conversion to Islam and Christianity are false since conversion has been a minor role in India’s history. As a result, the applicability of certain jurisdictions’ “love jihad” legislation is debatable.
Second, the research revealed that fertility rates are affected by a variety of variables. It is a misleading and unscientific approach to link it only to religion. Women’s empowerment via education, work, and other means is a critical element in determining fertility rates.
Third, the plan to enact legislation limiting the number of children to two and punishing couples who have more than two children is completely unjustified, since India now has no population boom. According to the Pew Research Center’s report, India’s population is approaching replacement level.
Without any solid evidence, certain political and religious leaders have needlessly highlighted the subject of religious conversion via mixed marriages between Muslim men and women of other religions. Mixed marriages would help to unity in variety in a pluralist nation like India. The study will aid political leaders and policymakers in the formulation of population-related initiatives.