Can Muslims surpass Hindus in population numbers? Experts say practically not possible

According to the 2011 census, Hindus are 79.80 per cent at 96.62 crore (966.2 million), Muslims are 14.23 per cent at 17.22 crore (172.2 million)
Last Updated : 25 April 2022, 03:01 IST
Last Updated : 25 April 2022, 03:01 IST

Follow Us :


The Akhil Bhartiya Sant Parishad's Himachal Pradesh in-charge Yati Satyadevanand Saraswati has urged Hindus to give birth to more children to avoid India becoming an Islamic country.

The claim by the state chief of the organisation, headed by controversial priest Yati Narsinghanand who is out on bail in a hate speech case, is not backed by any mathematical model, say demographers and other experts, junking the idea that Muslims can surpass Hindus in India in terms of population numbers.

Saraswati told PTI that India is a democratic country as Hindus are in a majority. But Muslims are increasing their population by giving birth to many children in a planned way, he claimed last week, on day one of the organisation's three-day 'Dharam Sansad' at Mubarakpur in Himachal Pradesh's Una district.

"That is why, our organisation has asked Hindus to give birth to more children to avoid India becoming an Islamic nation," said Saraswati.

Experts that PTI reached out to dismissed the claim, which was widely reported in national media.

According to the 2011 census, Hindus are 79.80 per cent at 96.62 crore (966.2 million), Muslims are 14.23 per cent at 17.22 crore (172.2 million), Christians are 2.30 per cent at 2.78 crore (27.8 million) and Sikhs are 1.72 per cent at 2.08 crore (20.8 million).

Devendra Kothari, former chairperson of the national committee to review the family welfare programme, cited scientific analysis to say that the rate of Muslim population growth will go down in the next census.

"In the next census, Hindu population would show a slight increase in the share of population to increase to about 80.3 per cent in comparison to 79.80 per cent in 2011 census. The Muslim population share would either stabilise or go down," the population and development expert told PTI.

Underlining that Muslim fertility is declining very fast, he said Muslims can exceed Hindus only "if Hindus stop producing children completely and that is not going to happen, so it is not possible".

In his book "The Population Myth: Islam, Family Planning and Politics in India", former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi says the population of Muslims can "never" exceed that of Hindus in India. The book uses mathematical models by former Delhi University Vice Chancellor Dinesh Singh and Prof Ajay Kumar to back its supposition.

The "propaganda" that Muslims will overtake the Hindus has been going on for a long time, Quraishi told PTI.

Singh and Kumar have come up with two mathematical models - polynomial growth and exponential growth that are fitted into population data. The two algebraic equations are used to plot the graph of population of Hindus and Muslims to see if the two graphs will cross paths. But the equations show that the two graphs do not come together.

The polynomial growth model shows that the population of Hindus, which was 30.36 crore in 1951, is projected to increase to 115.9 crore in 2021. The population of Muslims from 3.58 crore in 1951 is projected to increase to 21.3 crore in 2021. The projection is made for 2021 as the book came out in February that year. Moreover, the next census was to be held in 2021 but has been delayed due to the Covid pandemic.

Mathematically, the model shows that the Muslim population can never exceed the Hindu population as the population graphs of the two communities can never meet.

According to the exponential growth model quoted in the book, the population of Hindus is projected to increase to 120.6 crore in 2021, while the population of Muslims is projected to increase to 22.6 crore in 2021.

Although the percentage increase in both Hindu and Muslim populations in the exponential model seems to be much larger than in the polynomial growth model, this is unlikely to happen in reality because the family planning programme has caused a decline in population growth, the book says.

The polynomial model can thus be considered a better alternative over exponential growth here, Quraishi writes. However, both models state that the Hindu population can never fall behind the Muslims.

"The mathematical models of professors Dinesh Singh and Ajay Kumar have clearly shown that even for 1,000 years there is no possibility of Muslims overtaking the Hindus,” Quraishi told PTI.

It is true population growth of Muslims is higher in percentage than the population growth of Hindus, but the population gap between the two communities is so large that Muslims are not surpassing Hindus even after the faster growth rate, he stated emphatically.

According to official data, the demographic ratio of India shows an increase in Muslims from 9.8 in 1951 to 14.2 in 2011, when the last census was held, and decline in Hindus from 84.1 per cent to 79.8 per cent. However, the increase in Muslim population is just 4.4 percentage points in 60 years.

Kothari said that anyone with little knowledge of basic mathematics can calculate that even if Hindus don’t produce any offspring and only Muslims give birth to children, religious demography would not "tip off" towards a Muslim majority before 2170.

"Is this practical or reasonable for common sense," he asked.

"This kind of comic theories like Muslim Majority India are circulated and floated by vested interests with bad thoughts and intentions," he writes in the foreword to Quraishi’s book.

P M Kulkarni, former Jawaharlal Nehru University professor for population, said Sachar Committee report projections have been made which show that roughly by the end of this century the Muslim population could be 18-20 per cent in the country.

The Sachar committee, set up to study the social, economic and educational conditions of Muslims in India, submitted its report in 2006.

Even with a higher fertility rate in Muslims and the Muslim share in population increasing slightly, it would hardly reach 20 per cent by end of the century, Kulkarni told PTI.

Kulkarni, however, added that he does not use words like never as the time frame is important.

"What happens in 1,000 years can’t be predicted, but Muslims exceeding Hindus in India cannot happen in a hundred years,” he said.

Theoretically, with the higher rate of Muslim fertility remaining constant, their population can overtake Hindus in many years, added K Balasubramanian, a demographer who retired from the Indian Institute of Health and Family Welfare in Hyderabad.

However, this is practically not possible as Muslim fertility rate has been on the decline over the years.

According to Pew research, Muslims in India have higher fertility rates than other groups, but have also experienced the sharpest decline in fertility in recent decades.

In 1992, the average Muslim woman had at least one more child than the average Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh or Jain, the research said.

By 2015, fertility rates across all groups had fallen with Muslims experiencing the most significant decline, from an average of 4.4 children per woman in 1992 to an average of 2.6 in 2015, it said.

Hindu women had an average of 3.3 children in 1992, a figure that fell to 2.1 by 2015. As a result of these shifts, the fertility gap between Muslim and Hindu women in India shrank from 1.1 to 0.5 children, it added.

The claim by Akhil Bhartiya Sant Parishad’s Himachal Pradesh chief is 'false'.

Watch the latest DH Videos here:

Published 24 April 2022, 14:59 IST

Follow us on :

Follow Us