Media Reports over Population Study by EAC-PM, “Misleading” and “Misreported”:  Population Foundation of India (PFI)

Expressing concern over the “spreading of alarm on Growth of Muslim Population” by the Indian media, the PFI has urged, “The most effective way to manage population growth is through investment in education, economic development, gender equity” media refrain from using demographic studies to create fear and division.”

The Population Foundation of India, a Delhi-based policy and advocacy organization has expressed deeply concerned over the recent media reports that are misreporting the findings from the study conducted by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister titled “Share of Religious Minorities; A Cross-Country Analysis (1950-2015).”

The organisation released a press note on 9th May, urges that media must not misreport the study on population by EAC-PM. PFI said that such interpretations are not only inaccurate but also “Misleading” and “Baseless”. It is essential to present data accurately and contextuality, highlighting the role of education, income, and socioeconomic development in shaping demographic trends.

Share of Religious Minorities; A Cross-Country Analysis (1950-2015): A Study by EAC-PM

The study examined the changes in the population of majority and minority religious communities across 167 countries. In India, it said the Hindu community’s population decreased by 7.82 percent over 65 years, from 84.68 percent in 1950 to 78.06 percent in 2015. During the same time period, the share of Muslim population rose from 9.84 to 14.09 percent, the Christian population from 2.24 to 2.36 percent, and the Sikhs’ share from 1.24 to 1.85 percent over 65 years. The share of the Buddhist population also witnessed a rise, from 0.05 percent to 0.81 percent. The population of Jains and Parsis declined, with the later witnessing an 85 percent dip.

PFI said that according to the Census of India, the decadal growth rate for Muslim has been declining over the past three decades. Specially, the decadal growth rate for Muslims decreased from 32.9% in 1981—1991 to 24.6% in 2001-2011. Thia decline is more pronounced than that of Hindus, whose growth rate fell from 22.7% to 16.8% over the same period. The census data is available from 1951 to 2011 and is quite similar to the data in this study, indicating that these numbers are not new.

The study’s focus on changes in the share of majority and minority religious groups globally over a 65 years period should not be used to incite fear and discrimination against any community. “The media’s selective portrayal of data to highlight the increase in the Muslim population is an example of misrepresentation that ignores broader demographic trends,” said Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India.

The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is declining in all Religious Groups

As per the press statement issued by the PFI, the Total Fertility Rate among all religious groups is declining. The highest decrease in TFR from 2005-06 to 2019-21 was observed among Muslims, which dropped by 1 percentage point, followed by Hindus at 0.7 percentage points. This data underscores that the fertility rates are converging across different religious communities.

Fertility rates are closely linked to education and income levels, not religion. States with better access to education, healthcare, and socioeconomic development, such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu, exhibit lower TFRs across all religious groups. For Example, the TFR among Muslim women in Kerala (2.25) is lower than the TFR among Hindu women in Bihar (2.88).

The Population Foundation of India urges that India needs to invest in women and young people to reap demographic and gender dividends. Additionally, it will need to prepare for an aging population in the future, which could yield a silver dividend. We advocates for policies that promote inclusive development and gender equity to ensure a balanced and harmonious society.


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