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Census of India 2001

Kashmir and Religious Demography

The idea of population census in India is very old. In ancient India from times immemorial some estimates of population was recorded in different manuscripts and scriptures. Rigveda records a 'Low Density' population in and around villages. Where as 3000 years BC, we had 'high density' population during Harappa and Mohenjodaro civilization. When Alexandar came to India (327 BC) the population density was still higher. Chandergupta Maurya had an army of 700,000 soldiers. This clearly shows that there was some system of census in India with details of civilians and soldiers. Kautilya's Arthashastra details population statistics for purposes of taxation. It also elaborates methods of conducting population, agriculture and economic censuses. During the Mughal period the ownership of land, land revenue and population census were also maintained. However, during British rule, census operation picked up gradually.

From the time of East India Company, there had been growing need for population statistics for tax purposes. The British Parliament was also keen on the estimates of population in the overseas territories. Between 1816 and 1839, some efforts were made to estimate populations of India. There are some records available e.g. Ward and Conner's Memoris of the Survey of Travancore and Cochin State' (1816-1820), Sir John Malcolm's "Report on the Province of Malwa and Adjoining Districts" (1822), R. Montogomery Martin's 'Compilation, Statistics on the colonies of the British Empire' (1839) etc. But it was in 1865 that the Government of India and the Home Government agreed in principle that a general population census would be taken in 1871. The actual collection of the data for this census was done from 1867 to 1872. This census is usually known as 1872 census which, provided important economic information and comprehensive record of Religious Demographic data. However first complete census of the Indian population was conducted in 1881. The year 1881 is watershed in the history of Indian census. Since then census has been conducted after every 10 years. In the history of Indian census of 130 years, only twice census operations have been suspended in the parts of the country. Assam in 1981 and Jammu and Kashmir in 1991. Census operations were not suspended in 1941 in the midst of World War II nor in 1951 soon after partition. After Independence, the Census Act was passed in 1948. In 1949, the Government of India took two important decisions (1) to initiate steps for the improvement of registration of vital statistics (2) to establish a single organization at the Center under the Registrar General to deal with vital statistics and census.

India has distinction of being the land from where certain great religions of the world namely - Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism originated. Muslim and British rule brought Islam and Christianity to India. The Muslim rule in India lasted for 567 years (1190-1757) and British rule lasted for 190 years (1757-1947). During 757 years, the population of Muslims has risen from 0.4 million in 1200 to 9.5 million in 1947. The population of Muslims in this period has grown to 25 percent and Hindu population has fallen from 100 to 75 percent. After Independence also, the growth rate of Muslims during 1947-2001 has been higher than the growth rate of Hindus. Muslim population has risen from 9.5% to 13.4% and Hindu population has fallen from 86.64% to 80.5%. The Indian population stands at 1028 million in 2001, against 347 million at the time of independence i.e. almost three times of 1947 (August) estimates.

Incidentally, demographics and economics have changed social equation. The Indians below 34 years are 728 million almost 70% of the total population. There is a major young force in making and the country has its social responsibility. There is hardly any representation of young members in Parliament. Out of 543 sitting Lok Sabha members, only 12 are born after 1970. Although literacy rate has gone up and stands at 64.8 percent, but the poverty ratio stands at 36 percent and 100 million are unemployed in the country despite economic growth (GDP growth of 6.1 percent a year during 1990-98, according to National Accounts, NAS) whereas China's poverty ratio of 4.6 percent has been achieved in 1998 itself despite of its population growth.

The menace of population explosion is very grave in our country. The sooner it is curbed better it is. Global research shows that fertility drops when women enter the work force and earn money. Once a woman starts earning, having a child means a temporary stoppage of income, hence they opt for smaller families. Empowered Women the world over give more attention to education, health and small families.

The Times of India (Sep. 7,2004) records : "Here is India by the numbers, And by religion. Hindus continue to comprise and overwhelming majority of the country 80.5%, although their growth rate has declined by 4.5% in the period 1981-91 to 1991-2001, from 25.1% to 20.3%. Muslims account for 13.4% of the population, but their growth rate has nudged up by 1.5% from 34.5% to 36%. In other words, for every Muslim there are Six Hindus in the country".

The National Commission for Minorities has observed that conversion to Christianity has taken an alarming proportion in North - Eastern States. In Tripura, during 1991-2001, the Hindu population grew by 15 percent, while christian population grew by 121 percent. In Meghalaya according to 1991 census, the christian population was 11,46,092, within a span of 10 years, the number rose to 16,28,986. The increase was 4,82,894. In Mizoram the population increase was 1,81,467. NCM report describes the following facts :-

From 1991 to 2001, the growth rate of Christian population was 22.6 percent.

At present the Christian population is 24 million, i.e. 2.3 percent of total population.

Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya have the highest percentage of this community - 90 percent in Nagaland, 87 percent in Mizoram and 70.3 percent in Meghalaya, 25.2 percent to total population is in Kerala.

- There are eight states where Christian community exceeds one million - the states are Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

According to National Family Health Survey (NFHS) during 1998-99, 17.9 percent of Hindus have a low standard of living as compared to Muslims who are only 12.9 percent female literacy rate of Hindus is 86.7% where as Muslims is 85.5%, almost same.

Religious demographic changes have changed the destinies of many countries, leading to large scale killings, abduction, destruction of religious places, uprooting of millions of people and unspeakable violation of Human Rights. Religious intolerance made Parsis to leave Persia (Iran) as early as in 13th century. In Soviet Union before its collapse, the Muslims sustained a birth rate of five times that of non-Muslims. While Muslims constituted only 16 percent of Soviet population, they counted a 49 percent increase in the total population between 1979-1989. (The demographic of Islamic Nations, p 13). Similarly, Labanon turned from Christian - majority to Muslim - majority state by the higher birth rate of Muslims. (Ann Sheety Report 1990, p 15). It is a world wide fact that any increase in Muslim population invariably leads to violent struggle for Independence, secession or division of parent country. That has been the history of India, Lebanon, Bosnia, Cyprus, Chechanya and many other countries. In 1947, Hindu population is West Pakistan was 23 percent and today it is less than one percent and Hindu population in Bangladesh (East Pakistan) was about 30 percent and now it is hardly 7 per cent. Afganistan has largely become Hindu-less so also Kashmir. Muslim fundamentalism and terrorism is fast spreading in India. Even Christianity is making in-roads in North-Eastern States, mainly by conversion. This is very dangerous for the integrity, security, unity and future of the country.

Population is no doubt a very powerful factor in democratic politics. The delimitation of constituencies and re-adjustment of seats in the state legislatures and Lok Sabha every ten years are based primarily on census data. But in India, vote-bank politics has become dirty game. Kashmiri Hindus who are living refugees in their own country since 1990, and donot constitute a vote-bank have become victims of this trend. Frankly speaking, Kashmiri Hindus have a long history of persecution, torture and unending sufferings. There were about 8 Lakh Hindus living in Kashmir during Hindu rule till 14th century. With the advent of Muslim rule the situation changed drastically. During the period 1339 to 1819, there was large scale persecution of Hindus and forcible conversion. Maharaja Ranjit Singh conquered Kashmir from Pathan's in 1819. Within four months of Sikh rule census was conducted in Kashmir. The census figures of population are alarming. The population stood at 6 Lakhs and out of that only 28,000 were Kashmiri Pandits rest were converted or decimated.

Prof. Buhler published a fascinating thesis on Kashmiri Pandits in his report in 1877, the extracts (13) "The Brahmins or Pandits, as they are usually called, are the only native of Kashmir who have preserved their ancient faith, while all the other castes have embraced Mohammedanism. Their number probably does not exceed 40,000 to 50,000. Babu Nilambar Mukarji told me that a late census of the town Srinagar had shown 24,000 for the city, and that the reminder of the country probably did not hold more than the same number". According to 1931 census Kashmiri Hindus were 63088 and 1941 census records 78,868 and total population was 17, 28, 705 in Kashmir Division.

After Independence, census figures of Kashmiri Hindus were by and large manipulated. The 1971 census recorded the number of Hindus in Kashmir at 1, 11,311 and 1981 census at 1,23,828. Thus the population of Hindus in Kashmir Division registered only 6.75 percent decadal growth during 1971 - 1981, as against the growth rate of 27.29 percent as a whole. There was no census in Jammu and Kashmir in 1991. The census of Jammu and Kashmir in 2001 shows total population - 10,143,700. Males 5,360,926 and females 4,782,774. sex ratio 892 per 1000 males, whereas Kashmiri Hindus total 1,00,962. Male 90,870 and female 10,020! These census figures of Kashmiri Hindus are inaccurate and totally distorted with unnatural and abnormal sex ratio. The figures have been deliberately kept vague. The district wise break up of Hindu population in Kashmir valley is as follows :

Name of District Total Population Male  Female
Kupwara  12708  12419  289
Baramulla  15191  13691  1500
Srinagar  48853  43262  5591
Badgam  6533  5988  545
Pulwama  6088  5242  846
Anantnag  11589  10340  1449
100962  90942  10020

During 1990, there was ethnic cleansing of minority community from Kashmir valley. Kashmiri Hindus took refuge in Jammu and other parts of the country. Government of Jammu and Kashmir started registrations of displaced families at Jammu which was conducted by other state Governments as well. In Jammu division total number of 28561 families got registered. Out of these 25215 were Hindus families and 21199 families were registered else-where in the country. Almost equal number of families could not get registered due to official apathy and many with firm belief that they have to return back soon to their homes. At a later stage Kashmiri Hindus approached National Human Right Commission with a list of fresh registration but it is still kept in abeyance. About 50,000 families are already registered and a large chunk of families are still lying un - registered. As such there are about 100,000 families comprising about 500,000 Kashmiri Hindus taking an average of 5 persons per family who are lying dispersed throughout country. Another fact recorded in census 2001 (Jammu & Kashmir) is shown below :

Total  %
A. Number of census Houses 2,768,552 100.00
A-1. Vacant census Houses 240,003 8.7
A-2. Occupied census Houses 2,528,549 91.3

This is a factual position that most of the vacant census houses belong to Kashmiri Hindus. Hence the number of persons who have been hounded out is much more.

There should be a National Register which will account for total number of persons of Kashmiri origin and properties left behind. Secondly, till Kashmiri Hindus return home they should be treated in the same manner and on the same analogy as for the people of Sikkim as per Article 371 F (f) of the Constitution which states "Parliament may, for the purpose of protecting the right and interests of different sections of the population of Sikkim make provision for the number of seats in legislative Assembly of the state of Sikkim which may be filled by candidates belonging to such sections and for delimitation of the assembly constituency from which candidates belonging to such sections alone may stand for election to the legislative assembly of the state of Sikkim". Similarly Art 331 and Art 333 provide nominations of representatives of Anglo-Indian Community in parliament and legislative assemblies. President nominates not more than two members of the community to the Parliament and state governors nominate one members of the community to the assembly.

Kashmiri Hindus have time and again demanded that every Kashmiri Hindu should be registered and photo-identity cards issued to all such persons so that their identity and state subject will not get ablated. Recently, they have started this practice them-selves and needs Government's support. Census 2001 is on eye opener, every citizen of this country needs to be registered and issued photo-identity card so that millions of Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals who are illegally living in India can be identified and sent back to their respective lands. This is very important to save India from further religious demographic imbalance.

Kashmiri Hindus despite of having suffered untold miseries, in the past have maintained distinct community features. Kashmiri Hindu is a class-less society of Brahmans without any further caste and creed. A Kashmiri Hindu farmer, a trader, a doctor, a teacher, and an advocate an employee everyone is of the same class i.e., "Kashmiri Pandit". Perhaps this is the greatest strength of its survival! The Class-less society will be boon for Indian Society as whole.

Kashmiri Writers Chaman Lal Gadoo
  

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