Religious Switching or Conversion Rare in India: Study

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Unsubstantiated claims were made about the religious conversion in India to target Muslims 

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – Amid the claims of demographic changes through conversion in India, a new study done by US think tank group Pew Research Center found that people in India rarely switch their religion or convert to another religion.

In its second study on India’s religion, the Center surveyed nearly 30,000 people in India. Among them, very few said that they have switched their religion.

The study, whose findings were published on its website on 21 September, found that ‘99% of adults who were raised Hindu are still Hindu. Among those raised as Muslims, 97% are still Muslim as adults, and 94% of people raised Christian still identify as Christians’.

It further said ‘people who do switch religions tend to cancel each other out. For example, among all Indian adults, 0.7% were raised Hindu but no longer identify as such, and 0.8% were raised outside of the religion and are now Hindu’.

The study covers the six decades between 1951, when the first post-Partition census was conducted, and 2011, the date of the nation’s most recent census.

Unsubstantiated claims were made about the religious conversion in India to target Muslims saying that the minority community runs rackets to convert Hindus in order to change the demography of India. Recently, UP Police arrested Islamic preachers like Kaleem Siddiqui and Umar Gautam and others leveling similar allegations. However, Pew Research found that since the partition 1947, India’s religious composition has been fairly stable.

The study also said that even migration has not greatly affected the religious composition of the country. It said that only 0.4 % of India’s population are those who are from other countries. It said this percentage is “not large enough to have much impact on the religious composition of a country of India’s size”.

“Unauthorizsed immigration is a controversial topic in India and nearly impossible to accurately measure over time. According to some news reports, there are many millions of people from Muslim-majority countries living in India without legal status or documentation. But such high estimates have been put forth without supporting evidence and appear to be implausible based on a lack of corresponding outflows from origin countries and other indicators,” said the study.

It also found that though the population of India has tripled, the overall growth rate has slowed down during 1951 to 2011.

“India’s overall population growth has slowed considerably, especially since the 1990s. After adding the equivalent of nearly a quarter of its population every decade in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the country’s growth rate dropped to 22% in the 1990s and to 18% in the most recent census decade. Growth among Hindus slowed from a high of around 24% to about 17% in the 2000s, while Muslim growth slowed to around 25% and the rate among Christians dropped to 16%,” said the report.

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