SAR News Vol.22.No.24 Jun.17, 2002

Indian Christian Population is on a Decline: Study 

Bangalore: SAR News

The Hindutva revivalists and the militants belonging to the Sangh Parivar
are waging a propaganda war against the Christians by accusing the latter
of converting Hindus in large numbers and bringing out false data about
the activities of the Christians. But contrary to the diehard bigots'
claims, the Indian Christian population according to the Government of
India Census of 2000-2001 is 22100000, i.e., around 22-odd
million. Comparing these figures to the Census figures of 1991 reveals
that the number of Christians in India is on a rapid decline.

Here are the facts and figures: 1951 - 2.5 (in percent); 1961 -
2.44; 1971 - 2.60; 1981 - 2 .43; 1991 - 2.34; 2001 - 2.18. The Christians
have lost nearly 4 million members. They have been either converted or
reconverted by some Hindu outfits like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP),
Vanavasi Kalayan Parishad and others.

According to a recent study, another shocking revelation is that the
Syrian Christians of Kerala are on the verge of decimation. The recent
study by a Christian scholar (reported on vernacular TV channel
also) says that the Syrian Christian community of Kerala would be
decimated in a few decades due to various factors including migration,
low fertility and extremely low growth rates. There are literally no
conversions to the Syrian Christian Church of Kerala. The Hindu
Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh has given a clean chit to the Orthodox
and Mar Thoma Churches for obvious reasons. The Knanaya Church still
believes in racial purity and its members are strictly endogamous. Like
in the Hindu castes, one has to be born into the denomination.

Incidentally, 30 percent of the Indian Christian population lives in
Kerala. So one can anticipate the fate of the Church in India. To add to
the woes, the Hindu revivalists are converting many Christian Adivasis
and Dalits to Hinduism. A great lure and weapon is the denial of
reservation to the Christians from the Adivasi and Dalit backgrounds.

Another pocket of Christians - Goa - is also showing negative
trends. There are reports of Christians being lured for
reconversion. This is probably due to a grave mistake the Church had
committed in the past. It also registered the caste identities of those
who became Christians. The so-called upper castes want to preserve the
caste supremacy and the Hindutva elements are cashing in on
it. Evangelical activity is not reported to be anywhere near
impressive. Like in Kerala, the anticipation is about a rapid decline in
the Christian population.

Here's a list of State-wise population of Christians in India
Andhra Pradesh: 12,17,000 (1.83%); Arunachal Pradesh: 89,013
(10.3%); Assam: 7,44,000 (3.32%); Bihar: 8,44,000 (0.98%); Goa: 3,49,000
(29.86%); Gujarat: 1,81,753 (0.44%); Haryana: 15,700 (0.10%); Himachal
Pradesh: 4,435 (0.09%); Karnataka: 8,60,000 (1.92%); Kerala: 56,22,000
(19.32%); Madhya Pradesh 4,27,000 (0.66%); Maharashtra: 8,85,000
(1.12%); Manipur: 6,27,000 (34.11%); Meghalaya: 11,64,000
(4.58%); Mizoram: 5,91,000 (85.73%); Nagaland: 10,58,000
(87.5%); Orissa: 6,66,000 (2.1%); Punjab: 2,25,000
(1.1%); Rajasthan: 48,000 (0.11%); Sikkim: 13,500 (3.3%); Tamil
Nadu: 32,00,000 (5.7%); Tripura: 46,500 (1.68%); Uttar Pradesh: 2,00,000
(0.14%); West Bengal: 3,00,000 (0.56%); New Delhi: 83,000
(0.88%); Pondicherry: 63,000 (7.3%). (The figures are based on the
official statistics. The figures for the three new States are included
with the parent states).

The statistics show that the talk of "aggressive evangelisation" and
"mass conversion" is absolutely bogus. Technically and practically, the
Indian Christians are on the losing side.

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