Faith Survives

3 October 2015
Kashmir Life

Srinagar: For the first time after the partition, the majority Muslim population makes 68.31 percent of J&K's 12541302 people. Massive demographic upheavals in the incidents associated with 1947 led to the fall of Muslim population from more than 72 percent of state's population to mere 68.29 percent in 1961. Now, it is the highest percentage composition ever in last more than six decades. The dispersal of populations across the regions suggest that 6888475 souls (54.92 percent) live in Kashmir region, 5378538 (42.88 percent) in Jammu region and the balance 274289 (2.18 percent) in the arid Ladakh desert. Compared to the last headcount in 2001, the data suggests that Kashmir has improved by around 0.93 percent its share in the state population compared to Jammu and Ladakh which have reduced its tally on this count by 0.79 percent and 0.15 percent, respectively. Last census (2001) suggested only 53.99 percent population of the state lived in Kashmir as compared to 43.67 percent in Jammu and 2.33 percent in Ladakh. Tehsil-wise-Population-in-J&KJ&K population increased from 10143700 in 2001 to 12541302 in 2011, registering a growth rate of 23.63 percent in a decade. Region wise, it is slightly different story. Ladakh, for instance, registered the lowest growth rate of 15.95 percent. Jammu was slightly better with 21.40 percent. Kashmir was robust with an above state-level growth rate with 25.77 percent. If the population composition is seen in regions, then 168833 Hindus make Kashmir's 2.45 percent population, followed by 55950 (0.81 percent) Sikhs and 11857 (0.17 percent) Christians. Balance 6640957 people are making the dominant 96.40 percent are Muslims. Jammu is different. Of the 5378538 people counted in Jammu region in 2011, dominant 3364618 (62.55 percent) are Hindus. With 1799232 souls, Muslims make Jammu's 33.45 percent population as 176635 Sikhs make its 3.28 percent and 22512 Christians make a microscopic minority of 0.41 percent. Ladakh, territorially the biggest region is scarcely populated. Of the desert region's 274289 people, 33223 were Hindus (12.11 percent), 108761 Buddhists (39.65 percent) and 127296 Muslims making the region's 46.40 percent population. Decadal growth calculations on district level offer yet another interesting story of the continuity. Of the 22 districts, 12 have exhibited a growth rate which is above the state average of 23.63 percent. South Kashmir Islamabad leads with a phenomenal growth of 38.57 percent followed by Ganderbal with 36.5 percent, Kupwara with 33.81 percent as Rajouri with 32.92 percent falls at fourth position. Other above average districts includes Ramban (31.99 percent), Bandipore (28.64 percent), Doda (28 percent), Poonch (27.97 percent), Reasi (27.03 percent), Pulwama (27 percent), Shopian (25.97 percent) and Budgam (24.13 percent). Remaining 10 districts have growth rate below the state growth rate. South Kashmir Kulgam which is located between high-growth Shopian, Pulwama and Islamabad districts have exhibited the phenomenally lowest ever growth - 7.72 percent. The second lowest is Leh with 13.86 percent and Jammu (12.73 percent). While four districts of Srinagar, Kishtwar, Udhampur and Kathua fall in various degrees of growth below 21 percent, Baramulla, Kargil and Samba have registered a growth of 19.45 percent, 18.1 percent and 17.1 percent, respectively. Shankar-AcharyaOf the three agro-climatic regions, Ladakh and Kashmir are Muslim dominated and Jammu is predominantly Hindu. Of 22 districts that make J&K, 17 are predominantly Muslim, one is Buddhist and four are Hindu majority districts. If the community wise population is taking at the sub-district level, the story is getting differently interesting. J&K has 78 sub-districts and 59 are Muslim majority, 15 are Hindu majority and four are Buddhist dominated. District-Wise-PopluationThe general rule that the demography of the state has exhibited historically is that in a Muslim majority district, Hindus are the principal minority and vice versa. But there have been certain interesting changes. In Leh district, for instance, Muslims are not the principal minority - it is Hindus. In Tral, Baramulla and Rafiabad sub districts, Sikhs are the principal minority and not the Hindus. In Jammu region, there are four sub districts where Sikhs are the principal minority. Sikhs-of-KashmirThe faith based growth rate is telling a different story of Kashmir's diverse populations. Take the majority Muslims. From 679324 individuals in 2001 to 8567485 in 2011, they have grown by 26.11 percent in last one decade. Hindus which make the second most populous faith in the state have improved their population from 3005349 souls to 3566674 in a decade. It makes a growth rate of 18.67 percent. Sikhs, another important minority living in the state, has increased its population from 207154 to 234848 between the two headcounts. This is a net appreciation in the numbers by 13.36 percent. Interestingly, there are three sub districts - Chrar-e-Sharief, Marwa and Chatroo, where no Sikh exists. Community-Wise-Population-In-J&KThree other minorities having exhibited their growth rate quite abnormally. Buddhists and Jains have grown negatively in last 10 years. Buddhists have nosedived from 113787 in 2001 to 112584 in 2011 thus showing a negative growth by 1.05 percent which is quite serious for the small community. While Buddhists are mostly based in Leh and parts of Kargil, the 2011 headcount found a few persons almost in every sub-district except Khan Sahab in Budgam at the time of enumeration. Similarly, the sub-microscopic Jain community has its numbers dwindled from 2518 to 2490 in 10 years making a negative growth of 1.11 percent slightly more than that of Buddhists. Christians-celebrating-Christmas-in-Kashmir-valleyInterestingly, it is the microscopic Christian community that has exhibited a phenomenal growth - from 20299 in 2001 to 35631 in 2011, which exhibits a growth by 75.53 percent. Against making 0.2 percent of state's population in 2001, they are now 0.284 percent. Christians have played a huge role in making the modern education and health care accessible to the people in Kashmir. But never ever has it actually helped them increase their numbers. But there has been a shift in the last 20 years. In 1961, J&K had 2848 Christians which increased to 7182 in 1971 and 8481 in 1981. However, in 2001, their number had surged to 20299 which is now 35631. What makes their population growth more interesting is that while 18.58 percent of the total Christian population of the state lived in Kashmir valley in 2001, it is now 31.98 percent. They exist in all sub-districts across the state. Earlier, they were concentrated mostly in Jammu but now Srinagar city has more Christian population than even Udhampur. Of Kashmir's ten districts, six have Christian population in four digits and four in three digits. Another interesting facet of the Christian growth in Kashmir is that in 2001, there were more males and quite a few females. With 3277 males and only 480 females, the community had a sex ratio of only 146. This sex ratio typically makes any growth almost impossible. But in 2011, they are 7443 males and 3954 females which mean they have improved their sex ratio which is now 531. If the community can register a growth rate of more than 75 percent with a negligible sex ratio, it could be a 500 percent growth the next time an enumerator pushes their door bell! Their growth is demographer's enigma that could make the entire exercise questionable if there are no plausible explanations for it.