The population of India is subdivided into more than five religious organizations. These include the Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists populations and other religious organizations. Over 99% of the total Indian population falls into the six religious groups stated in the previous sentence. These are, otherwise, described as the major religious groups of India. However, the six have different social demographics and size. Hindus are the largest group, followed by the Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and lastly Jains. In terms of strength, Hindu religion is the strongest as it has over 80% of the total population (Ponnapalli and Ram, 3). However, the Muslims are continually growing in the country and researchers have opined that one day they will surpass the Hindus in terms of their numbers. The religious groups occupy different areas of India and have varied levels of education and literacy. This paper will evaluate the social demographics of the religious groups in India drawing data from five articles. More specifically, the differences in education, level of literacy, poverty, population size, age, distribution, and socio economic rank would be a core part of this paper.
From the statistics of the census conducted on 2001, the Hindus are the most dominant community in India, as they constituted over 80% of the population residing in the rural areas and 75% of the urban Indian population (Drop-in-Article on Census, 4). As a result, they make an overall population of over 80%. The next dominant group in terms of population are the Muslims who constitute 13% of the total population. This is 11% of the total urban population and 17% of those in the urban areas. Notably, although the Hindus are the largest group, the Muslims are mostly concentrated in the urban areas than the Hindus. The third dominant religious group is consistent of the Christians who are 2.3% and are equally distributed in the urban and rural areas. The Sikhs have a percentage of 1.87% of the total Indian population while the Buddhists contribute to 0.77% only (Kaur, 41). Most of the Buddhists and the Jains are most concentrated in the urban areas than they are in the rural areas of India. Going by the gender of the religious followers, there is a very slight difference between the male and female followers. The following table shows the population distribution of the dominant religious groups in India and the genders of the populations.
Figure 1: The Indian Population across Religious Groups Residing In Urban and Rural Areas, Male and Female (Thorat, 2)
Viewing the population demographics of the major religious groups from a gender perspective, there is no particular gender that is dominant among them. Specifically, the manner in which the males and females are distributed has a correspondence to the overall distribution of the whole population. In the urban areas are the highest number of people compared to the rural areas. Specifically, there are more female Hindus in the rural and urban areas than males. However, the Muslims have more males than females in both the urban and rural areas as well as Christians. On the national average, there are more females than males in rural areas and more males than females in the urban areas. These patterns arise from the fact that the male individuals in the religious groups move to cities in search for greener pastures while women are left in the rural areas. However, the gap between male and female is not very high.
Figure 2: Populations Count in the Various Major Religious Groups Male and Female (Thorat, 3)
Education and Literacy
Literacy is the ability of an individual to read and write while education is the level of academic achievement that an individual has. The data from the 2001 census shows that 64.8% of the total people aged over seven years of Indian population were literate. The Jain religious community had the highest level of literacy at 94.1% followed by the Christians who had an 80.3% literacy level. Buddhists followed closely with 72.7% of their total population being literate. Only 65.1% of the Hindus are literate while the Muslims had the lowest level of literacy at 59.1% (Ponnapalli and Ram, 4). The reasons as to why the Hindus and the Muslims have a low level of literacy is their restrictive norms and practices that bar women from scholastic activities and hence making them illiterate. In contrast, the Jains are more educated because of their monks delivered their scriptures and offered them opportunities to read and write. Additionally, the fact that most of the Jains reside in the urban areas makes them able to access education, which might not be the case in the rural areas. Christians were of course literate due to the influence of missionaries who told them the importance of education and took them to schools. The following chart represents the percentages of literacy for the various religious groups.
Figure 3: The Literacy Rates of the Different Indian Religious Groups (Kaur, 41)
A study of all the religious groups shows that literacy was higher in the urban areas than it was in the rural areas. This is owed to the fact that most of the facilities for education are present in the urban areas than they are in the rural parts. Additionally, just like other innovations, literacy starts from the urban areas and slowly move into the rural areas. Although the gap between the literacy level in the urban areas and rural areas among other religious communities is narrow, Hindu has the largest gap.
Figure 4: Differences in Literacy between the Urban and Rural Areas in the Major Religious Groups (Kaur, 46)
Just like in many other countries, India experiences a wide gap in terms of gender differences in literacy rate. In this regard, women are the most illiterate in all the major religious groups. This is because of social constraints that have placed women in the domestic tasks. Additionally, the control that men have over women as well as the religious teachings that bar women from schooling are also other sources of these gender disparities in literacy. Specifically, the national gender gap in literacy stood at less than 10% in 2001 among the Jains and the Christians. Among the Hindu, the difference was 23% with the Muslims having a gender gap of 17.5%. The Hindus and Muslims had the highest illiteracy rates for women at 53.2% and 50.1% respectively as shown by the following figure.
Figure 5: Gender Gap in Literacy among the Major Religious Groups (Kaur, 50)
Socioeconomic Levels and Poverty
Poverty here is the level of economic achievement of the populations as well as their ability to meet their basic needs. Incidences of poverty are prevalent in the rural areas. Highest poverty rates are observed in Buddhists and Muslims in the rural areas. However, a different picture is painted in the urban areas where the Muslims have the highest rate of poverty followed by the Buddhists with Hindus in third, in both urban and rural areas, Christians are the least poor followed by the Sikh who are seen to be well off (Panagariya and More, 5). The poverty levels are much closely related to the literacy levels. This is because those religious groups who are more educated have low levels of poverty than those with high illiteracy rates. The following figure displays the poverty incidences across the major religious groups.
Figure 6: The Poverty Incidences across the Major Religious Groups in India (Thorat, 16)
In conclusion, India has six main religious communities namely, the Hindu, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains. The largest of all these are the Hindu who contribute of over 80% of the total Indian population. These are followed by Muslims at a distance third and Christians in fourth. These religious groups have differing social demographics, ranging from the level of education, literacy, poverty, and economic status. The most illiterate are the Hindus and Muslims as they have religious constraints that bar female scholastic explorations. Christians are the most literate with over 80% of them being able to read and write. This is due to the value they attach to education. In terms of poverty, Muslims and Hindus are the most poor with Sikhs and Christians being well off. There exists a relationship between the level of poverty and literacy as the most literate are well off economically compared to the least educated.
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