B6 Religion and Society in India

Topics of interest for CSE

  1. Religious communities in India.
  2. Problems of religious minorities.


2011 Population (%age)
Decadal Growth Rate
96.63 crore (79.8 %)
16.8 %
17.22 crore (14.2%)
24.6 %
2.78 crore (2.3%)
15.5 %
2.08 crore (1.7%)
8.4 %
0.84 crore (0.7%)
6 %
0.45 crore (0.4%)
5.4 %
Other Religions & Persuasions (ORP)
0.79 crore (0.7%)
Religion Not Stated
0.29 crore (0.2%)
121.08 crore
17.7 %

Decadal growth rate for Hindus has been on the decline since its peak at 24.07% in 1981. The Muslim decadal growth rate too has been rapidly declining from its peak of 32.88% in 1991 and is currently at a historic low of 24.6%.

Muslims have the lowest literacy rate for the community as a whole at 59.5% followed by the Hindus at 65%. Jains have the highest literacy rate for any community at 95%.

Louis Wirth defined a minority group as “any group of people who, because of their physical or cultural characteristics, are singled out from the others in the society in which they live for differential and unequal treatment, and who therefore regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination.”

Rama Srinivasan says that aspirations for consensual relationships have led to non-normative relationships that are only grudgingly approved by the state. WRT Love Jihad.


All communities except the Hindus are considered minorities. Because of numerical inferiority a religious community experiences a sense of deprivation and feels persecuted which leads to development of a minority consciousness.
Minority problems are a relatively modern issue. After the revolt of 1857, the British, under their policy of divide and rule, blamed the Muslim elite and discriminated against them. The result was that the Hindus had had a much greater access to civil services and higher education while the Muslim community saw large scale religious revival movements.

By the end of the 19th century Muslims were generally lagging behind in terms of education and access to jobs in the government thus, leading to development of a feeling of deprivation and consequently the development of a minority consciousness. With divisive policy initiatives by the British such as the communal electorate in 1909 the minority consciousness got further consolidated. This also led to the development of minority consciousness by other communities which also was consolidated with the communal award of 1932.

Post-independence, minority consciousness has continued growing with different minorities facing different problems. Buddhist and Jains face no community specific problems as such. Navayana is the form of Buddhism as reinterpreted by Ambedkar for the upliftment of Dalits.


According to the Sachar Committee report, Muslim representation in higher education and modern services remains very poor. They also constitute the largest share of BPL population in urban areas (SC do the same in rural areas).

  1. Progressive impoverishment of muslims due to failure to take modern education.
  2. Sense of acute deprivation due to decline in demand for skilled artisans in 19th century.
  3. Modernisation brings with it a consumer culture which clashes with the traditional Muslim identity thereby causing an identity crisis.
  4. Further exacerbated due to lack of modern reinterpretations of Muslim identity as well as the large number of revivalist movements. Contra-acculturative reactions.

Rise of communalism as well as communal politics has led to further entrenchment of the minority consciousness. The Muslim personal law vs. UCC is an evergreen issue for the orthodox and liberal sides of the community as well as the nation as a whole.


Largely concentrated in the state of PB, and the neighbouring areas of HR and RJ. They are thinly spread over most of North India in general too.

Sikhs had been agitating for a separate electorate since British times, and post independence for a Punjabi Suba. This points to a well-developed minority consciousness and want for a separate political identity. Along with this, the rapid economic growth of 60s and 70s due to the green revolution led to a situation of anomie which led to the rise of terrorist movement as a contra-acculturative reaction.

A study by SS Gill showed that 60% marginal and 25% small farmers had sold off their lands by the 80s due to the ever increasing costs of cultivation. This trend has since then been accelerated with reduction in government subsidies and increasing incidence of droughts. De-peasantisation of the 70s and 80s aggravated the terrorist movement then in vogue with most terrorist recruits coming from small land holders.

Another problem faced by the Sikhs is the loss of identity due to modernisation. They were one of the first communities to take up the modern consumerist ethos which has led to a dilution of identity and thereby the anomic situation of increased alcohol and drug consumption. Ref: Udta Punjab. Sardar Boys.


They are found most overwhelmingly in the South where the Syrian Orthodox Church has a strong hold. In the NE, it is mostly Catholic and Baptist Churches that lead the way.

They have not displayed acute minority consciousness but event such as the attacks by vandals on Churches in Delhi have served to accelerate the development of the same. So far, only Dalit Christians are agitating for reservations.


  • Declining populations,
  • Genetic disorders as marrying a non-parsi excludes you from the community.


lose reservation benefits on conversion.

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