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Why the percentage of Hindus in Indian population, might decline in the coming years?


Before I answer this question, let me explain you that I have written this article purely as a student of economics (of which demographics is an important part). I do not have any specific feeling towards any religion and this article was not meant to hurt anybody’s sentiments, emotions or religious beliefs. I write this article with the sole intention of stating my analysis and airing my views about the question posed.

Hinduism and a few more religions are popular for the practice of social evils like dowry and discouragement of girl child. The latter happens to such an extent that many families kill a girl as soon as it is born. People continue to kill the female babies until a male is born. There have been numerous reports of such incidents especially from the Northern parts of India like Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi etc. In certain cases, they go on giving birth to children until a male child is born. And once that happens, they have so many children that they are even unable to afford education for all their children.

Please have a look at this sex ratio data that I found on the Census of India Website (exact link needed). Please click on the images to make them more legible:

selectedsexratio.jpgratioinindia.jpg

Click to enlarge the image

agegroupwise

In the data that I have posted here, Sex Ratio is the number of Females per thousand males. It is paramount that there is a good balance between the number of males and females and neither side is too heavy or too light. As the world sex ratio has been such that the number of females per 1000 males is always less, in my opinion a good ratio for any country would be 980 or more females per thousand males. However, once it is below that 980 figure, the ratio start to become exponentially dangerous in intensity in response to a unit decrease in the number of females per thousand males.

Considering the present trend, if it continues, soon the sex ratio will reach a tipping point and there will be a population implosion in the Hindu society. It will become very difficult for aspiring bridegrooms to find a bride and there might be a situation where a particular set of men will go unmarried because they just couldn’t find a bride.

Now all this may sound crazy but this is simple correlation and the causation is self-evident. Let me tell you about the correlation.

Sex ratio is the number of women per thousand men. If the number of women per thousand men is alarmingly low (as in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab etc) then, when the overall number of men and women (in the region whose sex ratio is in question) is considered the difference in their number turns out to be appalling. Because the majority of Indians are under the age of Twenty-five (and this trend will remain at least until 2020), the given correlation is not affected by the argument that majority of the men in question might already be married (also note another counter argument to this that a majority of the women might also already be married :)). So with such a difference in the number of men and women, where will the extra men (a fairly large number) get their brides (assuming that they would like to marry only within their caste/religion)? From another region/state? Not possible, because it’s the same grim scenario almost every where.

This will inevitably result in the decline of the Hindu population as a percentage of the overall population. And just for numbers’ sake: lack of awareness or refusal to use contraceptives and birth control techniques in other communities coupled with factors like polygamy will continue to fuel their population growth.

Dowry system is one of the biggest reasons for such a widespread backlash against the girl child. In my opinion dowry is not an evil until the bridegroom’s side does not demand anything form the Bride’s side and are happy/content or indifferent to whatever the Bride’s side has to offer. However, existence of such a system seems silly sometimes. Hindus can learn some good lessons here, from Islam. From some Muslim friends, I have learnt that there is no system like dowry in Islam. The bride’s and the bridegroom’s side agree to share the cost of the marriage equally which itself is pretty low unlike an average Hindu marriage. In my previous company an American colleague of mine was explaining to me that in American (or Christian) marriages there is nothing like dowry. He said that when a person gets married, his/her friends pool in some money and buy them stuff that could be essential for them to start their married life. When I heard that (apologies if I sound harsh but that’s what I felt), I could imagine Indian Hindu marriages as an auction scene where a boy’s parents award the party (Bride’s side) that gives them the best price for their child :))

More results through sex-ratio correlation

With reference to my conclusions drawn on the sex ratio issue, I have another correlation to be presented. From the sex-ratio issue we learnt that the unmarried men will greatly outnumber the unmarried women and there will be a scarcity of unmarried women in particular (and women in general). In other words, there will be an abundance of men. This will lead to an increase in the number of Homosexuals. Suppose (I don’t know what the exact numbers are) today one out of every two hundred men is a Homosexual. So the number of Homosexuals is total number of men divided by 200. In the future when there will be more men (due to a deteriorating sex ratio), the number of Homosexuals will increase.

With the continuing deterioration of sex ratio (and low availability of life-partners from the opposite sex) this number will rise. Many men may have no option left but homosexuality. It is known that some men who work in military etc and are away from their partner (female) for a long time (and have never experienced sexual attraction toward the same sex) may exhibit bi-sexual and later on homosexual orientation/behavior.

While I do not think that Homosexuality is bad or incorrect, and have no issues with the number of Homosexuals going up, I do think that the number will go up for a bad reason i.e. imbalance in sex ratio.

Also, it is know fact that India is a hotbed for all kinds of crimes and atrocities committed against women. With the deterioration or sex ratio, this sort crime is going to go up.
Reversal or even decline of trends in demography take a very long time (from a couple of decades to centuries) and even if all the people stop killing the girl child from today (which can only be a miracle), it will easily be a couple of decades before the sex ratio becomes normal.



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  • http://hawkeyeindia.wordpress.com/ Apollo

    U have raised a point that is also raised in the Sachar committee report. According to the report one of the reasons for the continued increase in muslim population will be their Child sex ratio which is far better than the national average. nearly 980 females/1000 males, compared to 927 females /1000 males, which is the national average.

    U addressed the menace of the dowry problem. But there is another thing which u forgot to take account of. More and more Hindu women are entering the workforce. Once this trend accelerates and then the girl child will cease to be seen as an economic burden and this would in the long run arrest the problem of the killing of the girl child. If u see the stats the more industrialised southern and western states have better child sex ratios than the BIMARU states of the north.

  • http://hawkeyeindia.wordpress.com Apollo

    U have raised a point that is also raised in the Sachar committee report. According to the report one of the reasons for the continued increase in muslim population will be their Child sex ratio which is far better than the national average. nearly 980 females/1000 males, compared to 927 females /1000 males, which is the national average.

    U addressed the menace of the dowry problem. But there is another thing which u forgot to take account of. More and more Hindu women are entering the workforce. Once this trend accelerates and then the girl child will cease to be seen as an economic burden and this would in the long run arrest the problem of the killing of the girl child. If u see the stats the more industrialised southern and western states have better child sex ratios than the BIMARU states of the north.

  • http://stubbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ stubbfanatic

    Hello Apollo. Thanks for reading my article(s).

    – I completely overlooked the point regarding more women entering the workforce. It’s true but I am not sure about how good an impact it can have on the trend. Well I will need to pull up the data regarding this and see which rate is higher.

    – You have mentioned the term “long run”. It is possible that it may take so long that it will be too late. Already the situation is pathetic and as mentioned in my article, even if everybody stops killing the girl child now, it will (on a non-conservative estimate) take a couple of decades before the ratio reaches the point where it looks good.

    – Currently most of the industrialization (that creates jobs in bulk) is taking place (or has taken place) in the South (like I.T. companies, auto-plants etc). Probably that is a contributing factor for better sex ratios here but I am not sure if it has single-handedly improved the sex-ratios. See the child sex ratios for states like Andhra, Maharashtra and karnataka for 1991 and 2001. It is actually gone down inspite of the industrialization. But I am not trying to dismiss your point. It would be very interesting to look at the child sex ratios for the same states now or a couple of years later to see how this industrialization is affecting the trend.

    – I guess the concept of women entering the workforce is hardly affecting the trend in rural and remote areas (which still form major chunks of our population). What do you think?

    – With the thought of more and more Hindu women entering the workforce some questions comes to my mind:
    1. If more Hindu women are becoming career oriented and if this is raising the average age at which they get married and also the average age at which they decide to have a child, then it will impact the Hindu share of population negatively.
    2. Career orientation also leads to the trend to being Single (Some thing so widely observed in America). Which community is getting more affected by this trend. If a large number of such people are Hindus even if a portion of it are females then this will negatively affect the Hindu share of population. What do you think?

    Regards,

    Vivek

  • http://stubbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ stubbfanatic

    Hello Apollo. Thanks for reading my article(s).

    – I completely overlooked the point regarding more women entering the workforce. It’s true but I am not sure about how good an impact it can have on the trend. Well I will need to pull up the data regarding this and see which rate is higher.

    – You have mentioned the term “long run”. It is possible that it may take so long that it will be too late. Already the situation is pathetic and as mentioned in my article, even if everybody stops killing the girl child now, it will (on a non-conservative estimate) take a couple of decades before the ratio reaches the point where it looks good.

    – Currently most of the industrialization (that creates jobs in bulk) is taking place (or has taken place) in the South (like I.T. companies, auto-plants etc). Probably that is a contributing factor for better sex ratios here but I am not sure if it has single-handedly improved the sex-ratios. See the child sex ratios for states like Andhra, Maharashtra and karnataka for 1991 and 2001. It is actually gone down inspite of the industrialization. But I am not trying to dismiss your point. It would be very interesting to look at the child sex ratios for the same states now or a couple of years later to see how this industrialization is affecting the trend.

    – I guess the concept of women entering the workforce is hardly affecting the trend in rural and remote areas (which still form major chunks of our population). What do you think?

    – With the thought of more and more Hindu women entering the workforce some questions comes to my mind:
    1. If more Hindu women are becoming career oriented and if this is raising the average age at which they get married and also the average age at which they decide to have a child, then it will impact the Hindu share of population negatively.
    2. Career orientation also leads to the trend to being Single (Some thing so widely observed in America). Which community is getting more affected by this trend. If a large number of such people are Hindus even if a portion of it are females then this will negatively affect the Hindu share of population. What do you think?

    Regards,

    Vivek

  • http://hawkeyeindia.wordpress.com/ Apollo

    Vivek, that’s some good points. Career oriented women might prefer to marry late and since much of the killing happens in Rural areas the trend of modernisation might reach there too late to have an impact on the situation. All this would definitely mean a slump in the population growth rates of Hindus.

    The problem could be tackled in another way. By means of a mass campaign involving grassroots workers and mass media aimed at the general population saying that the Girl child will no longer be a economic burden on the family due to increasing modernisation.that they will be able to look after themselves and perhaps even support their parents during their old age. That might just help reverse the trend.

    After all everything among human beings comes down to self interest. Moral arguments never really have much impact.

  • http://hawkeyeindia.wordpress.com Apollo

    Vivek, that’s some good points. Career oriented women might prefer to marry late and since much of the killing happens in Rural areas the trend of modernisation might reach there too late to have an impact on the situation. All this would definitely mean a slump in the population growth rates of Hindus.

    The problem could be tackled in another way. By means of a mass campaign involving grassroots workers and mass media aimed at the general population saying that the Girl child will no longer be a economic burden on the family due to increasing modernisation.that they will be able to look after themselves and perhaps even support their parents during their old age. That might just help reverse the trend.

    After all everything among human beings comes down to self interest. Moral arguments never really have much impact.

  • http://stubbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ stubbfanatic

    “After all everything among human beings comes down to self interest. Moral arguments never really have much impact.”

    That’s a fair point that you have raised. But I am slightly confused here. First I would like to state that I am actually not interested in raising or maintaining the Hindu majority in India nor am I afraid of the inevitable slump that we both can foresee. I truly want to root out these evils from the Hindu society by highlighting their socio-economic impact on the country. As an indirect consequence, the slump in the Hindu percentage may not be that bad.

    With reference to the method you suggested to check the social evils, I like it and though it may seem insurmountable to undertake such an operation in a large country like India, it must be done. However, I foresee a dire consequence of this. As all the industries that provide jobs in bulk set themselves in and around major cities and towns, all our population might be motivated to pull out of villages and go to cities so that their girl gets a chance to earn and support them. If this campaign is really successful it will reduce the number of people involved in agriculture (one of the few labour-intensive works in India) in the long run.

    I say why not convert these villages into cities. Bring them facilities where they are. Make farming more profitable. Make farmers independent of Monsoon by providing artificial irrigation facilities to them. Link the rivers and make villages a safer place to live. So you see it is all taking a bigger picture and starting to encompass every thing.

    People want the money first and then they might consider investing on a girl child. The girl child may not be able to support her parents and take advantage of the industrialization if her parents don’t send her to a good school etc which requires two things:

    1. Presence of a good school in or around their village
    2. Enough money with the parents to meet their food requirements and also afford education for their child.

    Infact, tell you what: Once the rural people have good money and raised standards of living the killing will automatically stop. I don’t want to explain how? By now you should be able to catch my drift 🙂

  • http://stubbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ stubbfanatic

    “After all everything among human beings comes down to self interest. Moral arguments never really have much impact.”

    That’s a fair point that you have raised. But I am slightly confused here. First I would like to state that I am actually not interested in raising or maintaining the Hindu majority in India nor am I afraid of the inevitable slump that we both can foresee. I truly want to root out these evils from the Hindu society by highlighting their socio-economic impact on the country. As an indirect consequence, the slump in the Hindu percentage may not be that bad.

    With reference to the method you suggested to check the social evils, I like it and though it may seem insurmountable to undertake such an operation in a large country like India, it must be done. However, I foresee a dire consequence of this. As all the industries that provide jobs in bulk set themselves in and around major cities and towns, all our population might be motivated to pull out of villages and go to cities so that their girl gets a chance to earn and support them. If this campaign is really successful it will reduce the number of people involved in agriculture (one of the few labour-intensive works in India) in the long run.

    I say why not convert these villages into cities. Bring them facilities where they are. Make farming more profitable. Make farmers independent of Monsoon by providing artificial irrigation facilities to them. Link the rivers and make villages a safer place to live. So you see it is all taking a bigger picture and starting to encompass every thing.

    People want the money first and then they might consider investing on a girl child. The girl child may not be able to support her parents and take advantage of the industrialization if her parents don’t send her to a good school etc which requires two things:

    1. Presence of a good school in or around their village
    2. Enough money with the parents to meet their food requirements and also afford education for their child.

    Infact, tell you what: Once the rural people have good money and raised standards of living the killing will automatically stop. I don’t want to explain how? By now you should be able to catch my drift 🙂

  • http://hawkeyeindia.wordpress.com/ Apollo

    yes, economic progress is the key. we accumulated all these social evils in the past 1000 years when the country was being overrun by one invader after another and much progress and innovation had come to a standstill.

    According to some scholar the dowry system had its beginnings when the British started their “land reforms”. The Men then began to actually “own” the land and the women lost their traditional roles and thus their economic standing in society. They since then became more and more dependent on the male members of their family from cradle to grave.

    Once they regain their economic standing to some level i think problems like dowry, female infanticide etc… will slowly begin to disappear.

    Also i think Hindus are not as bad as the Indian secular, progressive media and intellectuals would have us believe. Infact i would go as far as to say that we have remained a democracy in a area surrounded by dictatorships because of our civilisational heritage going back to the 6th century BC when a large number of Indian states were actually republics compared to mesopotamia or China of the same period who were autocracies even then.

  • http://hawkeyeindia.wordpress.com Apollo

    yes, economic progress is the key. we accumulated all these social evils in the past 1000 years when the country was being overrun by one invader after another and much progress and innovation had come to a standstill.

    According to some scholar the dowry system had its beginnings when the British started their “land reforms”. The Men then began to actually “own” the land and the women lost their traditional roles and thus their economic standing in society. They since then became more and more dependent on the male members of their family from cradle to grave.

    Once they regain their economic standing to some level i think problems like dowry, female infanticide etc… will slowly begin to disappear.

    Also i think Hindus are not as bad as the Indian secular, progressive media and intellectuals would have us believe. Infact i would go as far as to say that we have remained a democracy in a area surrounded by dictatorships because of our civilisational heritage going back to the 6th century BC when a large number of Indian states were actually republics compared to mesopotamia or China of the same period who were autocracies even then.

  • http://stubbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ stubbfanatic

    It’s good to learn that evils like forced dowry, female infanticide are not very old concepts. I had tacitly assumed that it had existed in the Hindu community from a long time.

    “I think Hindus are not as bad as the Indian secular, progressive media and intellectuals would have us believe.”

    That’s a fair point. Actually it appears that the Media likes to make the Hindu hardliners the butt of ridicule while other are let off. However, religious hardliners and fundamentalists whether Hindu, Muslim or anyone else are very bad for a society. They create violence in name of religion and destroy the peace in lives of the common people.

    Vivek

  • http://stubbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ stubbfanatic

    It’s good to learn that evils like forced dowry, female infanticide are not very old concepts. I had tacitly assumed that it had existed in the Hindu community from a long time.

    “I think Hindus are not as bad as the Indian secular, progressive media and intellectuals would have us believe.”

    That’s a fair point. Actually it appears that the Media likes to make the Hindu hardliners the butt of ridicule while other are let off. However, religious hardliners and fundamentalists whether Hindu, Muslim or anyone else are very bad for a society. They create violence in name of religion and destroy the peace in lives of the common people.

    Vivek

  • Irshad

    your assumption “polygamy will continue to fuel their population” is incorrect. Think over it: it is the womb that is responsible for populating. Whether there is polygamy or polyandry, the number of wombs being impregnated will remain same, more so when famale population is less than male. Correct me if my logic is not ‘logical’!

  • http://stubbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ stubbfanatic

    Hello Irshad. Welcome to my blog. Your thought process is indeed logical. And after much thinking as well as some discussion, I have come to the conclusion that polygamy will not accelerate population growth provided that the sex ratio is in favor of males i.e. more number of males than females. Your point is well taken and I will updated this article after some time.

  • Anup Nair

    Hi vivek,
    went through your article, would like to add a few points from my side.
    1. Hinduism is not a religion. As defined in vedas ” Its a “sanskar”-a way of living life. Also if you have noted since ancient time we donot have anyone as such preaching hinduism, we did have likes of Ram, Kirshna but they were all there to aspire a way of ideal living.
    2. Reading the article what i felt was a more greater influence of northern Indian beliefs. I think you should have a look at the way the south Indian villages are conducted, maybe that may help you in giving a better insight as to “Why Hinduism cannot decline” But i do appreciate the point u tried to bring.

    • http://www.techblog.viveksanghi.com/ Vivek Sanghi

      Anup,

      I the modern world Hinduism is indeed a religion and part of a rats race where other religions are trying to add followers. What you are referring to is santana dharma and most of us are not really living based on the tenets of the original dharma.

      The sheer density of Hindu population is in the north esp around the indian gangetic plains. While I have to agree with your point that my views are purely based on the “Northern ” scheme of things however I think that North (and its malpractices) due to the demographical reasons has to capacity to influence the percentage of Hindus in the Indian population

  • Anup Nair

    Hi vivek,
    went through your article, would like to add a few points from my side.
    1. Hinduism is not a religion. As defined in vedas ” Its a “sanskar”-a way of living life. Also if you have noted since ancient time we donot have anyone as such preaching hinduism, we did have likes of Ram, Kirshna but they were all there to aspire a way of ideal living.
    2. Reading the article what i felt was a more greater influence of northern Indian beliefs. I think you should have a look at the way the south Indian villages are conducted, maybe that may help you in giving a better insight as to “Why Hinduism cannot decline” But i do appreciate the point u tried to bring.

  • thesosbrog

    Nice article…and a bit nit-picky from the commenter in front of me. In the global sense, Hinduism is definitely a religion.

  • http://blackbirdinapie.blogspot.com Sujan Dhar

    A very well thought out post!.. The issue of dowry bothers me a lot too… Especially when I see educated friends of mine succumbing to parental pressure.

  • http://www.varvadhuindia.com/ Indian Matrimony

    hi,
    i think hindus are not as bad as the indian secular.

    thanks

  • A woman

    Hinduism is not to blame here neither is any other religion. The problem here is the lack of education. If you educate more and more people in these parts of India where killing the female children are common I’m sure that it’ll stop. Education is the key. The reason why people are doing this is because they are uneducated and poor. They think they cannot care for a female child because when that child is grown and gets married, the in-laws will ask for dowry and since they’re poor they may not have money to pay for dowry. I say this dowry system needs to go. We’re in 2010 now.If anything the man has to pay dowry not the other way around because the man is the caretaker of the family the woman is not. The man is the one who supports the family and the men need to man up and not oppress women.

    • http://www.techblog.viveksanghi.com/ Vivek Sanghi

      It is indeed the weird way in which the religion has evolved that we have this evil admist us today. Education will not help as the dowry issue is very much an issue with the middle and upper middle class hindus as well. However thankfully they plan for it well in advance and hence do not end up killing the girl child. Even if the miscreats were highly education but poor, they would find it easier to kill the girl child rather than get her married by paying a heavy dowry later.
      (The discussion below is more about dowry than about its implications are discussed in the article)
      You say that we are in 2010 and then you put the load of care taking, Dowry etc on the man. 2010 or 21st century calls for equal sharing of financial and all other obligations from marriage to grave/separation. Modern girls must be prepared to bear their portion of this task. At the same time the men should be open minded and allow the fairer sex to do their bit.