Bhagwat Refers to 'Religion-Based Population Imbalance', But How True Is That?

As per a Pew report, migration & conversions have had a relatively small impact on the religious composition.

4 min read
Hindi Female

In his Vijayadashmi speech at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur on Wednesday, 5 October, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat called for a “comprehensive population control policy” that applies “equally” to everyone.

He also asked people to be careful about "religion-based population imbalance" and claimed that the phenomenon led to creation of new countries such as East Timor, South Sudan and Kosovo.

(Bhagwat's statements can be heard from the 2:17:00 minute mark.)

“We have suffered because of the population imbalance 50 years ago and it's not just us, countries like East Timor, South Sudan and Kosovo have emerged in the 21st century as a result of population imbalance caused by religion."
Mohan Bhagwat, RSS Cheif

He further claimed that population imbalance leads to changes in geographical boundaries, and added that the differences in birth rate (fertility rate), conversions by force, lure or greed, and infiltration are also big reasons behind it.



According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data, the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has been decreasing in India – 3.4 in 1992-93 (NFHS-1) to 1.6 in 2019-21(NFHS-5).

TFR is defined as the average number of children a woman will have by the time she ends childbearing.

Every religious group in the country has seen a fall in TFR, including the Muslim population. Although the rate of fertility is the highest among Muslims, but over the years, it has been steadily declining.

The TFR in the Muslim community decreased from 4.41 in 1992-93 to 2.3 in the latest report, while that in the Hindu community decreased from 3.3 in NFHS-1 to 1.94 in NFHS-5.

NFHS-5 has found that the Christian community has a fertility rate of 1.88 and the Sikh community 1.6, coming down from 2.87 and 2.43 in NFHS-1.

According to the census data, collated and published in the Handbook on Social Welfare Statistics 2018, Hindus made up 79.8 percent of India population in the 2011 census. That is a fall of 4.3 percentage points from the 84.1 percent population recorded in the 1951 census.

The Muslim population has increased by 4.4 percentage points since 1951 from 9.4 to 14.2 percent. The population of the remaining major religions – Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains – were relatively stable from 1951 to 2011.

If we look at the decadal growth rate of the Hindu population slowed from 19.92 percent between 1991 and 2001 to 16.76 percent between 2001 and 2011.

During the same time period, the decadal growth rate of the Muslim population fell sharply, from 29.52 percent to 24.6 percent.

Moreover, the fertility gap between Hindu and Muslim communities has narrowed in the last two decades. The fertility gap in NFHS-1 was 33.6 percent and the latest NFHS data shows that this gap has narrowed to 21.65 precent in 2019-21.

To explain further, the NFHS-1 survey had found that Muslim women produced 1.1 more children than Hindu women, while the latest survey reduced the difference to 0.42 children per woman.



According a Pew report released in June 2021, migration and conversions have had a relatively small impact on the religious composition of the country. The report stated that 99 percent of people who live in India were also born in India and it added that religious minorities are more likely than Hindus to leave.

It also added that 98 percent of Indian adults identified with the same religion that they were raised.

The report also states it's not just religion but other factors like education, socio-economic conditions and location of women that affects the fertility rate.

It added that women in India with lower education levels tend to have more children because the years of higher education coincide with the childbearing years.

Similarly, economic backgrounds combined with their geographical locations also impacted the number of children women had. Indian Muslims coming from poor household gave birth to more children, but those in urban areas and better earnings had lower birth rates.

Another reason for increased fertility in some sections of the society is sex selection at birth. Women and families tend to have more children hoping for a male child or have sex-selective abortions to have a male child.

The report stated that the practice of sex-selective abortion was practiced more in Indian Hindus than Muslims and Christians.


While Bhagwat didn't attribute the alleged population imbalance to one religion, he and other leaders ascribing to the right-wing ideology have claimed in the past that the Muslim population in India may replace the Hindu population and become the majority.

Several ministers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) such as Giriraj Singh, Kiren Rijiju and members of the Shiv Sena have made similar claims.

However, a Pew research from 2015 predicted that India’s Muslim community will expand faster than its Hindu population, rising from 14.4 percent in 2010 to 18.4 percent in 2050. However, despite the increase, "Hindus will make up more than three-in-four Indians (76.7 percent) in 2050."

The Sachar Committee Report, published in 2006 by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, also stated that the Muslim proportion will achieve replacement fertility and stabilise at under 20 percent of the population of India by 2100.

Clearly, data shows that no religious minority is likely to outnumber Hindus. Further, his claim about conversion and migration causing a "population imbalance" also has no empirical evidence.


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