Media reports on study about Muslim population in India misleading: PFI

The Population Foundation of India  (PFI) has recently scrutinized media reports concerning a study purportedly highlighting demographic trends within India’s Muslim population. According to the PFI, these reports are misleading and require closer examination to unveil potential biases or inaccuracies.

Amidst a wave of media coverage and comments from political leaders regarding the growth of the Muslim population, the Population Foundation of India (PFI) has raised its concerns against what it deems as “misleading” and “inaccurate” reporting.

On Wednesday, several news outlets reported on a study titled “Share of Religious Minorities: A Cross-Country Analysis (1950-2015)” released by the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (PM-EAC) on the changes in the share of the population of religious minorities in 167 countries spanning over six decades.

The dominant headline across most publications emphasized a shift in India’s demographic landscape, stating that the Muslim population’s share increased from 9.84 per cent in 1950 to 14.09 per cent in 2015, marking a significant 43.15 per cent rise. In contrast, the share of India’s Hindu population declined from 84.68 per cent to 78.06 per cent over the same period, a 7.82 per cent decrease.

The paper strikingly claimed that for India, while the share in the population of Muslims increased by 43.15% in this time period, the share in the population of Hindus decreased by 7.82%, adding that in 1950, Hindus’ share in the population was 84.68%, coming down to 78.06% in 2015. Similarly, Muslims’ share in the population had risen from 9.84% to 14.09%.

The last Census of India was conducted in 2011 with the government indefinitely delaying the 2021 Census. The 2011 Census had counted 96.63 crore Hindus — 79.8% of the population and 17.22 crore Muslims — 14.2% of the population in the country at the time.

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