This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com
Muslims in Assam and West Bengal, Hindus in Punjab—that’s the concentration of leading districts of growth of the two major religious communities in India. This, and four other takeaways, from a parsing of census religion data for the 529 districts—out of 640 in all—whose boundaries did not change between 2001 and 2011.
High share growth among Muslim and Hindu are studies in contrast
Of the top 20 districts where the Muslim share increased the most, nine were in Assam or West Bengal, two of the five states that share a boundary with Bangladesh. Punjab, with eight districts, led in gains in Hindu share. Also, in general, the top 10 districts in this Muslim set are less prosperous and face greater employment challenges than the Hindu set.
Sex ratios are improving more in urban areas than in rural
Sex ratios have improved more in urban areas than rural areas across religions, indicating that women and families are participating more in the urbanization and migration journeys. Sex ratios of Muslims were better than those of Hindus in both urban and rural areas in 2001, and have remained so in 2011. And, Sikhs still have the worst sex ratio and Christians the best.
Every religion has seen sharp losses in certain districts
All religions have seen their numbers decline in certain districts from our set of 529 districts. At one end are Hindus and Muslims, for whom the share of such districts is in single digits. At the other end are Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains, for whom the share of such districts is around 40%.
Hindu minority in select states is gaining share
The usual narrative is that of a minority—usually Muslim—gaining share in a Hindu majority state. The opposite is also seen: Hindu gaining share in states where it is the minority religion, notably in Punjab and in Jammu and Kashmir.
Districts hit by Hindu-Muslim violence have not seen Muslim migration
The period between these two census exercises saw Hindu-Muslim communal violence in several Hindu-majority districts, notably in Gujarat in 2002 and in Uttar Pradesh. However, barring Gorakhpur, the numbers are largely in line with overall patterns.
Data source: Census 2001 and Census 2011