Kerala: Number of Muslim births overtook number of Hindu births in 2016

A small minority has already noticed that the number of Muslim births in Kerala has been catching up with the number of Hindu births: as discussed in few articles (see link 1, link 2, link 3) and in an insightful book by S.R. Swaroop, as promoted by yugaparivartan, on which I will comment later on in this article.

However, NONE of these sources predicted the shocker that was to come in 2016: that was the year when Muslim births overtook Hindu births in Kerala: pessimistic Hindu expectations turned out to be insufficiently pessimistic. Perhaps even more surprisingly, this information has been publicly available since around September of 2017, and yet hardly discussed, even in Hindutva circles. Presumably, even most Hindutvavadis are unaware of this.

The data presented here

The statistics discussed here come from the following sources:

(i) For the number and percentages of births: the Vital Statistics Report produced by the Department of Economics and Statistics, Government of Kerala.

(ii) For the population percentages: Census 2011 and 2001 of the Government of Bharat.

(iii) For fertility rates: National Family Health Surveys (NFHS)

(i) and (ii) are as reliable as they get. (iii) indeed depends on the statistical methodology of NFHS, but it is a large well-accepted governmental survey.

Background – why the reversal of 2016 seems surprising

According to the 2011 census, Hindus constituted 54.73% of Kerala and Muslims 26.56% (the Christian share was 18.38%). These percentages were 56.20 and 24.70 in the 2001 census. A quick, naive look at these numbers might suggest that there is no drastic demographic shift happening. There still are more than twice as many Hindus as Muslims in Kerala, which is why the factoid mentioned in the title comes as a tremendous surprise.

Muslims overtake Hindus in Kerala births: the data

So, here is the data alluded to in the title, and more: The number of Hindu and Muslim births in Kerala between 2007 and 2016 (except 2012 when a lot of both Hindu and Muslim births seem to have been counted as “Others”), as recorded in the Vital Statistics Report of the Department of Economics and Statistics, Government of Kerala, has been available on wikipedia for a while, and it has been reproduced as follows:

Year No. of Hindu Births No. of Muslim Births % of Hindu Births

% of Muslim Births

2016

207,831 211,182 41.88 42.55
2015 221,220 213,865 42.87 41.45
2014 231,031 218,437 43.23 40.87
2013 236,420 214,257 44.08 39.96
2011 248,610 214,099 44.37 38.21
2010 246,297 209,276 45.03 38.26
2009 247,707 204,711 45.51 37.61
2008 241,305 194,583 45.04 36.32
2007 250,094 183,796 45.88

33.71

The report for 2017 will only become available later this year. The following trends are clear from the table:

  1. The main point: throughout the period, the number of Muslim births has been steadily catching up, and has already overtaken in 2016. Based on the trends, it is certain that the gap between Muslim and Hindu births in Kerala is set to increase further, setting Kerala on a course to becoming a Muslim majority state (e.g., in 30 years, there will be many more Muslim youth than Hindu youth).
  2. Somewhere between 2007 and 2011, the number of Hindu births peaked, and has been declining since then, while the number of Muslim births may possibly have peaked in 2014 but we cannot yet be sure of that.
  3. The year-on-year fall in Hindu births has been accelerating: about 5400 fewer Hindu births in 2014 than in 2013, about 10200 fewer in 2015 than in 2014, and about 13400 fewer in 2016 than in 2015.

Fertility rates

A brief comment on Total Fertility Rate (TFR), a statistical construct that seeks to capture the number of children a woman will have over life time. As mentioned earlier, these fertility rates are from NFHS surveys 2-4: these are less reliable than the previous figures since they are statistically extrapolated from samples.

Survey

Year Hindu TFR Muslim TFR Christian TFR
NFHS-4 2015-16 1.42 1.86 1.51
NFHS-3 2005-06 1.53 2.46 “2.11”

(skipping a caveat here)

NFHS-2 1998-99 1.64 2.46

1.88

These reports suggest that Muslim TFR in Kerala remained almost constant between 1998-99 and 2005-06, but dipped by 2015-16, to a level that is still considerably above the Hindu and Christian levels, a level still considerably above what the Hindu TFR was in 1998-99!

A little bit more of discussion, this time sociological, on Kerala’s low Hindu TFR

The “replacement level TFR” is generally considered to be 2.1 – below that, the population will start to shrink eventually (replacement level TFR would have been 2 if there were no infant mortality and everyone who was born married, etc.). Japan and Germany have a low TFR of around 1.4 each (2016) or 1.5 each (2015), and many other European nations too have low TFRs such as around 1.8 for the United Kingdom and around 1.7 for Netherlands (in both 2015 and 2016) etc.

Most of these developed societies now consider their low TFRs to be a problem, since it leads to an ageing and shrinking population, and an even more rapidly shrinking working population which has to support the rest. European nations try to redress some of these issues by getting migrants (which leads to other problems), while Japan’s efforts to bring up the TFR without migration have not been successful.

It is in this context that we should examine Kerala’s low Hindu TFR – at 1.42, it is below those of Netherlands and United Kingdom, and comparable to those of Germany and Japan, without any of the development of these nations! While those countries are somehow trying to get their TFR up, most of us still think that our population is a problem – no, it is set to decline disastrously in many parts of the country (especially badly among the Hindus of Kerala)! This, in spite of the fact that our country is more or less self-sufficient in food-grains notwithstanding low agricultural productivity. This is the kind of problem that arises when we accept leftist superstitions without questioning.

Comparison with Swaroop’s book – `paranoid Hindu estimates’ are still optimistic!

Earlier in this post I had mentioned about Swaroop’s book which comprehensively discusses Bharatiya population trends. As I was reading the book (which I strongly recommend that you do too), I assumed his estimates to be on the pessimistic side; after all, one might naively expect a pro-Hindu book to overstate the case so as to goad others into action. Yet, as per Swaroop’s projection for Kerala, 2016 is well before Muslim births were expected to overtake Hindu births, whereas we now know that they have already overtaken Hindu births in 2016, just five years from 2011.

To be fair, Swaroop does anticipate in his book that his projections are over-optimistic: he states a number of simplifying assumptions for his calculations, and these assumptions are all optimistic-for-Hindus, so he did expect reality to be worse than he predicted. And he was right! Nevertheless, he also expected that his assumptions wouldn’t be way off, so even a person reading Swaroop’s book would not quite have expected this shocker. Perhaps, part of the reason is that Swaroop did not draw in from the data of the Kerala Government, which gives finer, year-by-year reports.

Misleading media reports

Let us briefly comment on how issues concerning population growth have been presented in the media in a way that not only hid all the above trends, but also likely misled readers into imagining unrealistically Hindu-friendly scenarios, counter to what the numbers above show, almost as if they want to lull Hindus into complacency:

  1. Many reports merely state the percentage share of each religion, some times a decadal rate of growth, and claim estimates for future without links to back them up. These are basically useless: for instance, Hindu population being double that of Muslims in Kerala in no way helps us guess the data discussed above.
  2. An article in The Hindu by Rukmini Srinivasan and Vijaita Singh, says “In Kerala, for instance, the Muslim fertility rate (while higher than among the Hindus) is extremely low, especially compared with all communities in the northern States, he said.” This cleverly hides the fact that Hindu fertility rate in Kerala had plummeted to far lower rates, and no one who read this article would imagine that Kerala was a state with twice as many Hindus as Muslims, and yet producing fewer Hindu kids. Also note the misleading headline, “Muslim population growth slows”: Hindu population growth slowed even further, and in a far worse way (as Swaroop’s book notes to be happening consistently across Bharat, district by district, and through every point of time in the recent past, consistently and consistently worsening).
  3. Here is a Times of India article reporting on the NFHS-4 (2015-16) survey mentioned above, headlined “State key to fertility rates, not religion: Govt data”, which does a similar trick as that which Rukmini Srinivasan and Vijaita Singh do. Comparing something like Kerala Muslim TFR with Bihar Hindu TFR is pointless (Kerala to Bihar is a different comparison altogether, a different issue, and I don’t think anyone is alarmed about it).
  4. A far better article is actually Salman Anees Soz’s in The Wire(!). It presents facts which naive readers are ill-equipped to figure as alarming, and in that limited sense hides the problem, but at least it stops short of the misleading obfuscation the above two articles resort to.
  5. Here is a misleading Firstpost report from earlier this year, which still believes that NFHS-3 is “latest” as of January 2018, though NFHS-4 was already available in 2017. It says “Hindu and Muslim fertility rates are falling at an equal pace, data shows.” The reference is to the difference in TFR between Hindus and Muslims remaining constant: but in fact, the way “compound interest” works, this means that the Muslim population share growth will accelerate, in analogy with the fact that 2/1 is greater than 3/2 which is greater than 4/3 (see Chapter 3 of Swaroop’s book for a detailed explanation).

Some morals/things to ponder

Sorry folks, I am not going to discuss in this article whether or not a Muslim majority Bharat would still be secular. I would like to restrict the present article mostly to facts, and also a little bit about obfuscation in the presentation of facts. Here are nevertheless some “morals” of this discussion, on how to interpret or discuss data on population trends:

  1. Percentage population shares of various religions are useless, as we saw in the case of Kerala above, and more or less so are decadal or annual rates of growth. A far better data source is population separated by religion and age-group, which is the basis of calculations in Swaroop’s book. Look especially for statistics on the 0-4 age group.
  2. Don’t make naive guesses without calculation: populations work somewhat like compound interests albeit with changing rates, and humans don’t have an intuition for those functions. Human intuition produces guesses which are over-optimistic for Hindus.
  3. Muslim fertility rate is indeed dropping, just that so is Hindu fertility rate, that too in such a way that Muslim population share is not only increasing, but also that rate of increase is accelerating. Swaroop in his book observes the eerie consistency of this phenomenon in his book across regions and age-groups in Bharat: to put it slightly differently, the more the Muslim population share, the more its rate of increase too, which also implies that the rate of increase itself increases with respect to time.
  4. There is nothing in the data that shows a concerted Muslim effort to increase their population (though of course data cannot disprove such an assertion either). Kerala’s Hindu demographic implosion is largely driven by Hindus choosing to not have children. It may well be the case that Hindus have been done in by family planning and unscientific leftist myths on population explosion that Hindus, being Hindus, swallowed unquestioningly. If you are a Hindu who thinks a one or two child policy can save Sanatan Dharma, think again: this time without assuming that it is going to be uniformly implemented (you can’t even rule out Supreme Court making an exception for minorities). You may be harming your case by being idealistic and without your ears to the ground.
  5. A related point that doesn’t belong to this article proper, but presented to qualify the above point – Swaroop’s book observes that trends in increase in Muslim population share seems to be uniform across Bharat, district by district, slightly calling into question claims that the differences can be explained by economy alone.
  6. Christian fertility rates in Kerala are only slightly above that of Hindus, their number of births peaked in 2012 (see the wikipedia link given above). Even as of 1971 census, there were more Christians than Muslims in Kerala.
  7. As a Yugaparivartan quote from Swaroop’s book goes, “Demography changes slowly and then suddenly hits you in your face.” This is not so much a moral or sociological statement, it is more or less a mathematical statement: the reason Hindus will continue to be majority for a while is that much of the contribution to their population comes from older people; Kerala’s 54.07% Hindus to 26.6% Muslims according to the 2011 census is because of more old people among Hindus. Much before Muslims become a majority in Kerala, the youth of Kerala will have become Muslim majority. I repeat that quote: “Demography changes slowly and then suddenly hits you in your face” – one suddenly realizes that one is minority, and then there is pretty much nothing one can do about it, because the difference is far more pronounced among the youth.
  8. Don’t take mainstream experts’ statements about statistics and estimates seriously: their statistics are usually correct, but the key always lies in what they don’t say, the fact that they present irrelevant distractions (like Kerala Muslim TFR vs U.P. Hindu TFR) to take your attention away. As for their estimates, try to get it independently confirmed, e.g., by your own calculations. Their obfuscations and choices of what they wish to say or not certainly suggest that they have agendas.

Let me close by adding that, while the lack of discussion on this topic among Hindus is not so puzzling, the same attitude among Hindutva-supporters really is.

(Featured Image source)


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