The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Analysis bungle blows up on census

New Delhi, Sept. 8: Criticism that the Census Commission had erred in projecting the growth rate of Muslims over the last decade has pushed the population monitor into damage-control mode.

The commission has put sale of copies of the census report on hold but has not been able to take a firm decision on how to wriggle out of the controversy and rectify the mistake in the analysis section.

The Census Commission had on Monday released its report on population and distribution of religious groups and declared that Muslims grew at a rate of 36 per cent over 1991-2001 and Hindus at 20.5 per cent.

The figures disclosed by the commission represented an increase from the 34.5 per cent growth in Muslim population in 1981-91 and a fall for Hindus from 25.1 per cent.

However, when the commission calculated the growth rate, its officials did not take into consideration that census was not conducted in Jammu and Kashmir in 1991. As a result, the state's 66 lakh Muslims ' counted in 2001 ' were treated as an addition to the minority community population.

Similarly, there was no census in Assam in 1981. Demographers point out that the figures for Assam should also be kept out when comparisons are made.

Demographer Ashish Bose ' one of the first to spot the census error ' said 'it was a careless mistake'.

If the Jammu and Kashmir and Assam data is left out, the new figures will reveal that the growth rate of Muslims had declined steeper than that of Hindus. The Muslim growth rate would then have come down by around four points from 32.9 per cent during 1981-91 to 29.3 per cent during the last decade. The Hindu growth rate would have showed a fall of nearly three points, from 22.8 per cent to 20 per cent.

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