India is the birth-place of four major religions’Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. The most dominant religion, however, is Hinduism. ‘Hindustan’, the land of the Hindus is one of the names by which India is known. Christianity and Islam came to India from other lands. Syrian Christians appeared on the West Coast of India in the very first century of the Christian Era. The Arab traders brought Islam to the West Coast of India much before the Muslim conquest of this country. Sikhism appeared on the religious scene of India only about five centuries ago.
According to 2001 censuses, Hinduism accounts for the largest part of the Indian population. There were 82 5.58 million Hindus in India which was 80.5% of the total population of the country. Hindus of India constituted 12% of world’s population, ranking below those professing Christianity and equal with the followers of Islam.
If we examine the percentage of Hindus to total population by districts, it becomes quite clear that except the peripheral areas and a few pockets in the interior of the country, Hindus are the dominant religious group everywhere. The state level analysis reveals that the proportion of Hindus in total population is highest in Himachal Pradesh (95.4 per cent) and lowest in Mizoram (3.6 per cent). It is higher than the national average in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Tripura, while it is much lower in northeastern states, J & K, and Punjab.
Muslims constitute the second largest religious group after Hindus. According to 2001 census, Muslim population numbered 138.19 million which accounted for 12.1% of the country’s total population. The major areas of Muslim concentration are situated in the Kashmir Valley, parts of the upper Ganga Plain, a number of districts in West Bengal and Bihar and a few pockets in Haryana and Rajasthan. Among the states, Uttar Pradesh has the largest number of 30.7 million Muslims (2001). This is followed by Wes t Bengal (20.2 million) and Bihar (13.7 million). The proportion of Muslim population to total population ranges from 1.1 per cent in Mizoram to 67 per cent in Jammu & Kashmir (2001) and 95.5 per cent in Lakshadweep. The proportion is higher than the national average in Assam, Bihar (including Jharkhand), Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh (including Uttarakhand) and West Bengal.
According to 2001 census figures there are 24 million Christians living in India. Christians formed just 1.6% of Indian population in 1941 but it rose to 2.3% in 1951 perhaps due to partition of the sub-continent. In 1971, there were 2.6% Christians in India which fell slightly to 2.4% in 1981 and to 2.3% in 2001. e north-eastern states are predominantly inhabited by Christians. For example, Christians constitute 90% in Nagaland, 87% in Mizoram 70% in Meghalaya and 34% in Manipur. Christians are in large proportion in Goa and Kerala where they form 26.7 and 19.0% of the total population respectively. But speaking in absolute figures, Kerala has the largest number of Christians where their total population in 6 millions. After Kerala, the important states with Christian population are Tamil Nadu (3.7 million), Andhra Pradesh (1.1 million), Karnataka, Bihar, Mizoram and Goa.
There are 19.2 million Sikhs according to 2001 census figures. This amounts to 1.9% of the total population of India. While there is no part in India where the Sikhs are not represented, their major concentration is seen in Punjab and neighbouring districts of Haryana. This is obvious because Sikh is m arose from the soil of Punjab as a consequence of the teachings of Guru Nanak. At present, Sikhs account for 59.9% of the total population of Punjab. Out of 19.2 million Sikhs of the country, 14.6 million (76 per cent) are in Punjab alone. Minor pockets of Sikh concentration are found in the Tarai region of Uttarakhand, Ganganagar, Alwar and Bharatpur districts of Rajasthan.
India’s 7.95 million Buddhists are largely found in Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh and the Ladakh District of J&K. They are also found to a lesser extent in Mizoram, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh. The concentration of Buddhists in the northern part of India is mainly because it is near here that the Buddhism originated and spread over the Himalayas. Maharashtra accounts for 67% of the total Buddhist population of India, though it is only 6.9% of the total population of the state. Sikkim’s 1.5 lakh Buddhists, however, give this state the largest proportion of Buddhists in the country, 28% of its total population.
4.2 million Jains of India are widely spread in the western parts of the country. Maharashtra (1.5 million), Gujarat (5.2 lakh) and Rajasthan (6.5 lakh) are important stages. But nowhere they form more than 6% of the population. An interesting feature of the Jains is that their majority lives in urban areas.
About one million Parsis, Zoroastrians by religion, are the smallest religious group and form just 0.4% of the population of India. About 90% of this community is concentrated in the city of Mumbai and the southern coastal Gujarat, around Surat.
The population of India on the basis of their productive work is divided into three groups, viz., main workers, marginal workers and non-workers.
The Census of India, 1981 recognised an individual as a main worker if he was engaged in any economically gainful work for a period of 183 days in a year. In 2001 census, main workers are deed as those workers who had worked for the major part of the reference period (i.e. 6 months or more). The 2011 Census has defined the main worker as ‘any person who had participated in any economic productive activity for six months or more during the last one year preceding the date of enumeration’.
Those workers who put in a lesser number of days (less than 183 days) in the year were classified as marginal workers. In 2001 census, the marginal workers are deed as those workers who had not worked for the major part of the reference period (i.e. less than 6 months). According to 2011 census. ‘If a person has participated in any economic productive activity for less than six months during the last one year preceding the date of enumeration is deed as marginal worker’.
Non-worker is one who does not work for earning his/her livelihood at any time during the year. According to 2011 Census
‘ A person who did not work at all during the reference period was treated as non-worker’
The proportion of workers in a population is expressed by a rate called participation rate. It shows the proportion of workers (main worker + marginal workers) in the total population in percentage. Participation rates may be calculated for males and females separately. In India, 30.4 per cent of the people are main workers, 8.7 per cent marginal workers, and 60.9 per cent non-workers. Thus, there is high dependency rate in Indi a. It reects an underdeveloped state of economy which means large scale underemployment and unemployment.
Participation rate increased from 37.5 per cent in 1991 to 39.1 per cent in 2001. This increase in an indicator of slight improvement in employment opportunities and loosening of social sligana attached to mannual work.