By Arul Louis
Hindus in India are projected to grow to almost 1.3 billion by 2050 in a total population of nearly 1.7 billion even though their percentage in the nation’s population is expected to decline by 2.8 percent — from 79.5 percent in 2010 to 76.7 percent in 2050, according to a report by the Pew Research Center (PRC).
India’s Hindu population, which was 973.75 million in 2010, is expected to grow by 324.21 million to 1,297.96 million — or 1.298 billion — in 2050, the report released on Thursday said.
PRC projected the share of Muslims in India’s total population to grow by 4 percent from 14.4 percent in 2010 to 18.4 percent in 2050 as their numbers increase from 176.2 million to 310.66 million — an increase of 134.46 million during the 40 years.
This will also make India’s Muslim population the largest of any country by 2050, outstripping Indonesia’s 256.82 million Muslims and Pakistan’s 273.11 million
The share of Christians in India’s total population during the period is projected by PRC to decrease by 0.3 percent, from 2.5 percent in 2010 to 2.2 percent in 2050. The number of Christians is likely to increase by 5.61 million, from 31.13 million in 2010 to 36.74 million in 2050.
The Washington-based research organisation, which studies population trends and public opinion around the world, expected a dramatic rise in the percentage of the Hindu population in the US, from 0.6 percent in 2010 to 1.2 percent in 2050. As for numbers, the US Hindu population is projected to grow from 1.79 million in 2010 to 4.78 million in 2050. This will make the US Hindu population the fifth largest in the world.
PRC’s report, “The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050,” said that globally the Hindu population was expected to increase from 1 billion in 2010 to 1.4 billion by 2050, making it the third largest group after the Christians and Muslims.
According to the report, the “unaffiliated” — a grouping that includes agnostics, atheists and those with no formal religious identification — which formed the third largest group in 2010 was expected to decline from 1.131 billion in 2010 to 1.23 billion by 2050, allowing Hindus to move up to the third spot.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Hindus constituted the largest religion in 2010, numbering 1.024 billion. But by 2050, PRC said, Hinduism is to have 1.369 billion adherents in the region while Islam’s followers are expected to grow from 986.42 million in 2010 to 1.45772 billion in 2050.
The PRC based the projections on several factors, including fertility and age distribution of the different religious groups in various regions.
“The annual growth rate of Hindus is expected to remain roughly on par with world population growth through 2030-2035, after which it is projected to drop below the worldwide level,” PRC said. “By 2045, Hindus are expected to be growing by about 0.2 percent annually, or roughly half as fast as the global population overall, largely as a result of declining fertility rates in India.”
Globally, Islam is projected by PRC to be the fastest growing religion, increasing from 1.599 billion in 2010 to 2.761 billion in 2050, almost catching up with Christianity’s 2.198 billion.
Christians’ share of the world population is expected to hold steady at 31.4 percent during the 40-year period, while Muslim’s share is expected to increase from 23.2 percent in 2010 to 29.7 percent by 2050, the report said.