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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Kerala’s demographic changes and Hindus

Everybody agrees that Kerala’s demography has changed drastically in the last 50 years and is undergoing further changes. However this does not mean uniform changes in the population of various religious groups in the state. Even though not openly discussed, Kerala’s demographic changes means that population of some religious groups in the state is shooting up while that of others including Nairs is falling down. Kerala’s pseudo-left intellectuals and Muslim groups have always been hostile to discussions on the religious angle of Kerala’s demographical change.

The moment one analyses the connection between religion and this lopsided demographic change one is marked as communal and termed RSS sympathizer or Savarna Nair fedualist by vested interest self proclaimed Secular groups and organized religious groups. Even the intelligentsia in Kerala attacks those who point out that Hindu and Christian population in the state are falling down and Muslim population is rising fast.

Myth of poverty as reason of population explosion

Pseudo-intellectuals spread the lie that it is poverty and lack of education which leads to population explosion and when a group achieves social and economic growth it will attain population control. But they have no answer if we point out that if poverty and absence of education are reasons for population explosion, then the population of triabls in the state should have increased several fold which has not. Muslims in Kerala are economically equal to or better than other communities as per Surveys of credible organizations. In literacy rate, and number of government employees, Muslims match with any other group in Kerala. So it is clear that reason for population explosion among some groups is not poverty but their ideological opposition to birth control.

The campaign of organized groups to silence those who say truths about demographic changes in Kerala has succeeded. The result is population of Hindus, including Nairs which was more than 61 per cent of total population of Kerala in 1961, came down to 56.1 per cent of total population by 2001 and according to unpublicized information Hindus were only 54 per cent of Kerala population in 2011. According to a report that appeared in Kalakaumudi weekly dated June 10, 2012 (Only a lucky few got copies of this magazine as the rest of the copies disappeared from stands swiftly), Muslim population was 17 per cent of total population in 1961 and it grew to 24.6 per cent by 2001. The magazine report says that by 2011 Muslim population in Kerala has grown to around 27 per cent.

In a recent article in Deccan Chronicle newspaper, K C Zachariah of Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram is quoted as saying four taluks in South Kerala district of Pathanamthitta has recorded negative population growth in 2011 census. These are Adoor, Mallapally, Kozhencherry, Ranni and Thiruvalla. Neighbouring taluks of Chengannur, Kuttanadu,Karthikappally (all in Alappuzha district), Pathanapuram in Kollam and Udumbanchola, Devikulam and Peerumedu in Idukki are heading for a negative population growth soon.

All these taluks are having a very high population of Hindus, especially Nairs and Christians. According to Zachariah by 2021the total population of Kerala which stand at 3.34 crore as per current census will either be stagnant or might have gone down.

This is unlikely to be the result of a uniform fall in population across different religious groups. This will mean population of Hindus, especially Nairs and Christians, especially Syrian Christians will fall down significantly. This fall of Hindu, Christian population will also see a sharp rise in Muslim population and change in power sharing among different communities in Kerala. It is pointed out by Zachariah that by 2030 Muslim population in Kerala would be around 33 per cent of total population. It is likely that these estimates are conservative and Muslim population in the state by 2035 will be over 35 per cent of total population.

As per Zachariah’s estimates, birth rate among Christians in Kerala is 1.2, Hindus 1.4 and Muslims 2.1. This means Hindu and Christian population will fall drastically as to maintain a stable population, birth rate should be two. Among Hindus and Christians, it is likely that the fall in population may affect, Nair, Orthodox and Mar Thoma sections.

Population changes and Power sharing

The recent demarcation of assembly constituencies in Kerala saw Hindu and Christian majority southern Kerala losing four constituencies and Muslim dominated areas in Northern Kerala adding four. This definitely means more MLAs for Muslim League in Kerala assembly. Since the total number of MLAs in Kerala assembly will remain same at 120, the decrease in four Hindu/Christian MLAs in assembly will have double effect. By the time of next reconstitution of assembly constituencies in Kerala Muslim League will have more than 30 MLAs in assembly. It is also likely that they may in 20 years become the biggest party in United Democratic Front pushing Congress to second place. This will definitely give the claim of chief minister post to League. In this situation left front may also think twice when the select their chief ministerial candidate.

League already has five ministers in Kerala cabinet and has highlighted its right for deputy CM post. For League, CM post will become its right at the current rate of its growth.

Economic, educational and social influence

It is now evident from the surveys of organizations like CDS, that more than 50 per cent of foreign remittances are by Muslims. This means Muslims have achieved economic growth in Kerala. The largest number of educational institutions and hospitals in the state are owned by Muslims and Christians. A look at the winners of medical and engineering entrances in Kerala every year show that large number of candidates from Muslim community are among winners. All these nullify the myth that Muslims are economically and educationally backward. Even as Muslims in Kerala have emerged as the most powerful group, they are still being given reservations in jobs, and several scholarships for studying .

All these points out to one thing, in a democracy, only those groups with high population will be able to influence decision making process. Even though Muslims are the biggest single group in Kerala, they get benefits of minority. None will oppose this publicly and no government would dare to remove that status.


Now how shall we remedy the disparities between different social groups in Kerala. For that Hindus especially Nairs have to become aware of the current social realities first. Right information is the key to it. With right information, we should fight for our rights making use of laws of our country and different institutions. We need to demand that family planning be made compulsory for all communities. If not, we should also reject the idea. Christian church in some places in Kerala has already announced perks for couples having a third child.

Hindus, especially Nairs need to accept more people to their fraternity. If a non Nair marries a Nair boy or a girl, they should be given membership in NSS if willing. Nairs should realize that the idea of exclusivity will be detrimental to our progress. In a democratic society one should grow by accepting more and more people to one’s group. We would be amazed to note that Mannath Padmanabhan, founder of NSS had once mooted the idea of converting others as Nairs.

Myth of danger in population rise

The idea that increasing population will negatively affect economic growth is a wrong notion. Increasing population means more youth who can work and who will buy. This means more generation of more wealth. If there is a negative population growth, it means a region will have to depend on migrants for the workforce. Europe is facing the crisis of demographic change due to migration. It is leading to social problems in countries like France, England and Germany. Increase in number of old people is creating problems in Japan. For maintaining culture and civilization of Hindus we need to maintain a controlled growth of our population.

If one group does not belive in population control and others implement population control measures, eventually the group which is against population control will conquer the whole world without a war.


  1. Sir,
    The section -Myth of danger in population rise:
    This may not be true.The natural resources on earth are limited. The more number of people,the resources are strained more.
    I would suggest that instead of quantity (numbers) alone, the quality should also matter.Instead of keep on comparing with others,
    should focus on self and improve.Instead of being employment seekers, should be employment generators.Maybe
    NSS should come up with a program for financial services - They should be able to provide seed capital to finance seekers.
    Moreover they should come up with quality man power training institutes, where in people are taught vocations.

  2. Thaks for your comment. But You have simply repeated a traditional argument while choosing not to reply to the points raised in the part, Myth of Danger in Population Rise. Yes the resources in the world are limited and unlimited rise in population will create problems. But unfortunately access to resources on this earth is not controlled by demand-supply theory.

    If resources in this world are equally distributed among people of different groups then population growth will deplete resources. However there is no socialism in this world, even in China. Here, power wielded by a group decides its access to resources. This powerful group will deny resource to the weak ones and will monopolise resources. In democracy, if one group has to get power their number should increase. Unfortunately in our democracy it is the group which has the maximum number which makes law and implements it. That is one part of my reply

    What is your opinion of the fate of ingenious whites in Germany, France, Russia etc. Their population is falling and they depend on immigration. This means Muslims who do not believe in family planning will eventually dominate Whites who don't oppose it.

    It is clear that some established theories are not valid now when the situation of the world is fast changing.

    I agree with you that Nairs should be employment generators and not seekers. NSS has an HR wing and they are now doing many things for cultivating spirit of entrepreneurship among Nairs. They help to form self help groups of Nairs to form industry and get loans from banks. They conduct seminars throughout Kerala. This blog is my own initiative. Not related to NSS though I am a Nair.

  3. Kerala's mainstream societiy rarely discuss these topics due to secular pretensions but I agree that Kerala is facing a huge demographic change and people are not noticing it .
    I will just add a fer more statistics.
    Births by religion in 2010 Hindus 45% Muslim 38% Christians 16%,
    Deaths by religion in 2010 Hindus 61% Muslims 18% Christians 20%.
    the second is a reflection of the religious breakup around 1970s and the first is a reflection of future demography going forward.
    Again in 2001 though Hindu population was 56% population of Hindus in the below 6 category was only 50%.
    Malappuram was a 50% muslim district in 1950s now it is 70% muslim in 2001
    The increase of the muslim population as a percentage will accelerate in the next 2 decades as Hindus marry late and have children later , (muslims are trying to marriageable age below 18), muslims have reached a critical mass and migratory trends of Hindus and Christians are more.

    I disagree that this a reflection of only Nair and Syrian Christians as nowadays almost all hindus have either 1 or 2 child only pushing them well below replacement fertility levels.

    I think that there is nothing which can be done to arrest this trend as nobody can force a liberal , progressive community to have children. With increased cost of living and increasing emphasis on quality of life among these communities nothing can be done to stop this trend.

    Just wait for the inevitable to happen

  4. A really analytical article. I am a non resident Malayalee & regularly visit Kerala. Though I am not a statistician, I can narrate some trends which are visible over the past 30 years:-
    1) Muslims who were few in Central Kerala are increasing numerically there. Christians are declining & Hindus are somewhat steady. But the point to note is that Hindus & Christians are more elderly compared to the much younger Muslims.
    2) Burqas were less visible in the past & Muslim women used to wear a white scarf/towel on their heads. But now Burqas are very visible particularly in North Kerala & Cochin.
    3) Lots of migrants from Bengal, Assam & Orissa are living in Kerala. Their religious profile is not clear & they are usually missed out by census officials.
    Statistically there seems to be a high probability that within the next 30 years, Muslims will become the most dominant political, economic & demographic force in Kerala.