Half of the Country’s Christian population lives in Southern India
The Indian Government has released the most basic of census figures: the religious composition of the population. Nearly half of the Country’s Christian population lives in South India, shows the Census 2011 released on Tuesday. The five Southern States -Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh including Telangana — account for 1.28 crore (46%) of India's 2.78 crore-strong Christian community. The percentage of Christians in the total population has dipped slightly from 2.34% in 2001 to 2.29% in 2011.
North Eastern States & Goa
With seven North Eastern States accounting for 28.1% of the Christian population and Goa for another 1.3%, the rest of the country is home to less than 25% of the total Christians in the country. Kerala alone is home to 22.07% of the total Christians in the country, followed by Tamil Nadu with 15.88%.
In the Indian State of Odisha, the growth rate in Christian population has made a quantum jump by 478 % in past 50 years. Among three dominant religions, it has increased from 2.01 lakh in 1961 to 11.61 lakh in 2011 – a growth of 478 %. Sundargarh District in Odisha is having highest Christian population followed by Gajapati and Kandhamal Districts.
Analysts say there are many reasons why the Christian population is concentrated in the South. "The First Apostle, St Thomas, arrived in Kerala and travelled to Tamil Nadu. Christians have always considered the southern states as their own and they are one with the culture of these states," said analyst Bernard Samy. A Christian in Tamil Nadu speaks the local language and has adopted the local culture, thereby living in harmony with all other religions, he said.
Education also plays a major role in Christians making south their home, he said. "There are several educational institutions managed by the church and individuals from the community. These institutions employ many from the community and they form part of the State's population," Samy said.
Professor at the International Institute of Population Sciences, Dr. P. Arokiasamy said there are historical reasons for high number of Christians in the Southern India. "The presence of centuries-old Christian institutions in education and health sectors is a big factor. All the Southern States have their share of centuries-old Christian institutions," said Arokiasamy. The fall in proportion of Christians in the total population is attributed to fall in fertility rate. "The fertility rate of Christians started falling much earlier than other religions and thus the population growth is minimal or has declined in some parts of the country," Arokiasamy said. The main reason is delayed marriage, he said.
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