The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

B'deshis posing as Christians to evade detection: NCM

Author: UNI
Publication: Sentinel Assam
Date: February 15, 2005

NE Christian population up

Illegal migrants from Bangladesh reporting as Christians and conversions had led to a high growth rate among the Christian population in the North-east in the last decade, according to the expert committee of the National Commission for Minorities.

However, an analysis showed that the overall proportion of Christians in the country was static during the last two decades.

Against the national growth rate of 22.6 per cent by Christians, Nagaland reported 69.2 per cent growth, while it was 56.3 per cent in Gujarat, 34.8 per cent in Orissa, 42.1 per cent in Meghalaya, 32.5 per cent in Chatttisgarh, 34.3 per cent in West Bengal, 30 in Punjab and 30.7 in Mizoram, the panel said.

However, Kerala, which accounted for the largest share of Christians in the country, registered only 7.8 per cent growth while Andhra Pradesh reported minus growth (-2.8).

According to the report, presented by panel chief Prof Ashish Bose here today before Christian leaders, there was a possibility that Muslims who had illegally migrated from Bangladesh had reported their religion as Christianity, ‘guided by survival strategy and adverse economic conditions.’ Also, tribals listed under other religions in the past census had this time opted to register as Christians.

"Our analysis data on religion in the North-east leads to some intriguing questions about the role of illegal migration and also the role of conversion to Christianity. In Tripura, for example, during 1991-2001, the Hindu population grew by 15 per cent while the Christian population grew by 121 per cent. There is no evidence that there is large-scale migration of Christians from Bangladesh. This will make conversion a dominant factor explaining the high growth rate figures of Christians," the report said.

While analysing the data on Assam, the report said: "The possibility of some forced conversion to Christianity by militant groups cannot be ruled out."

In Gujarat too the growth could not be explained by a ‘natural increase’, the report said. "Are Christians from other States of India migrating in large numbers to Gujarat? If not, conversion seems to be the dominant factor," Prof Bose said in his presentation.

However, the increase in these States was minimal and "not alarming at all," he said.

The total population of Christians in Gujarat was 2.84 lakh, forming just 0.6 per cent of the total population, though the growth rate was 56.3 per cent. Likewise, in Nagaland, only 7.32 lakh Christians were added in the last decade, though Christians formed 90 per cent of the population.

The report also noted that the overall proportion of Christians in India was the same for the last two decades at 2.3 per cent of the population, rising to 24.1 million in 2001 from 19.6 million in 1991.

Though Christians were spread mainly in eight States, 50 per cent of them lived in four States — Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Despite the high growth rate, the North-east accounted for just 25 per cent of the country’s total Christian population.

Besides Prof Bose, the expert committee members were Prof P M Kulkarni of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, Prof Mari Bhat of the Institute of Economic Growth and Prof T K Roy, former director of the International Institute of Population Sciences, Mumbai.


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