Census 2011 is in progress. This is seventh census since independence. After independence, it was in 1951 when for the first time census was conducted which showed how many people from both the countries had migrated from one another as a result of partition. However, in context of the creation of Pakistan, Hindu population from Pakistan had come to India, and Muslim population from India had migrated to Pakistan.
Hence, we cannot say precisely how many Muslims had migrated from India to Pakistan. When the census was conducted for the second time in independent India in 1961, the process of reorganisation of states had been completed and the system of our governance was almost in control and the dimension of discussions regarding the census was also changed. In 1961 and later, whenever the statistics of the latest census were made public, the Hindu fundamentalist organisations triggered the issue of extreme rise in Muslim population, and it was highlighted that since Muslims don’t do family planning and there is a provision for a Muslim to have four wives, hence the growth rate is more than Hindus and people of other religions. This fear was also projected that if the growth rate of Muslims continue this way, then within years they can become majority community and the Hindus might become minorities. Interestingly for the last 50 years or so, this issue has been a weapon for the Hindu fundamentalist organisations. This should be clear that not only the majority community but also the minorities including Muslims are in great confusion regarding the population statistics. Lack of proper information and emotional analysis of every issue has been a weakness of the Muslim leadership. In this way issues get complicated instead of getting solved and we waste our time and energy in this kind of useless discussions. Since census is being conducted these days, and discussions on this issue have already been started, an attempt is being made to analyse the Muslim population in Karnataka so that we may assess the true situation concerning Muslim population when the statistics of the 2011 census are out.
The present geographical structure of Karnataka was formed on 1st November 1956 as a result of the reorganisation of states. Prior to that, Karnataka was divided into several parts. Muslims’ advent to the present Karnataka had begun very soon after the advent of Islam in Arabia. The connection of Muslim Arab businessmen with the coastal region of Kerala and Karnataka is very ancient. They established their colonies in the west coast of India. Ibn-e-Batuta, in his travelogue, written in 1342, has mentioned a Muslim state in Honnavar, and has revealed that even at that time separate institutions were established for girls’ education. The generations of Arab Muslims present in the Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada districts of south-west coastal Karnataka are Mapilla, Byari and Navayath. These people speak Malayalam, Konkani, Navayathi and Byari languages.
After the two centuries of establishment of Muslim colonies in South Karnataka and coastal Kerala, the advent of Muslims began in North India and it was in 13th century when Muslims came to north Karnataka, who later scattered across the state gradually. Today a majority of Muslims, who came from North India, speak Urdu language. Muslims progressed and strengthened the foundations of Islamic civilisation in Karnataka during the rule of Bahamanis and Bareed Shahees in Gulbarga and Bidar, and Adil Shahees and Asif Jahees of Hyderabad in Bijapur.
According to the available official record of Muslim population in Karnataka, in 1911, the percentage of Muslim population in Karnataka of that time was 8.64 percent, whereas according to the 1931 census it was 9.36 percent which went up to 10.05 percent in 1951. It is shown in records of 1961 census that the percentage of Muslim population in Karnataka was 9.87 percent. An analysis of Muslim population in contrast with the total population since 1961 till 2001 is as follows:
|Year of Census||Total Population||Muslim Population||Percentage of Muslim Population|
|1961||2.3 Crore||23.28 lakh||9.87 percent|
|1971||2.93 Crore||31.13 lakh||10.63 percent|
|1981||3.71 Crore||41.63 lakh||11.21 percent|
|1991||4.49 Crore||52.34 lakh||11.64 percent|
|2001||5.85 Crore||64.46 lakh||12.23 percent|
In 1961, there were only 19 districts in Karnataka, when Bidar was on top in terms of percentage of Muslim population which had 18.6 percent of Muslims, whereas Mandya was at the bottom of the table with 3.49 least percentage of Muslim population. It is worth mentioning that Bidar and Mandya maintained their status of large and least populated districts with Muslims from 1961 till 1991. Prior to the 2001 census, seven new districts were formed in Karnataka, as a result of which Dakshina Kannada (Mangalore) stood first in terms of Muslim population with 22.07 percent, whereas Mandya maintained its last place.
According to the census conducted in 2001, out of 27 districts, 17 districts had more than 10 percent of Muslim population and other 10 districts had less than 10 percent of Muslim population. In 12 districts of north Karnataka i.e. Belgaum and Gulbarga division, the percentage of Muslim population is 14.39, whereas in 15 districts of south Karnataka, the percentage is 10.15. As it is known that Bidar, Gulbarga, Raichur and Koppal districts which were earlier a part of Hyderabad state, have a different identity in terms of culture language and concentration of Muslim population. Muslims are 15 percent in Gulbarga revenue division and 14 percent in Belgaum division i.e. Mumbai-Karnataka region.
At the time of independence, a large part of the Muslim population from north India and Hyderabad state had migrated to Pakistan, and after independence, a large number of people from rural areas have been shifting to urban areas, and this process is in continuation even today. It is for this reason that Muslim population is concentrated in urban areas. According to the 2001 census, the total population of Karnataka was 52850562, in which 6463127 i.e. 12.23 percent are Muslims. Out of these 3815301 i.e. 59 percent of Muslim population leave in Urban areas, whereas 2647828 i.e. 41 percent of Muslims leave in rural areas. The ratio of women when compared to 1000 men is 957, and the literacy rate is 70 percent.
After independence, from 1951 to 2001, census has been conducted for six times. The percentage of Muslim population during these 50 years has risen from 9.87 percent to 12.23 percent. That means the growth rate of Muslim population is just 2.36 percent.