Tuesday, February 22, 2005

NCM blames it on conversion

The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has expressed apprehension over the religious conversion taking place in various parts of the country. An expert committee of the NCM, which went into the details of the increase in the percentage of Christians in various parts of the country, has highlighted the case of Gujarat in this regard.
In Gujarat the growth could not be explained by a ''natural increase'', the report prepared by the committee says. ''Are Christians from other states of India migrating in large numbers to Gujarat? If not, conversion seems to be the dominant factor,'' says Prof Ashish Bose while making a presentation about the committee report before Christian leaders.
Against the national growth rate of 22.6 per cent by Christians, Nagaland reports 69.2 per cent growth, while it is 56.3 per cent in Gujarat, 34.8 per cent in Orissa, 42.1 per cent in Meghalaya, 32.5 per cent in Chattisgarh, 34.3 per cent in West Bengal, 30.0 per cent in Punjab and 30.7 per cent in Mizoram, the panel said. Kerala, which accounts for the largest share of Christians in the country, has registered 7.8 per cent growth.
The committee does not rule out the possibility of Muslims who have illegally migrated from Bangladesh reporting their religion as Christianity, ''guided by survival strategy and adverse economic conditions.'' Also tribals listed under other religions in the past census have 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 says.
While analysing the data on Assam, the report said ''the possibility of some forced conversion to Christianity by militant groups cannot be ruled out''. Although Christians are 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 accounts for just 25 per cent of the country's total Christian population.
Besides Prof Bose, the expert committee members are Prof PM Kulkarni of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, Prof Mari Bhat of the Institute of Economic Growth and Prof TK Roy, former director of the International Institute of Population Sciences, Mumbai.
To probe attack on evangelists
NCM will take up the attack on six trainee evangelists, allegedly by RSS cadre, at Budhannur in Alappuzha district recently. According to NCM member VV Augustine, he has heard only press reports about the incident and he would go there to find out the facts and take action, if needed. The RSS men allegedly beat up the Evangelists of the Believers Church after taking them to a distant place. Most of the injured were from the North and Eastern parts of the country.