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Published in the 16-31 March 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

NCM to allay demographic worries
Tarlochan Singh

Tarlochan Singh's remark 
that the North-East has 
abnormal growth of 
Christian
 population was the 
cause of their anger.
 

The Milli Gazette Online

In an attempt to clear the doubts of various groups on the growth in minority population, National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has appointed an expert committee to analyse the Census data on religious lines. The demographer Ashish Bose, chairman of the Society for Applied Research in Humanities will head the panel of experts. As a first step, the Commission has sought details from the Christian community with regard to high growth in its numbers in the North-Eastern states. "Most of the increase in the population of Christians in these states was reported in tribal areas. The census data recorded in 2001 does not indicate whether the increase in community population is owing to migration or conversion," NCM chairman Tarlochan Singh said in a press conference on Febraury11 in New Delhi. NCM member VV Augustine told the MG that the mistaken reporting may be a factor. "While tribal people were registered as `other religion' category in the 1991 census, they had reported themselves as Christians in the 2001 census. The reason behind the migration could be better job opportunities or some other reasons. Since 1951, the Christian population has remained constant at 2.3 per cent of the total population in India. In the past decade, the community registered a growth of 22.6 per cent, he added. The first phase of meetings with Christian community leaders was held in Kochi. A meeting on the similar lines with Muslim leaders will be held in the last week of March. The date and venue are yet to be decided. 

Meanwhile NCM's move in this direction drew flak from the Christian community. Tarlochan Singh's remark that the North-East has abnormal growth of Christian population was the cause of their anger. In a strongly worded letter to the chairman of the NCM, four church leaders including Archbishop of Guwahati Rev. Thomas Menamparambil and general secretary of the Baptist churches in North-East Rev. Nugul Khan Pau have questioned the veracity of their claim and pointed out that the Commission never contacted the church leaders to verify the facts. Terming NCM chairman's remark as irresponsible and provocative, they regretted that the Commission which was set up to safeguard the rights and interests of the minorities has undermined the image of the church. 

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