M A I N   N E W S

Concern over low percentage of Sikh children
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

The lowest population of Sikhs in India is in Lakshwadeep, where according to 2001 census figures, only six members of the community live there. Interestingly, all of them are literate and working. There are six other states and Union Territories where the Sikhs number less than 1,000. They are Pondicherry (108), Dadra and Nagar Havelli (123), Daman & Diu (145), Mizoram (326) and Goa (970).

Chandigarh, September 8
Low fertility, as enunciated by proportion of children (0-6 years) to the total population, and the wide disparity of the absolute and relative number of male and female population in society, has prompted the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to constitute a cell of demographic experts for talking to leaders of various religious communities, intellectuals, officials and others to analyse the latest census report on religion.

Talking to The Tribune over the telephone, Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman of the NCM, said that the census data on religion had brought out certain startling facts not only about sex ratio but also on low percentage of population of children to the total population of various minority communities, especially Sikhs and Jains.

"Our proposed cell will start its work from next month and start holding meetings with leaders of various communities to impress upon them the need for taking immediate corrective measures so as to bring about the balance in population growth, sex ratio and ratio of children to total population," he said.

"These are not only concerns of various religious communities but are important national issues which need to be discussed, debated and corrective measures applied. Such demographic imbalances can lead to socio-political problems in liberal democracies like ours," he added, revealing that top demographic experts have already been contacted and persuaded to join the special cell.

In case of Punjab, for example, the percentage of population of children (0-6 years) to total population was only 12.8 against 15.6 in case of Hindus, 18.7 in Muslims, 14.4 in Buddhists and 13.5 in Christians. The only community which had even fewer children (0-6 years) than Sikhs was Jains (10.6).Other religions have 18 per cent of their population in the age group of 0-6 years.

While the Jains have recorded the highest growth rate of all communities---26 per cent--- compared to its growth rate of 4.6 per cent during 1981-1991, the Sikhs have a noticeable decline in their growth rate from 24.3 per cent in 1981-91 to 18.2 per cent in 1991-2001.

The low percentage of children's population will adversely affect Punjab in the coming years as its overall growth has shown decline. Though the sex ratio has shown considerable improvement over the years, it still continues to be on the low side.

While the overall sex ratio of women to per thousand population of Sikh males is only 893 against the national average of 933, it is just 786 in the 0-6 age group, meaning thereby that in another 15 to 20 years, nearly 15 to 21 per cent Sikh male youths will not be able to find their life partners from their own religious community.

In Punjab this ratio is slightly better. It is 897 but in the 0-6 age group it is just 780, better than third highest Sikh populated territory of Haryana where it is 742.

Only in eight states or Union Territories, the population of Sikhs is 1 per cent or more. They are Punjab (59.9 per cent), Chandigarh (16.1per cent), Haryana (5.5per cent), Delhi (4.0 per cent), Uttaranchal (2.5 per cent), Jammu and Kashmir (2 per cent), Rajasthan (1.4 per cent) and Himachal Pradesh (1.2 per cent). In Delhi the sex ratio (925) is closest to the national ratio while in Chandigarh (910) it is not that bad.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |