1. GROWTH OF POPULATION
The Population of Jainas in India
according to the 1981 Census is only 32,06,038
in the total population of India of 66,52,87,849. The distribution of
population of India, as per 1981 Census of India, among the major
religious communities and their percentage to total population is given in
Table No. 1.
TABLE NO. 11
Major Religious Communities
From the above Table it is evident that from the point of view
of population the Jaina Community is the
smallest among the six major religious communities of India. Since the
Jaina population is only about 32
lakhs, the Jainas
are only 0.48 percent in the total population of India. It means that out
of 10,000 persons in India only 48 are Jainas.
1Census Of India, 1981 : Series 1-India : Paper 3 of 1984 on �Household
Population by Religion of Head of Household�, p. vii and viii.
In fact this figure of 32 lakhs of
Jaina population in 1981 is much larger than
the corresponding figures recorded in the last ten Census Reports of
India. The total Jaina population figures as
per Census Reports of India from 1891 to 1981 are given in Table No. 2.
Census Year Total
Jaina Population in India
From the above Table it could be seen that even though the
Jaina population of 1981 shows a considerable
increase over the Jaina population of 1891,
stilt the increase has not been continuous through Out these years. On the
contrary we find a decline in Jaina population
from 1891 to 1921 and that in general there has been a steady and
continuous increase in Jaina population from
1931 to 1981. These variations in terms of percentage increase or decrease
during each decade over the last 90 years are given in Table No. 3.
These figures of total Jaina
population do not, however, portray the real demographic situation about
the Jainas since in the census records all
Jainas are not enumerated as
Jainas for different reasons. Even though
Jainism is a distinct religion and not a sect of Hinduism,
TABLE NO. 3
Increase or Decrease
in Jaina Population
- 5.8 per cent.
- 6.4 per cent.
- 5.6 per cent.
+ 6.2 per cent.
+ 15.8 per cent.
+ 11.7 per cent.
+ 25.3 per cent.
+ 28.5 per cent.
+ 23.7 per cent.
it is a. fact that in the past many Jainas
used to regard themselves as Hindus and were also regarded by others as
Hindus. That is why specific instructions were issued to the census
enumerators that �the Jainas should be entered
as Jainas and not as Hindus, even though they
themselves regard themselves as such�. Hence on some occasions more and on
others less Jainas were incorrectly returned
as Hindus. At the same time the converse case of Hindus being returned as
Jainas in census records did not possibly
occur. Thus this fact that the Jainas regard
themselves and are regarded as Hindus necessarily vitiates the census
figures and obscures the increase or decrease of the
Jaina population from census to census. Again, as a part of the
programme of non-cooperation movement launched
by Mahatma Gandhiji, the
Jainas boycotted the census operations of 1931. Naturally this
affected to a very large extent the figures about
Jainas in the Census Report of 1931. Due to these reasons incorrect
enumeration has always remained as a dominant factor in the census figures
of Jainas. But the situation is showing
definite improvement as a result of change in the attitude of the
Jainas towards themselves. The tendency among
the Jainas to regard themselves as Hindus was
very prominently noticeable among the Jainas
from the beginning of this century and that is why there was a continuous
decline in the Jaina population during the
decades from 1891 to 1921. This tendency has been largely overcome by
various methods adopted during the last sixty years by the
Jainas with a view to reorganize their
community. This is clearly visible from the census figures of 1941 and
1951. After Independence there has been a great religious awakening among
the Jainas and now-a-days the
Jainas definitely regard themselves as
Jainas and not as Hindus. This situation is
clearly reflected in the census figures of 1961 and 1971. During 1951 to
1961 the Jaina population increased by 25.26
per cent and in the next decade of 1961 to 1971 it registered an increase
of 28.48 per cent. Inspite of this increase
during the last few decades, the Jainas are
still sceptical about the reliability of
census figures pertaining to them as they believe that the census
enumerators do not, for political and other reasons, correctly record the
religion of the Jainas even though the census
authorities have issued instructions to the census enumerators �to record
the religion as actually returned by a respondent�.1