Editor’s Comment: We apologise if it appears that we are trivialising the very serious issue of female foeticide, one of the unforgivably shameful parts of Indian society, which we should attempt to eradicate as a matter of urgency.   The purpose of republishing these well established statistics here is that Neo-Sikh literature routinely boats of the superior treatment of females compared with Hindus. “Hinduism” is shown as irrevocably evil towards women, while “Sikhism” and the Sikh community are claimed to treat women with absolute equality. These statistics show that Neo-Sikhs should not make this foolish claim when Sikhs have the worst male/female ratio in the world. This is not to take away the fact that Guru Nanak did teach respect and spiritual equality of women. But then, Hindu dharma has teachings which emphasise the spiritual equality (and in some matriarchal communities even the superiority of women), and is the spiritual tradition that most frequently conceptualises the Supreme Divine as “She” as easily as God is usually conceptualised as “He” in most religions.

New Delhi: The Sikh community has the lowest sex ratio of 893 females per 1,000 males well below the national average of 933. This is revealed in the census figures of 2001 based on religion released recently.

As regards the disparity of the absolute and relative number of males and female population in the society, expressed in terms of sex ratio or number of females per thousand males, the Hindus recorded 931 and were slightly below the national average whereas sex ratio among Muslim was 936.

The sex ratio among the Christian population grew handsomely from 994 in 1991 to 1,009 in 2001, it said adding, for the Buddhist and the Jains, the sex rato remained almost the same as 953 and 950 respectively.

The report also emphasised on ‘signs of definite decline’ in the Parsi population in the country. The Parsi population deserves an exceptional but definite mention and place due to their very small number not only in India but also in the world, it added.

As per 2001 Census, the Parsi population in the country was 69,601 (33,949 males and 35,652 females) as against their population of 76,382 (37,736 males and 38,646 females) in the 1991 Census, he said.

The 2001 Census also contained data on economic activity for different religious groups. The proportion of workers to total population (work participation rate) varied from 48.4 per cent among those following other religion and persuasions to a very low of 31.3 per cent among Muslims.

In terms of type of economic activity, 33.1 per cent of the workers among Hindus returned themselves as cultivators and among Muslims they were only 20.7 per cent, the Census 2001 said. Of Buddhist workers, 37.6 per cent were recorded as agricultural labourers, not owning land.

Among Hindus, the percentage of agricultural labourers was 27.6 per cent and among Muslims it was 22 per cent. Importantly, the percentage of workers in household industries among the Muslims was highest at 8.1 per cent, much above the national average of 4.2 per cent for all communities and percentage of female workers in the segment was also quite high among the community at 19.3 per cent, reflecting their traditional association with arts and crafts and such household industries.

The literacy rate for all the religious groups, as revealed again for the first time in 2001 Census, was very encouraging, shattering many myths in circulation earlier when such a data set was not available for the country as a whole, the Census Commission said.

Originally published: Sunday, 12 September , 2004, 12:54