Curious Case Of Hindu Growth In Ladakh

The community’s population has grown by a record 125 percent

Haroon Mirani

At a time when Muslim population growth is slowing and Buddhist number is infact shrinking, Ladakh is witnessing an unusual explosion in the number of Hindus. The community which in the living memory never crossed the single digits in percentage has managed to more than double its number in ten years.

According to new figures released by Census of India on the basis of religion, the Hindu population in Ladakh region has grown by a record 125 percents and it has even pushed the Muslims to third place in Leh district.

The data has thrown quite a few surprises and also demolished the myth that Muslims population is growing in the region. According to census 2001, the Hindu population in the region-comprising of Leh and Kargil district- was 14,715, which according to 2011 census figures has grown to 33,223 persons thus registering a growth of 125.77 percents.

The most curious aspect of the latest figures, set to raise many questions, is the surprising low number of females in the emerging community. Of the 33,223 population of Hindus, 96 percent or 31,943 to be precise are males and only 1280 constitute of females.

The growth of Hindus has been exponential in both Kargil and Leh. In Kargil the number of Hindus has grown by 101 percents from 5142 in 2001 to 10,341 in 2011. In Leh the growth of hindus at 139 percent is even higher. From 9573 in 2001, their number has increased to 22,882 in 2011. Hindus now officially comprise of second largest religious community in Leh next only to Buddhists. Muslims have been pushed to distant third with their number remaining as 19,057.

The Hindu share in the population of Ladakh has increased from 6.22 to 12.11 percents in the corresponding period. If the trend continues the Ladakh region is set to become hindu dominated region in the next two decades, with both Buddhists and Muslims becoming minorities.

2001 (pop/percentage) 2011 (pop/percentage) Growth
Muslim 112119 (47.39%) 127296 (46.40%) 13.53%
Hindu 14715 (6.22%) 33223 (12.11%) 125.77%
Sikh 730 (0.30%) 2263 (0.82%) 210%
Buddhist 108493 ((45.86%) 108761 (39.65%) 0.24%
Christian 409 (0.17%) 1262 (0.46%) 208%
TOTAL 236539 (100%) 274289 (100%)
2001 (pop/percentage) 2011 (pop/percentage)
Muslim 95963 (80.43%) 108239  (76.87%)
Hindu 5142  (4.3) 10341 (7.34%)
Sikh 227  (0.19%) 1171  (0.83%)
Buddhist 17875 (14.98) 20126 (14.29%)
Christian 71 604
TOTAL 119307 (100%) 140802 (100%)
2001 (pop/percentage) 2011  (pop/percentage)
Muslim 16156 (13.78%) 19057 (14.27 %)
Hindu 9573 (8.16%) 22882 (17.14%)
Sikh 503 (0.42) 1092 (0.81%)
Buddhist 90618 (77.29%) 88635 (66.39%)
Christian 338 658
TOTAL 117232 (100%) 133487 (100%)

In the meantime the share of both Muslims and Buddhists in the region’s population has decreased. In 2001 the percentage of Buddhists was 45.86 whereas in 2011 it has decreased to 39.65 percent. The Muslim share has decreased modestly from 47.39 in 2001 to 46.40 percents in 2011 though their numbers have increased. As a whole the Muslims are still the largest group in the region and Buddhist share is largely eaten away by Hindus. The total population of Ladakh has increased from 2,36,539 to 2,74,289 and Hindus for the first time have played a major role in it.

The population of Buddhists has declined in Leh and modestly risen in Kargil. In Leh the number of Buddhists has decreased from 90,618 to 88,635 whereas in Kargil their number has increased from 17,875 to 20,126 souls during the two censuses.

The share of Buddhists in the state population has also decreased considerably. In 2011, their number was 113,787 which decreased to 112,584 in 2011. It is for the first time since the data collection became that the share of Buddhists in state population has fallen below 1 percent. Their share in state population has fallen from 1.12 percents in 2001 to just 0.89 percents in 2011.

Other minority groups too have shown growth. Though Sikhs have grown by 210 percents and Christians by 208 percents in Ladakh, but their low number of 2263 and 1262 respectively dents their chance of being a major factor. But Hindus have increased both in numbers and percents too, making them a potential big player in geopolitical situations. As the political analysts foresee that in the near future Kashmir is bound to be sandwiched between Hindu dominated Ladakh and Hindu dominated Jammu.

  • Sam108

    I noticed the growth in the Hindu population, but I dont think it is that unusual neither can it be used as a protraction for the future. When people talk of muslim population growth they tend to refer to natual increase. The Hindu population of Ladakh as you mentioned is overwhelmingly male which points to migration. It doesnt follow that this is permanent, yet even if it is, its not exactly suprising given that there are close to 1 billion hindus in the same country and a population that is increasingly mobile. Thousands of migrants is a drop in the ocean.