An analysis of Kerala’s confused political demography

There was a huge hue and cry in Kerala this year when the Muslim League was putting pressure on the UDF government for the 5th ministerial post for their party. They already had 4 ministers and detractors were making the point that giving in to their demand would disturb the communal demographic balance in Kerala as this would make the total number of Muslim and Christian ministers to thirteen.


Is it really so? The raging debates on TV prompted me to go for bits and pieces of data collection and do my part to clear the confusion that existed in my mind. The analysis throws interesting answers.

To start off, let us see the actual demographic balance in Kerala. As I write this, the census results of 2011 are not out yet, so whatever needs to be analysed has to be done basis the figures available for 2001. So, to go with the latest available data on population, the religious breakup of Kerala populace is as below:

Religious Communities
Persons
Males
Females
%
Hindu
1,78,83,449
86,90,473
91,92,976
56.16%
Muslim
78,63,842
37,76,371
40,87,471
24.70%
Christian
60,57,427
29,81,790
30,75,637
19.02%
Sikh
2,762
1,611
1,151
0.01%
Buddhist
2,027
1,081
946
0.01%
Jain
4,528
2,268
2,260
0.01%
Other Religious Communities
2,256
1,153
1,103
0.01%
All Religious Communities
3,18,41,374
1,54,68,614
1,63,72,760
100%

So as expected, the majority is just a shade above the half way mark, and the minorities are quite strong in numbers, cannot exactly be called minorities. 

I am trying tweak this data based on simple logics, trying to bring the figures closer to today’s reality. Let us look at the growth rate of each community and arrive at an approximate number that can match the actual figures of 2011. Census website did not help much, so back to Wikipedia and the numbers there showed that Muslims had an annual growth rate of 1.75%, while Hindus and Christians actually had a negative growth rate (-1.55% and -0.32% respectively). Other communities’ stats not available, so for the purpose of our analysis, let us keep those figures as constant. Putting the formulas in place, we can arrive at the below figures for the expected number for Kerala in 2011.

Religious Communities
2011 %
Hindu
49.99%
Muslim
30.57%
Christian
19.40%
Sikh
0.01%
Buddhist
0.01%
Jain
0.01%
Other Religious Communities
0.01%
All Religious Communities
100%

So, net effect, Hindus expected to drop to drop their share in population by 6.17% and Muslims gaining by 5.87%. No drastic change in the Christian population, their share going up by just 0.37%. Other communities are negligible. In effect, Kerala is going to be once state where no section of the population is going to be more than 50%. This is to be expected considering the trends of alteration that has been happening over the years. The decrease in the Hindu population is directly in proportion to the increase in the Muslim population.   


Now, let us look at the demography of the Kerala Legislative Assembly of 2011. There is no much difference in the number of seats between the ruling UDF and opposition LDF, hopefully the detailed breakup with throw some light if the distribution of seats also matches the social fabric of the state. For the hypothesis, have included the nominated member of assembly also, he is a UDF sympathiser. The numbers of MLA’s in the 2011 Legislative Assembly are as below, classified based on their religion.

Category
LDF
UDF
Total
Hindu
45
24
69
Muslim
8
28
36
Christian
13
22
35
Jain
1
1
Total
66
75
141

The same figures when put as percentage will look as below:

Category
LDF
UDF
Total
Hindu
68.2%
32.0%
48.9%
Muslim
12.1%
37.3%
25.5%
Christian
19.7%
29.3%
24.8%
Jain
0.0%
1.3%
0.7%
Total
100%
100%
100%

Just to bring clarity to the groups in the assembly, LDF (Left Democratic Front) is a combination of the Communist Parties and others with a basic leftist ideology. They include CPIM, CPI, RSP, JDS and NCP. UDF (United Democratic Front) is an assortment of INC, Muslim League, Kerala Congress, RSPB, and Socialist Janata Party. Might be a bit confusing for outsiders, much of the alliance defies logic; allies at national level are adversaries here.  

So, how does the picture look now? It can be said that Hindu representation in the Assembly is in equal proportion to their population. The Christians are over represented by 5%. The Muslims have a reason to feel short-changed by 5%. The only Jain presence here is MV Shreyams Kumar who got elected from Kalpetta.

Deeper into the data, the ruling UDF seems to be heavily minority dominated. In fact, more than two-thirds of its members are Muslims and Christians (I am not using the word minority here as there is no point in calling anyone a minority if there is no majority). Muslims do make up as the single largest component of UDF, thanks to the good showing by Muslim League in the seats it contested.

LDF seems to be Hindu dominated, looking at the figures. No wonder they had to hear the story of Hindu consolidation in its favour against a Christian – Muslim consolidation for UDF. These numbers do prove that there is a little bit of legitimacy for this chronicle.


This pretty much settles the first part of the question. The Assembly partially represent the true disposition of the Kerala society, except for the under-representation of Muslims, which is balanced by the larger proportion of Christians. Now, let us come to the second part of the story – the composition of the ministry based on religion.

The table below consists of two parts, the first one is a representation of how the ministry should be if taken basis the breakup of population, and the second part is the actual composition of ministry at present.

Minister is a
Required
as per population figures
Actual minsters
Hindu
11
9
Muslim
7
6
Christian
4
7
Total
22
22

The above table makes it quite clear who’s the winner and who’s the loser. So both Hindu and Muslim communities are the losers in the deal, if the whole idea of the political class is to distribute positions based on caste and creed. Somebody just managed to upstage them.

Kerala has been a multicultural society for ages, readily accepting life, lifestyle and revolutions in a positive frame. So it does sting a lot when people bring in all sundry matters into politics and governance. If the political activism by the Muslim League and the Hindu awakening that followed all these activities in Kerala after the elections are anything to go by, we are up for a big game of political circus. And wait for the best part, the BJP is nowhere in the picture. CPIM is clearly the Sangh Parivar of Kerala.

To add another point, quite insignificant to the analysis above, the data that I had studied gave rise to another interesting observation. There are 16 seats in the Assembly that is reserved for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (in fact, 14 for SC and 2 for ST), and the LDF has almost total domination over these. So any Psephologist doing his bit of study for the national channels on election analysis can keep this in mind. Maybe the elections here are quite an intricate mixture of social engineering.
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