Delhi: In India only 33,000 have people have declared themselves as atheists (people who do not believe in the existence of God), as per the 2011 census.
According to a report in Hindustan Times, nearly half of the atheists are women and seven out of every 10 atheists live in rural India.
The data which was released earlier this week pegs the population of the country at 1.2 billion.
To be noted is that this is the first time in recent years that census data in public domain has put a number on atheists.
- At 9,652, Maharashtra is home to the highest number of atheists. 71% of them live in the villages.
- Meghalaya has 9,089 non-believers.
- Kerala comes next with 4,896 reported atheists in all.
- West Bengal number is 784 and Delhi stands at 541.
Interestingly, in 2012, the Global Religiosity Index had estimated that 3% of Indians did not believe in God.
However, as per the latest data, 0.0027% of the total population are atheist.
The Daily quoted a census official as saying that there were many more (nearly 2.9 million or 0.24% of the population) who did not tell enumerators their religion or confused it with other identities and were listed under the category 'religion not stated'.
“What I can tell you is that there were quite a few people including dignitaries holding top posts in the government who did not record their religion in the census. They felt that their faith was a personal matter and did not want their actions to be seen through the prism of their faith,” he was quoted as saying.
But, saying that the information was confidential, the official did not identify public figures.
The census is done every 10 years.