Hyderabad: Only 0.002 per cent of Indians declared themselves as atheists during the 2011 census. According to recently-released data, 33,304 people in the country considered themselves as atheists out of a population of more than 1.21 billion.
Interestingly, rural India had more atheists than urban areas; the figures being 22,828 and 10,476 respectively. Of the total atheists in the country, 17,597 are men and 15,707 are women. The data pertains to table C-01 of Census 2011 which lists data of people under the title ‘Other religions and persuasions’.
The census data also underscored the fact that Telugu people are among the most god-fearing in the country. The census data is from 2011, before bifurcation of the erstwhile combined Andhra Pradesh state.
Out of the combined population of 8.45 crore people, just 256 people considered themselves as atheists of which 62 were from rural and 194 from urban areas. Of these, 256 atheists, 143 were men and 113, women.
Among south Indian states AP and Telangana have the lowest number of atheists after Karnataka with 112 atheists. While Tamil Nadu recorded 1,297 atheists, Kerala recorded a total of 4,896.
The states of Meghalaya and Maharashtra have more than half of the atheists in the country with 9,089 in Meghalaya and 9,652 atheists in Maharashtra. In both states majority of the atheists belong to rural areas.
In the year 2004, the US’ Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook noted that just 2.4 per cent of the world’s population was atheist.
The number of atheists differs and is very high in some European countries. As per Eurobarometer 2012, a public opinion survey conducted by European Commission, atheism ranged from just 1 per cent in Romania to 40 per cent in France followed by 37 per cent in Czech Republic and 34 per cent in Sweden.