CNBCTV18 Tweets Incorrect Assam Demographic Data, Deletes Later

BOOM & other Twitter users pointed out the error after which CNBC-TV18 tweeted that they had used incorrect 2001 census data for Assam


With the release of the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam on July 30, several claims have emerged on illegal immigrants and the Muslim population in the state. The list has left out around 40 lakh people from the 3.29 crore applications.

The release of NRC aims at distinguishing Indian citizens - people who resided in Assam before 1971- and illegal immigrants. The issue of illegal migration from East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, after the war in 1972 has been a major issue in Assam.

There are also arguments regarding the change in the state's religious and linguistic landscape owing to the influx of immigrants.

CNBC-TV18 News Twitter handle on July 30, 2018 tweeted an erroneous graph which seemed to support the common perception that illegal immigration from the Muslim dominated Bangladesh has led to a rapid increase of the Muslim population against the Hindu population, thus altering the demography of Assam.

The graph with the title, 'Illegal Immigrants to blame? - How Assam's demography patterns changed in 10 years' plotted the change in composition of Assam's population between 2001 to 2011. Citing census data, the graph claimed that Assam's Hindu population saw a decline from 80.5% to 61.47% and the Muslim population increased from 13.4% to 34.2% over the decade, an approximate change of 20 percentage points in both the cases. Click here for the archived version of the tweet.

However, the graph was a misrepresentation as data for 2001 was wrong and did not correspond with the census data. BOOM cross checked census data to find the proportion of Assam's Hindu population to have decreased only by 4 percentage points from 64.8% to 61% and that of Muslims to have increased by 3 percentage points from 30.9% to 34% over the decade.

BOOM along with other Twitter users pointed out the error after which CNBC-TV18 tweeted that it was an error as the 2001 data used in the graph was the all India figure. The business news channel deleted the initial tweet as well.

Twitter users including journalist Kanchan Gupta used the graph to claim that illegal immigration has led to the rapid increase in Muslim population against decrease in Hindu population in Assam.

What proportion of Assam's population composes of Hindu & Muslim communities

As per the previous three census, the Hindu population remains the dominant community in Assam followed by Muslims. However, the proportion of Hindu population has decreased from 67.1% in 1991 to 61.5% in 2011 while the proportion of Muslim population has increased from 28.4% in 1991 to 34.2% in 2011.

CNBC-TV18 later issued a correction with a different graph. This time the graph did not include the composition of Assam's population but it pitched the rate of increase of the Hindu and Muslim populations against the total population.

This compares the growth rate of each community's population. Accordingly, in the period of 10 years between 2001 and 2011, the total population of Assam grew at a rate of 17.07%, Hindu population at 10.89% and Muslim population at 29.59%.

However, it is not clear from the data if illegal migrants have contributed to the higher growth rate of Muslim population between 2001 to 2011. A more detailed analysis of the religious composition of the 40 lakh people left out of the NRC is likely to provide more insight into the links between illegal migration and the change in demography.

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