New Delhi: The conversion of Rohit Vemula’s family to Buddhism is in line with the growing trend among Scheduled Castes (SCs) in the country.
A report in The Indian Express cites government data Buddhism is the fastest growing religion among Dalits – suggesting that Buddhism is being seen as the symbol of the success of the Dalit movement in India.
As per the data, the numbers of Scheduled Caste Buddhists have increased by 38% from 41.59 lakh in 2001 to 57.56 lakh in 2011, while the total SC population grew by 21.3% from 16.6 crore to 20.14 crore.
Over 90% of the SCs who practice Buddhism live in Maharashtra, which has 52.04 lakh Buddhists – their rate of growth in Maharashtra is an astounding 60%.
On the other hand, the rate of growth of Hindu SCs was just 19.6%, up from 15.8 crore to 18.9 crore in the decade from 2001 to 2011.
However, Buddhists still form only 2.83% of the overall Dalit population.
Dr BR Ambedkar, who played a pivotal role in revival of the Buddhist movement in India, had converted to Buddhism in 1956, a few weeks before his death.