During the twentieth century, the Syrian Christian population of Kerala underwent a process of transition in its demographic transition in terms of size, composition, and growth rates of the Christian population in general and the Syrian Christian population in particular. It goes on to study the growth of the Christian population in Kerala in the context of the growth of the Christian population in India. The underlying demographic factors of transition-fertility, mortality, and migration-are analysed in detail. It describes the socio-economic transition of the Syrian Christians as seen in their education level, employment status, and material possessions. The discussions are carried out in a comparative setting, where corresponding changes that have come about in other communities-Hindus, Muslims, and Latin Christians-are also examined. The book concludes by drawing attention to projected demographic trends and their likely impact on the community. It suggests the need for some introspection by the Syrian Christians to cope with the adverse fall-out of the emerging trends.
About the Author
K. C. Zachariah is currently honorary fellow at the Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram. He has a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, USA. He was the deputy director of the International Institute of Population Science, Mumbai from 1957-66. From 1966-70, he joined the United Nations as expert in demography at the Cairo Demographic Centre, after which he became senior demographer at the World Bank, Washington D. C. He has published several books on migration and fertility, including two books on demographic transition in Kerala.
Statistical information is the basis of good administration and policy making. The necessity of this is evident at all levels of planning, whether at the government level, local level, or socio-cultural and organizational level. For the Christian churches, statistical information has become all the more important in the new millennium, since they are facing new challenges, and since an increasing number of their members are living in countries outside India and in states outside Kerala. Syrian Christians are known to be somewhat slack in collecting, maintaining, and utilizing statistical information for administrative purposes. The relevance of Dr. Zachariah's book, should be viewed in light of the increasing need for statistical information and the general slackness on the part of the Syrian Christian churches in maintaining and utilizing statistical information. The book contains much demographic and socio-economic information on the Syrian Christian community of Kerala and based on it several insights into the future of the community.
Although this book is mainly about the Syrian Christians of Kerala, it includes most of the latest demographic information on Christians of all denominations in Kerala and on Christians across India. The book is, thus, a good reference document on the demography of Christians in India. Its publication is of particular relevance today, when religion-wise data are receiving increasing attention and careful scrutiny. It is relevant from several other points of view as well. First, it puts together historical data on the demography and socio-economic development of the Syrian community in Kerala-data that are not readily accessible to the general public. Second, based on original data, again not available to the public, it provides comparative information between the current socio-economic status of the Syrian Christians and that of communities belonging to other religious groups; A unique contribution of this book is the comparative analysis of demographic and socio-economic characteristics between various Christian denominations and communities falling within the larger Hindu and Muslim groups. Lastly, it brings to the attention of the Syrian Christian church leadership and of the Syrian church members problems that could arise from prospective demographic trends.
I have great pleasure in presenting this book to the public and to the Syrian Christians in particular.
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