02 September 2008

Book Review- The Syrian Christians of Kerala, Demographic and Socio-Economic Transition In The Twentieth Century by K. C. Zachariah

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.

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.


Social and Economic Transitions in the Syrian Christian Community in the Twentieth Century: An Overview

The History of Christianity inIndia

Growth of the Christian Population in India

Growth of the Syrian Christian Population in Kerala

Kerala Christians by Denominations

Demographic Characteristics of Christians in Kerala Socio-Economic Profile of the Syrian Christians by the End of the Twentieth Century .

The Syrian Christians are `notoriously lethargic’ in developing and maintaining basic information about the community. For the community to survive in the 21st century, its members should come together in the emerging era of demographic crises and jointly invest more of their resources in areas that matter the most, especially in the development of human resources.

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