Census Report 2011
The release of the Census report on 25 August on the population of religious groups and the way it has been publicized in the press have already created quite a sensation. A leading English daily has reported the matter in these words: " The Muslim community has registered a moderate 0.8 percent growth to touch 17.22 crore in the decade between 2001 and 2011, up from 13.8 crore while the Hindu population showed a decline by 0.7 % percent at 96.63 during the period, according to the latest census data on religion". This gives the impression that the absolute number of Hindus has declined, which is entirely false. The Sangh Parivar has, however, already entered the field with the propaganda that Muslims will in the near future outnumber Hindus, and impose their majoritarian rule.
The fact is that during 2001-2011, the Muslim population has increased by 24.6 % while the Hindu population has grown by 16.76 percent. A striking, but nevertheless true, aspect of the scenario, which the Sangh Parivar has conveniently suppressed, is that the rate of growth of Muslim population has been the lowest during this decade compared with earlier periods. If the current rates of respective population growth remain unchanged over time, it will take more than two centuries for Muslims to outnumber Hindus. Then why the propaganda that the Muslim population is growing at an alarming rate?
What should be pointed out is that dalits and advasis are counted as Hindus in the Census, although there is not much in common between caste Hindus and adivasis in respect of culture and mode of living, and that the rates of growth of population of these two categories during 2001-2011 are not significantly different from that of Muslims. The Sangh Parivar has for a long time been referring aloud to the growth of Muslim population, while keeping conveniently silent on the growth of dalit and adivasi population. The tactics is simple. First lay the blame for all the economic ills of the country on population growth, and then hold Muslims responsible for the population growth. Thus neo-Malthusianism is combined with hatred of Muslims. Thus extermination of Muslims is advocated in a covert fashion.
The relation between population growth and economic development is a subject on which there is already a vast amount of literature with different, sometimes even conflicting, viewpoints. If it is accepted that reducing the rate of population growth and finally arriving at a stationary or even declining population is a desirable objective, how can that objective be realized? By imposing forced sterilization? Or by some other means? Quite a few years ago, Professor Amartya Sen emphasized the promotion of women's education and health care. If that prescription, which is certainly much more persuasive, is correct, special efforts should be made for raising the educational levels of Muslim, dalit and adivasi women, not for imposing some sort of nasbandi on these communities. Silence on dalits and adivasis, and mention of Muslims only can be explained by the fact that a reference to the former two will lead to nationwide protests that will sound the death knell of the flag bearers of Hindutva. Unity between dalits, Muslims and adivasis is something dreaded most by the forces of Hindutva. So, the policy of divide and rule is badly needed. Concurrently, a fear psychosis should be created in the Hindu mind in order to project the Sangh Parivar as protectors of Hindus.
Prior to the Delhi assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders asked the Hindu parents to have four children each. This was perhaps thought to be the best device to keep Muslims at bay, at least as far as the size of population was concerned. But nemesis caused the trick to miscarry, because to educated, secular and democratic Hindus, this sort of obscurantism did not seem at all laudable. In any case, such exhortations were not successful in arresting the fall in the votes of the BJP. The Sangh Parivar may now start a similar campaign all over the country in order to forestall the assumed Muslim preponderance in the population and see the results.
Vol. 48, No. 10, Sep 13 - 19, 2015