If they still feel that rather than their own doing, Muslims are responsible for it, they will have to understand that the larger growth rate among Muslims owes mainly to poverty and relative lack of education. The best way to further reduce the gap will be to ensure that more and more Muslim boys and girls get higher education and employment. This will require reservation, both in education and jobs. They must also know that women in jobs are likely to have less number of children than the women not in jobs. Opening job facilities for Muslim girls would therefore be a positive stop.
“Hindu Population falls below 80 percent” – this and similar headlines appear at the top of almost all newspapers today. The debate is on again. It may rage in coming days and hopefully for the ruling party will help its Bihar campaign.
The data show that While the general population grew at the rate of 17.7% between 2001 and 2011, the growth rate was 16.8% for Hindus, 24.6% for Muslims, 15.5% for Christians, 8.4% for Sikhs, 6.1% for Buddhists, and 5.4% for Jains.
Indeed, between 1991 and 2001, the Muslim population grew 29.3%, indicating that the 24.6% growth seen between 2001 and 2011 marks a slowing. According to the National Family Health Survey-3, Muslim fertility is decreasing faster than Hindu fertility, which means a narrowing of Hindu-Muslim fertility differentials.
The census data, which was compiled in 2011, says India is home to 966.3 million Hindus, who make up 79.8% of the population. There are 172.2 million Muslims (14.2% of the population); 27.8 million Christians (2.3%) and 20.8 million Sikhs (1.7%). The data also shows there are 8.4 million Buddhists with a 0.7% share of the population and 4.5 million Jains, making up 0.4% of the population.
When an analyst from Financial Mint of the Hindustan Times group called me last afternoon on phone asking my reaction to the latest report, I had not yet read it. When she told that it has shown Islam as the fastest growing religion in India, my immediate reaction was that it was a global phenomenon. But then I explained the difference between India and rest of the world. While the reasons for fastest growth of Islam in the world owe significantly if not wholly to conversion, in India the phenomenon is almost wholly to the higher growth rate of Muslim population compared to Muslims, although the difference is fast narrowing.
The report is sure to infuse huge activity in the Hindutva lobby. Even decades before the Partition, they had a keen eye on demographic realities in the country. If the country got partitioned, it was not merely because a section of Muslims led by Jinnah demanded it and they got it. It was also because certain Hindu lobbies deliberately allowed, even facilitated it.
While the Muslim supporters of Partition believed they would be able to carve a better future for Muslims in a separate country, the Hindu supporters thought that he Partition would in effect partition Muslim population, and Hindus would have an overwhelming dominance in what would become new India.
And, seen from their point of view, they were perhaps right. If the country had not witnessed Partition, India would have had about 50 crore Muslims out of about 155. This would have been around 33 per cent of the population. With that kind of Muslim share, Hindus would not have been able to achieve the kind of total dominance they have achieved on almost all fronts. They have ensured enacted legislations like Art 341, which has blocked any conversion of Dalits to Islam. The constitutional guarantees to Dalits are less out of love for them and more out of the desire to maintain the current demography.
They have also ensured that while almost half of the population of Hindus get reservation in jobs and colleges, Muslims do not get it. With much less than the adequate Muslim presence in political institutions, Administration, Executive and Judiciary, they have sidelined Muslim influence in the country.
The data have clearly shown that the fall in the growth of Muslims has been far more than that of Hindus in the last decade. This clearly shows that Muslims have adopted FP measures in increasingly large numbers. But Hindutva lobby will again cry foul trying to prove that “Muslims marry four wives and produce 25 children”.
The truth however is that if Hindu population has been showing a declining trend, it is almost wholly due to their own fault. Their dislike for daughters has grown despite severe laws against Sex Determination Test.
Reports have shown that in the 9-5 years age group, the Male/Female ratio among Muslims is 950 compared to 925 among Hindus. In Muslim families close to me, there are many with more daughters than boys or only daughters. I have seen this rarely in Hindu families.
The Hindu experts forget that the growth rate within a community ultimately depends upon the number of fertile women and not men. If they are really interested in maintaining their lead in the population, they will have to produce more daughters and not kill them in the wombs of their mothers.
If they still feel that rather than their own doing, Muslims are responsible for it, they will have to understand that the larger growth rate among Muslims owes mainly to poverty and relative lack of education.
The best way to further reduce the gap will be to ensure that more and more Muslim boys and girls get higher education and employment. This will require reservation, both in education and jobs.
They must also know that women in jobs are likely to have less number of children than the women not in jobs. Opening job facilities for Muslim girls would therefore be a positive stop.
Another important step would be to involve more and more Muslim NGOs in health and education and to grant them funds. I am saying this on the basis of my personal experience. Around 2000, I organised mother and child care and vaccination camps in around 200 Muslim villages of District Saharanpur. The performance of those camps was so overwhelmingly superior to the camps organisation by District Health Administration that CMO called for a special meeting to analyse this. While the number of vaccinations in the governmental camps would not exceed 8-10 a day, the numbers in our camps would cross 100 mark, and in one camp it crossed 400. ORG even conducted a survey in these villages and found huge success rate. This was mainly due to the lack of credibility for the government teams in Muslim villages.
Lastly, Hindutva organisations should refrain from making it a big issue. If they do, it will only prove to be counterproductive. The rate of the decline of their population is too slow to warrant any panic, and with time this gap is bound to decrease. Let this issue not allow an already galloping communal situation to worsen further.
[Dr Javed Jamil is India based thinker and writer with over a dozen books including his latest, “Quranic Paradigms of Sciences & Society” (First Vol: Health), “Muslims Most Civilised, Yet Not Enough” and “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination & Road-map”. Other works include “The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism”, “The Essence of the Divine Verses”, “The Killer Sex”, “Islam means Peace” and “Rediscovering the Universe”. Read more about him at http://www.worldmuslimpedia.com/dr-javed-jamil. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/javedjamil2015. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 91-8130340339.]