New Delhi, 19
they say is an inexact science. But statistical data correctly
gathered, sorted and analysed can reveal a great deal. The current
controversy regarding the growth of the Muslim population in India
was sought to be made much of by the politicians each with their own
agenda in mind. Mohan Guruswamy puts the entire issue in perspective
and gives us more statistics which the government and our
politicians should really worry about.
That Muslims are growing at a faster rate than Hindus
in independent India is old news. It has been so since 1951. In the
decade 1951-61 Muslims grew at 24.9% while Hindus grew at 18.6%. In
1991-2001 the growth rate of Muslims after adjusting for the
exclusion of Assam and J&K in the 1981 and 1991 Census’s was
29.3%, while that of Hindus was 20.0%. Not surprisingly some
political parties purporting to be shocked by this have tried to
stoke fears about Hindus being swamped by Muslims. That of course is
a ridiculous notion for let alone present trends continuing,
population growth of all groups will cease by about the end of this
century. Somebody has calculated that even if present trends
continued it would take 247 years for Muslims to catch up with
Hindus in terms of numbers.
The Chairman of the All-India Muslim Personal Law
Board, Maulana Rabey Hasni Nadwi has added fuel to this by
categorically stating, “There is no room for family planning in
Islam.” He obviously is not inspired by the fact that in most
Islamic countries like Iran, Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan and
Bangladesh the governments actively encourage family planning. It is
well known that generally the poorer a family the larger it is. That
prosperity is the best contraceptive is an old and well-used cliché.
Even the most diehard Hindu fanatic will be hard put to disagree
with this. And Nadwi and other like-minded Maulana’s will
one day realize that their exhortations against planned families
will be swamped by prosperity and progress.
demographers project that India’s population growth will taper off
around 2060. But the growth of population in the BIMARU belt will
continue till 2091. The Muslim growth will also level off about
then, by which time they will constitute a good 18.8% of India.
Given its political implications this could be a matter of concern
in some quarters. But what should equally be a matter of concern is
the consequent implication that if the BIMARU population keeps
growing till near the end of the century, then the populations in
other regions will actually be contracting. This may have even
graver political consequences. But this does not seem to concern the
Sangh Parivar, which seems only perturbed about Muslim
are other trends, some disquieting, also visible now. The foremost
of these is the sharp increase in the numbers of Agricultural
Laborers. This is the classification reserved for “the poorest of
the poor.” Their numbers has risen to 106.8 million in 2001
posting a decadal growth of 30.13%, a steep jump from the 19.03% of
the previous decade. This is a severe indictment of the policies
pursued in the decade after the so-called liberalization. During
this period the entire political spectrum enjoyed power and each
formation equally vigorously endorsed the so-called liberalization.
Naturally we will see no fingers pointed inwards. Our friends in the
Left would be better serving the nation if they voiced concern about
this and helped in developing policies that will stunt this growth
rather than expend disproportionate energy in preserving the exalted
position of organized and mostly middle class labor.
economic conditions determine population growth, we must wonder as
to why the growth of the SC and ST segments has remained below the
Muslim growth trend? As opposed to the 29.3% decadal growth between
1991–2001 of Muslims, the decadal growth rate of SC’s and ST’s
was 20.55% and 24.45% respectively. The household annual incomes as
well as per capita incomes of the SC and ST groups are lower than
that of Muslims. Muslims in turn are generally poorer than caste
Hindus. Quite clearly there are segmental attitudes impacting upon
population growth. Literacy levels of both rural and urban Muslims
are lower than Hindus, but not by very much. Perhaps what is more
significant is that as a percentage, more than twice as many
uneducated Hindu women –– 44% to 18% –– are employed than
similarly disadvantaged Muslim women.
plight of rural Muslims is not very dissimilar to that of rural
Hindus. As a percentage more rural Hindu households (51.2%) are
landless than rural Muslim households (39.5%). But when it comes to
larger holdings of over one hectare, the incidence of Muslims
household with land is over twice that of Hindus. For instance in
the 1–2 ha segment, 11.7% of rural Muslim households fall into
this category while it is only 6% for Hindus. Even so the
distribution of rural Muslims and Hindus by household monthly per
capita expenditures remains about the same.
is only in the urban areas that the Muslims fare really poorly.
About 40% of Muslim households have a per capita expenditure of less
than Rs.425 per month. At the upper end 17.1% of Hindu households
have per capita expenditures of over Rs.1120 per month as opposed to
5.8% for Muslims.
here’s something that should worry the Sangh Parivar no
end. The proportion of caste Hindu’s has been steadily dropping
since 1961 when it was 61.97%. It is 56.05% now. One way to work its
way around the demographic time bomb that is going to soon blow up
on its path is to become more inclusive in its politics.