by R K Ohri
India faces a major demographic upheaval. The sharply rising Muslim numbers, both in absolute and percentage terms, and a corresponding decline in the population of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists has the potential to escalate fault-line conflicts and create a Lebanon-like situation. Data from the last six censuses held since 1951 suggests that in percentage terms there has been a relentless increase in the population of only one community, the Muslims; all other communities are in a declining mode. Since 1981, Muslim population growth has been in a fast forward mode, growing at almost 45% higher rate than Hindus and Christians. In terms of percentage, Sikh population has recorded the steepest decline since independence.
Census 2001 put the decadal growth rate of Muslims at around 36%, while Hindu growth rate declined from 23% to 20%. On the eve of the Maharashtra Assembly elections, an unseemly political controversy was manufactured by the government on the ground that since no census had taken place in J&K in 1991, the conclusions drawn in terms of Census 2001 data were faulty. This led to a very clumsy fudging of Census 2001, by omitting from the census 3.67 crore people living in Jammu & Kashmir and Assam, States having high Muslim population.
In 1981, no census could be held in Assam due to disturbed conditions, but that did not result in any political ruckus, nor was fudging of census data done at that time because no elections were due then. The most extraordinary aspect of this fudging of the population profile was the deletion with retrospective effect of population data of these two sensitive states from every Census held since 1961 - something never done before in any democratic country.
In a lucid article, professional demographers, late P.N. Mari Bhat and A.J. Francis Zavier, wrote that “the fertility of Muslims, which was about 10 per cent higher than that of Hindus before independence, is now 25 to 30 per cent higher than the Hindu rate”. This means the Muslim population is now growing at a rate nearly 45% higher than that of Hindus.
The authors added that the assertion in a section of English media that Census 2001 had revealed a higher reduction in the growth rate of Muslims than Hindus was incorrect. The decline in Hindu growth rate was higher at 12.2% as against 10.3% decline in Muslim growth. Fast growth of Muslim population, especially in non-Muslim countries, is a global phenomenon, they averred.
There is no truth in the assertion that higher Muslim fertility was due to poverty or illiteracy. Since 36% Muslims live in urban areas, as against only 26% Hindus, and as Muslims have a higher life expectancy at birth than Hindus, logically their fertility should have been lower than Hindus. But Muslim fertility continues to be higher despite their greater urbanization and lower incidence of infant and child mortality. Within 7-8 years, the gap between the longevity of Hindus and Muslims has widened to 3 years, i.e., 68 years for Muslims as against only 65 years for Hindus [National Family Health Survey of 2005-2006].
Acceptance of family planning by Muslims is lower at least by 25 percent than Hindus and other Indic communities. Late Mari Bhat and Francis Zavier highlighted the fact that in non-Muslim countries there is a general trend towards higher growth rate of Muslim populations.
According to the National Family Health Survey-2 of 1998-99, in Kerala where the literacy level of the two communities was almost equal (and due to large remittances from Gulf countries Muslims are economically better off than Hindus), the growth rate of Muslims remained much higher than Hindus by almost 45 percent. Analysis of Census 2001shows that on an average every Muslim woman is giving birth to at least one more child than her Hindu counterpart.
Indians must understand the mindboggling import of Statement 7 of Census 2001 Religion Data Report (page xlii) which gives the religion-wise breakup of children in the 0-6 year age group. It shows that the percentage of 0-6 year old Muslim cohorts (a term commonly used in demographic parlance) is 21% higher than Hindu cohorts. This gives Muslims an advantage of 7.6% over Hindus as and when these cohorts enter reproductive age, say roughly between 2012 and 2016.
This gives a vital clue to the demographic crisis likely to engulf India anytime after 2011 or latest by 2021. These 0-6 yrs old cohorts (enumerated in 2001) will become reproductively active between 2012 and 2016 and continue to reproduce for the next 30-40 years. With a 21% higher cohort population and at least 25 percent less acceptance of family planning, the growth in Muslim population during the next few decades is likely to become even more fast-paced.
The Census 2001 Religion Data Report further reveals that among all religious groups, the Muslim population of 0-6 year cohorts was highest at 18.7%. The lowest percentage was seen among Jains (10.6%) and Sikhs (12.8%). In coming years, the percentage increase in the population of these two religious groups, important components of Indic civilization, will be slower than the growth recorded in Census 2001, and their share in the population will decline further, possibly at a faster pace.
In terms of percentage increase, the biggest quantum jump in Muslim population in coming decades will occur in Haryana where the ratio of Muslim cohorts is almost 60% higher than Hindu cohorts! Next in descending order registering fast Muslim growth will be Assam, West Bengal, Uttaranchal, Delhi, Nagaland and Bihar.
A further analysis of 0-6 year cohorts’ data reveals that out of 35 States and Union Territories listed in Statement 7, the percentage of Muslim cohorts was higher than Hindu cohorts in as many as 31 States and UTs. The percentage of 0-6 year Hindu cohorts was marginally higher than Muslims only in Sikkim and Madhya Pradesh and the UTs of Daman & Diu and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. In coming decades, Muslim population will grow at a higher rate than that of Hindus in 31 States and Union Territories.
Statement 7 of Census 2001 Religion Data Report is self explanatory and vividly depicts the looming shadow of future demographic changes across India.
Trapped in a suicidal cult of political correctness, most Indian intellectuals refuse to understand the reasons which prompted former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to advise all British couples to opt for the 5 children norm. Incidentally, his wife Cherry Blair gave birth to their fourth child while her husband was Prime Minister. Indeed, in recent years many European countries have announced liberal cash bonuses to couples who opt for more children. Peter Costello, Australia's Chancellor of the Exchequer, urged every couple to have at least 3 children, preferably more – “one child for father, one for the mother and one for the country”. Apprehensive of population growth in Indonesia, Peter Costello announced an incentive of 2000 Australian dollars for every child born after June 2004. Many keen observers of global population trends like Niall Ferguson, Bernard Lewis, Robert Costello, Bruce Bawer and Mark Steyn are alerting their countrymen to the threat posed by demographic changes to their civilisational values.
India has many bleeding heart liberals who will ask why this global panic? The answer is that in 1900, Muslims constituted only 12% of the world population; they grew to 18% in 1992-93 (when Huntington published his first thesis on clash of civilizations). Today Muslims constitute 24% of global population. Samuel Huntington pointed out that by 2025, they will constitute 30% of world population. [Source: Spangler, The Decline of the West].
According to some demographic estimates, Muslims might constitute 37% to 40% of world population by 2100 AD. In recent years the number of jihads worldwide has also multiplied; Thailand is the latest entrant to the growing list of jihadi conflict zones.
In India, the Hindu birth rate is fast approaching the European average. According to Census 2001, the decadal Total Fertility Rate of Hindus of Kolkata district (West Bengal) was barely 1.0%, much lower than the birth rates of Germany, Italy and Spain. In Kerala too the Hindu TFR at 1.64 is below the replacement level of 2.1in 2001.
Kerala has witnessed a massive increase in Muslim population from approx. 23,75,000 in 1951 to 78,64,000 in 2001. During the same period the population of Hindus grew from 83,48,000 to 1,79,2000, while that of Christians increased from 28,26,000 to 60,57,000. During the last five decades the Hindu percentage in Kerala’s population declined from 61.61 to 56.28, while that of Muslims rose from 17.53 to 24.70 percent. The percentage share of Christians declined from 20.86 in 1951 to 19.02 in 2001.
The Indian middle class and opinion makers must grasp the long term consequences of the demographic crisis. In a different context, while analyzing socio-economic aspects of Census 2001, demographer Ashish Bose estimated that in 49 districts Muslims already constitute more than 30% of the population. A back-of-the envelope calculation made in the light of Muslim growth rate in the last two decades shows that Muslims will attain majority status in all these 49 districts between 2091 and 2111, perhaps even earlier.
According to a study published by the Centre for Policy Studies, around 2061, the total Muslim population of the sub-continent (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, counted together) will exceed the total Hindu/ Sikh population. This could lead to a fierce struggle for supremacy in the sub-continent.
This is already visible in the chorus for more unmerited concessions for Muslims. The Sachar Committee admitted, perhaps unwittingly, that by 2101 Muslim population in India will be around 32 to 34 crores. It was 13.8 crores in 2001 and barely 3.77 crores in 1951.
In recent times, there have been strident demands by Muslim leaders for greater share in jobs and elected bodies. In 2006, Mohammad Azam Khan of the Samajwadi Party called for carving a Muslim Pradesh out of Western UP, instead of a Harit Pradesh advocated by the Rashtriya Lok Dal.
A similar demand to create four or five Muslim-dominated enclaves was voiced by Dr. Omar Khalidi in an interview published in The Times of India, New Delhi, June 2004. He later wrote in The Radiance, mouthpiece of Jamaat-e Islami. He was assiduously following the roadmap for another partition of India. Advocating the creation of Muslim-dominated enclaves in the Mewat region of Haryana, certain parts of UP, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Dr. Khalidi demanded reservations for Muslims on the pattern of Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
The late Dr. Khalidi was in the forefront of the lobby seeking proportionate representation for Muslims in various services, especially in the defence services and para-military forces. He and G.M. Banatwala of the Muslim League are believed to have indirectly used the Sachar Committee as a medium to mount political pressure for seeking jobs for Muslims in proportion to their growing population in government departments, especially the defence and para-military forces, besides greater representation in Parliament and State legislatures.
Muslims are fully aware of their future empowerment through sharp growth in their numbers. Many have started pushing the claim to disproportionate political power in India. Sometime ago when Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi visited Aligarh Muslim University, a student asked him how soon he visualized a Muslim becoming Prime Minister of India. Obviously, the battle lines are being drawn for another politico-religious conflict in India.
In conclusion, it would be in order to recall late P.N. Mari Bhat and Francis Zavier’s analysis that the fertility of Muslims was about 10% higher than that of Hindus before independence and is now 25 to 30% higher than the Hindu rate. Hindus have lost considerable ground since 1947. Yet no Hindu political or spiritual leader has tried to rouse the millions of ill informed Hindus about the looming threat of demographic decimation of their ancient faith and civilisational values.
The writing on the wall is clear. The Christians of Europe and Hindus of India have pushed themselves to the edge of suicide by failure to understand the dynamics of demography in this age of adult suffrage. Russian demographers describe the rampant recourse to abortion by their countrymen in quest of the small family norm as ‘do it yourself genocide’.