Millennium Post

As a demographic war brews

I am quite sure that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will greet the nation on this New Year with the release of religious breakdown of 2011 census data, which is still to be made public. Naturally, it is another weapon for the forces which want to polarise society by adopting different tricks to get political mileage in their favour. Unfortunately for India, PM Modi is not one of those who think twice to use a weapon to achieve a goal even through unethical methods.

Once the polls of Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand assembly are over, Modi government will come out with population figures based on religion for the whole country as well as in different states. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and all its sister organisations have already prepared themselves to launch a ‘social campaign’ from early next year ‘to create awareness with a new assertiveness about the continuous decrease in Hindu population in the country’.

RSS is sure of the fact that census 2011 data will prove beyond any doubt that ‘for the first time in over a century the proportion of the Hindu population in the country has fallen below the 80 percent mark.’ RSS ideologues think that the revelation of this data will greatly help in subtly change the core psyche of liberal Hindus. The decrease in Hindu population is psychologically important for India’s religious demographics and could be a cause of cheerfulness in RSS and BJP camps if they can (mis)use the trend to prove their ‘ minority appeasement theory.’

RSS top brass is keeping an eye over ‘the unique trend that the proportion of Hindus has shown a secular decline since 1961, matched by a corresponding increase in the proportion of Muslims.’ BJP has a government in centre with clear majority. Therefore, RSS is planning to address this issue in all its seriousness and feels that ‘the fact that proportion of Hindus has in the population shrunk from 83.4 per cent in 1961 to below 80 per cent in 2011 must get a focused attention.’ RSS ideologues are of the opinion that Hindu population had come down to 80.5 per cent according to the 2001 census and this trend matches with an almost equivalent proportional rise among the Muslims who had reached to 13.4 per cent in 2001 from 10.7 in 1961. RSS has also analysed that decadal of Hindu population was 23.8 per cent in 1961 which has now fallen to around 19 per cent and in comparison, the growth in Muslim population has accelerated from 30.6 per cent in 1961 to more than 35 per cent now.

RSS and BJP thinktanks are working overtime to collect the data which can prove that even the crude birth rates (CBR) – that show the number of births per thousand persons – for Muslims is much higher than that for the Hindus. These thinktanks are of the opinion that whereas India’s national CBR average is 25.9 per cent, for Hindus it is only 24.9 per cent and for Muslims it is 30.8 per cent: about 6 percent more than the Hindus. The comparative difference between total fertility rate for Hindu and Muslim women has also been analysed by BJP-RSS teams to prove their dangerous point.

So, be ready to answer their questions first and don’t dare to ask that why it is for the first time that the country’s ruling party, BJP, does not have a single Muslim member in Lok Sabha? Why BJP had fielded only seven Muslim candidates for 540-member Lok Sabha? Why for full 15 years when Narendra Modi was heading Gujarat, not a single Muslim was given a BJP ticket to contest in any of the five Lok Sabha and assembly elections held during that period? How many Muslim candidates BJP is fielding in Jammu and Kashmir, where out of one crore population around 70 lakh are Muslims? And, how many Muslim candidates are there from BJP in Jharkhand where Muslim population is around 38 lakh?

One should also not ask the prime minister or BJP or RSS that why it is that in spite of ruling over more than one-third of India’s 120 crore-strong population through BJP and allied governments in nine states, do they have only one Muslim minister amongst themselves? These nine states have 151 ministers and the only fortunate Muslim minister among all of them is Yunus Khan in Rajasthan. One should also not ask that why in the recently-held assembly election for Maharashtra, BJP fielded only one Muslim candidate and in Haryana only two? Do both these states not have sizable Muslim population?

In a country where according to 2001 census the religious breakup of Hindus and Muslims is 80.5 and 13.4 percent and other minorities like Christians (2.3), Sikhs (1.9), Buddhists (0.8) and Jains (0.4) practically have no polling booth-level role in politics, the release of religious data of 2011 census with a specific purpose in mind is bound to make polarisation process much deeper and faster. And, it will affect in both ways. One can also expect greater Muslim assertiveness immediately after census 2011 data is officially out.

Religious headcount is being undertaken since the first Census of India 1871-72. Colonel U.N. Mukherji had written a pamphlet in 1909—Hindus: A Dying Race. His projections were based on the study of three consecutive censuses: in 1881, 1891 and 1901. Mukherji met Swami Shraddhanand of Arya Samaj at Calcutta in 1911. His statistical and analytical study and the current data will provide ammunition to RSS and BJP and I can only pray, with my fingers crossed, that all the political outfits following the principles of inclusive politics are properly prepared to fight this battle from the beginning of 2015. It is high time that all the well meaning individuals and organisations with positive and liberal minds take a call to save the social fabric of India from these attacks.

The author is editor and CEO of News Views India
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