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Bogey of Muslim population growth; and the reality

Bogey of Muslim population growth; and the reality

Fears of a Muslim takeover of India have been a core part of the Hindutva agenda for almost a century now. A statement showing Muslim population growth a threat is again doing rounds. BJP MLA in Rajasthan Banwari Lal Singh is so scared of rising population of Muslims that he told on public platform that Muslims were bearing more children with an aim to outnumber Hindus and to take control of the country by 2030.

It is not the question of one MLA, such remarks are made time and again. After the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, for example, Narendra Modi characterised the violence-affected Muslims in riot camps as “baby-producing factories”.

RSS and Sangh Parivar leaders have always been raising concerns over this saying Muslim women give birth to 10, 10 children. As reported by the Indian Muslim, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Sadhvi Prachi, had accused Muslims of giving birth to “40 dogs” each and “trying to convert Hindustan into Darul Islam”. The issue is not ended there itself. They also say that if the Muslim population is not checked and Hindus do not produce more children to rectify this “demographic imbalance”, soon Muslims will overtake the number of Hindus in India.

However actual data on this issue would hardly support the sort of fears that the Sangh Parivar and the like play up. According to a feature appeared on scroll.in, in fact Muslim growth rates are slowing down gradually. While from 1991 to 2001, the Indian Muslim population grew by 29.3%, in the period 2001-2011, it grew by 24.4% – a fall, therefore, of almost 5 percentage points. The Sachar Committee Report, taking this falling growth rate into account, has estimated that the Muslim proportion will stabilise at between 17% and 21% of the Indian population by 2100. A far cry from some of the doomsday scenarios being painted.

2011 census also reveals that not only Muslims, but the population of Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains has also decreased.

Accusations of large-scale Bangladeshi immigration and supposed driver of the alleged Muslim population boom has also been proved false. If, as alleged, such large-scale immigration was taking place from Bangladesh to Assam and West Bengal, the Muslim population in those two states would tend to show abnormal growth. But the data shows nothing of that sort. Assam’s Muslim population, for example, grew at the same rate as India’s Muslim population between 1991 and 2001 and West Bengal’s Muslim population, in fact, grew slower.

In spite of the mountains of contrary data, the Sangh Parivar’s demographic scaremongering continues as an election strategy.