Skip to main content

RSS 'demonizing' Muslim demographics: Hindus' growth rate decline 2.5% lower

By Mohan Guruswamy*
The RSS is riding its old hobbyhorse again. Addressing the Yuva Dampati Sammelan attended by reportedly 2000 young couples organized by the RSS’ Kutumb Prabhodan in Agra on August 21, the RSS Sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat, apparently concerned about the “declining Hindu population” exhorted young Hindu couples to have more children.
He asked: "Which law says that the population of Hindus should not rise? There is nothing like that. What is stopping them when population of others is rising? The issue is not related to the system. It is because the social environment is like this."
The apparent provocation for this is in the Census 2011 findings: “Population Growth rate of various religions has come down in the last decade (2001-2011). Hindu population growth rate slowed down to 16.76 % from previous decade figure of 19.92%, while Muslims witness a sharp fall in growth rate to 24.60% (2001-2011) from the previous figure of 29.52 % (1991-2001).”
Though such a sharp fall in population growth rate for Muslims didn't happened in the last six decades, apparently it was not enough of a silver lining to cheer up Bhagwat. Meanwhile, Christian population growth rate was at 15.5% and Sikh population growth rate stood at 8.4%.
The most educated and wealthy Jain community registered the least growth rate in 2001-2011 with figure of just 5.4%. Bhagwat however should be heartened that while the growth rate of Hindus has declined by just 3.16%, the corresponding decline for Muslims was a sharper 4.92%. But clearly he is not.
Its true that India’s Muslim population is growing at a slightly faster tick. Census 1991 reported that Muslims accounted for 12.61% of the population. According to Census 2001 Muslims accounted for 138 million or 13.4%. But in 2011 that share rose to 14.23% or 172 million. But even if they are, is it cause for worry? Are Indian Muslims not Indians like the others? Unfortunately, this basic question seems out of place in the current discourse.
Not surprisingly the RSS and BJP 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 in India will cease about the end of this century.
It has been calculated that even if present trends continued it would take 247 years for Indian Muslims to catch up with Hindus in terms of numbers. Its not as if the RSS is not capable of getting its math right, but logic is not the issue here.
Most 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. This rather appropriate acronym BIMARU stands for Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The Muslim growth will also level off about then, by which time they will constitute a good 18.8% of India.
But what should 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 proportionate populations of 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 fecundity.
At a macro-level, both China and India have had a phenomenal expansion of populations combined with economic growth. Quite clearly population growth is not necessarily a brake on economic growth. On the other hand, there is much to suggest that population growth contributes much to economic growth. 
The critical factor here is the dependency ratio, which is the ratio of dependent people aged 0-14 and 65plus against productive people in the 15-64 years age group. The lower the dependency ratio the better.
In 2020 India will have more than 270 million people in the 15-35 age segments, when productivity and economic contribution is the highest. If savings rates improve and with productive potential at its peak in 2020 and we will have a great window of opportunity to make it as a developed and prosperous economy by 2050, if we are able to educate and empower the masses. 
Such a demographic constellation will never appear again. It’s just too bad our leaders are pre-occupied with their individual constellations, and not the nation's.
There are other trends, some disquieting, also visible now. The foremost of these is the sharp increase in the numbers of agricultural labourers. This is the classification reserved for “the poorest of the poor.” 
Their numbers have risen to 144.3 million in 2011 posting a decadal growth of 34.23, while the number of land owning cultivators have decreased by 9 million. This is a severe indictment of the policies pursued in the decade after the so-called liberalization. The entire spectrum of political power has held office during the last two decades. Naturally we will see no fingers pointed inwards.
Muslims are generally poorer than Hindus. Poorer people have more children. And quite clearly there are other segmental factors impacting population growth. Literacy levels of both rural and urban Muslims are lower than Hindus, but not by much. Perhaps what is more significant is that more than twice as many uneducated Hindu women are employed than similarly disadvantaged Muslim women -- 44% compared to 18%.
Bhagwat should be heartened: Growth rate of Hindu population declined by 3.16%, corresponding decline for Muslims was a sharper 4.92%
According to the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) there is a wide spectrum of household incomes for the communities. At the two ends are Sikhs and Muslims. The average monthly per capita expenditure of a Sikh household in 2010 was Rs 1,659 while that of a Muslim household was Rs 980. 
The average expenditures for Hindus and Christians were Rs 1,125 and Rs 1,543 respectively. There is no significant difference between the average rural Muslim and Hindu by household monthly per capita expenditures, which are Rs 833 and Rs 888 respectively.
But there is one area where Muslims fare much better. More than half of the Indian population, over 600 million people, defecate in the open, without the use of a latrine or toilet. The prevalence of open defecation is particularly high among Hindus. 
Data from the most recent wave of the National Health and Family Survey of India show that as of 2005, 67% of Hindu households defecate in the open – e.g. in fields, near streets, or behind bushes. In comparison, only 42% of the relatively poor Muslim households do so.
This is not without consequences on population growth. In India, Muslim children are substantially more likely than Hindu children to survive till their fifth birthday, despite Muslim parents being poorer and less educated on an average than Hindu parents. 
This phenomenon, which has been well documented and reveals that by age five, mortality among Muslims is about 18 per cent lower than among Hindus, with an additional 1.7 children per 100 surviving till the age of 5. Clearly if Hindu infant mortality improves, its population growth will get closer to the Muslim rate.
Fittingly it seems that how Hindu population growth shapes up depends much on how many of them take to the Prime Minister’s Swachch Bharat campaign to build more toilets and encourage their use. The RSS has its work cut out.
---
*Policy analysis expert. Source: Author's Facebook timeline. Contact: mohanguru@gmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Church in India 'seems to have lost' moral compass of unequivocal support to the poor

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
In 2017, Pope Francis dedicated a special day, to be observed by the Universal Church, every year, as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year it will be observed on November 17 on the theme ‘The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever’; in a message for the day Pope Francis says:

There may have been Buddhist stupa at Babri site during Gupta period: Archeologist

By Rajiv Shah
A top-notch archeologist, Prof Supriya Varma, who served as an observer during the excavation of the Babri Masjid site in early 2000s along with another archeologist, Jaya Menon, has controversially stated that not only was there "no temple under the Babri Masjid”, if one goes “beyond” the 12th century to 4th to 6th century, i.e. the Gupta period, “there seems to be a Buddhist stupa.”

VHP doesn't represent all Hindus, Sunni Waqf Board all Muslims: NAPM on SC ruling

Counterview Desk
India's top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), even as describing the Supreme Court's Ayodhya judgement unjust, has said, it is an "assault on the secular fabric of the Constitution". In a statement signed by top social workers and activists, NAPM said, "The judgement conveys an impression to Muslims that, despite being equal citizens of the country, their rights are not equal before the law."

As fear 'grips' right liberals, Arvind Panagariya, too, would be declared anti-national?

By Rajiv Shah
It is surely well-known by now that India's top people in the power-that-be have been castigating all those who disagree with them as "anti-nationals". Nothing unusual. If till yesterday only "secular liberals", and "left-liberals" were declared anti-national, facts, however, appear to have begun surfacing that, now, guns are being trained against those who could be qualified as right liberals, too. Let me be specific.

'First time' since 1970s poverty up 10%, consumer spending down 4%: GoI survey

By Our Representative
In what may prove to be a major embarrassment for the Government of India (GoI), a new official survey, carried out in 207-18, has reportedly said that average consumer spending in India fell by more than 4% the previous six years "primarily driven by slackening rural demand." The survey, "Key Indicators: Household Consumer Expenditure in India”, carried out by the National Statistical Office (NSO), says that money spent per person in a month fell by 3.7% from Rs 1,501 in 2011-12 to Rs 1,446 in 2017-18.

National award winning film 'Hellaro' co-produced by three chartered accountants

By Our Representative
“Hellaro”, a Gujarati feature film produced by Saarthi Productions in association with Harfanmaula Films (Ahmedabad) was declared as the Best Feature Film at the National Film Awards which was conferred by the Government of India. The film also won the Special Jury Award for the Best Actress to all the 13 actresses of the film.
Ashish Patel produced the movie, which has been co-produced three co-producers, Aayush Patel, Prateek Gupta and Mit Jani, all of whom, interestingly, started their filmmaking journey after becoming Chartered Accountants in 2012.
“Hellaro” is directed by Abhishek Shah, who has been working in Gujarati theatre since the past 17 years as writer, director and actor and has received numerous awards for his plays. He has also worked as a casting director for 12 films.
“Hellaro” is a period drama based in Kutch and has been co-written by Abhishek Shah and Prateek Gupta. Gupta previously received the Best Debut Director Award, along with Mit Jan…