By Mayank Mishra
23 January 2020
Way back in 1908, UN Mukherji wrote a book titled Hindus: A Dying Race. The book, as the title suggests, painted a gloomy picture of Hindus in India. Despite being riddled with several accuracies, as several scholars pointed out subsequently, the book was applauded by several Hindu organisations in the then undivided Bengal.
The next 111 years since the publication of the book have proved how the predictions were nothing but the figment of the author’s wild imagination. In the ten decades since then, the population of Hindus in the country has grown five times, from a little over 20 crore to nearly 100 crore now. Despite mounting concrete evidence to the contrary, fans continued to propagate the distorted idea of the book, that is, the ‘doomsday’ scenario for Hindus in India.
‘Explosion’ of ‘Muslim Population’ is a Myth
Now, several messages are floating around indicating the necessity of a population control legislation so that the so-called ‘dying race’ continues to have an upper hand in India. The central theme of scare-mongering now is the perceived ‘explosion’ of population of Muslims in the country.
Is there an explosion really taking place? Facts, once again, do not support such claims. Sample some:
Social Backwardness Is the Real Villain
National data hides wide regional variations that clearly suggest that the real villain is social backwardness and not so much religious affiliation. In the whole of south India, for instance, the average annual growth of the Muslim population stood at 1.6 percent in the last decade, which is significantly less than the national average of 1.9 percent. The rates in Kerala and Tamil Nadu are less than the south Indian rate. Muslims in Kerala have fewer children than that of Muslims in UP and Bihar, and the same rule applies to Hindus also. Isn’t this data indicative of the fact that female literacy and better social infrastructure are the most effective contraceptive?
What We Can Do Instead of Focussing on Population Control Legislation
Let us not forget that ours was the first government to have framed a population control policy way back in 1952. We began to see its impact from the 1980s onwards. Now that we are close to attaining the replacement level, what is the need for a new law? That too inspired mostly by the research done by ‘WhatsApp University’.
There is no denying that the size of our population is definitely at an elevated level. We have a young population that could easily have become a dividend if only had a conducive environment in place. At a time when we should have been focusing on female literacy and empowerment, we are wasting our time on discussing distorted messages generated by ‘WhatsApp University’.
Even if highly desirable, we know that is not an easy agenda to pursue. And such a journey, if pursued earnestly, does not lend itself to WhatsApp forwards that can confuse and polarise the people.
Mayank Mishra is a senior journalist who writes on Indian economy and politics, and their intersection.
This is an opinion piece and the views expressed in this article are that of the writer’s own.
Original Headline: Hindus ‘Dying Out’ & Muslim Population ‘Exploding’? Fact Vs Myth
Source: The Quint