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Hate speech and despicable lies
Ram Puniyani 

Contrary to Modi’s lies and Sangh’s fabrications, Muslims are least polygamous of all Indians 

One of the major factors in perpetuation of communal violence is the doctoring of the mass consciousness. The social common sense is manufactured in such a way that the targeted community is made to appear as the culprit. And that’s how so many myths proliferate about the minorities. Apart from the historical myths those related to demographics are playing a dangerous role in the demonisation of Muslims.

In a way, what Modi said is nothing new as far as social common sense is concerned. Modi’s statement during his gaurav yatra about Muslims, “We five,ours twenty-five. For this, we have to teach a lesson to those who are increasing the population at an alarming rate”, has been resented even by the BJP top brass who, at a deeper level, believe that what Modi said was true. It is the propagation of stereotypes by communal outfits that gives it credibility. These falsehoods are spread by members of the Sangh Parivar. So, why this ersatz resentment against Modi by leaders like Vajpayee and Venkaiah Naidu ?

The Sangh does it in a way that the electoral wing does not have to resort to this propaganda. The RSS, VHP, Bajarang Dal and others are there to do this job, to prepare the ground for the electoral benefit of Hindutva. The electoral wing, the BJP, has to ensure that it keeps a neutral face to win over even the “enemies” (Muslims, Christains and Communists) of Hindu nation, as defined by MS Golwalkar, the guru of Sangh Parivar. While Modi out of desperation wants to ensure the post-carnage consolidation of Hindu vote, this strategy may have adverse repercussions on the overall strategy of the BJP. Hence the reprimand to the emerging hero of Hindutva, Narendra Modi. As such what are the facts behind the Ham Panch Hamare Pachis, (a derogarory reference to supposed Muslim attitude to family planning)? Does demographic data support this construct, which comes in handy especially before the riots to build up the atmosphere. The census surveys by religion negate this popular belief. Religion is one of the markers used in these surveys. As per the 1971 survey, Hindus constituted 82.7 percent and Muslims 11.2 percent of the population. The corresponding figures for 1991 census are Hindus 82.6 percent and Muslims 11.4 per cent, (Malayalam Manorama, 1992). The marginal difference in the growth pattern, as we will see a bit later, has more to do with socio-economic factors than religious ones. Over all, this statistics shows a reasonably stable population ratio. That apart, even if the current differentials persist, it is not only unlikely, but also impossible for the Muslim population to overtake the Hindu population. On the contrary, if the prevailing growth rates are analysed, it will be clear that between 1961-71 and 1971-81,Hindu population increase went up from 23.71 to 24.42 percent, while between the same periods Muslim population increase went down from 30.85 to 30.20 percent. If these rates of growths are frozen at the same level a hundred years from 1981, Hindus and Muslims will record a decadal growth rate of 30.71 and 30.55 percent respectively, i.e., growth rates of Hindus would be higher.

Similarly, the myth of four wives to each Muslim male. Is it possible at all? On first count it is immaterial whether a man is having one or more wives as the total number of children depends on the number of women, which does not get influenced by polygamy. If at all, this number of women has more to do with the prevalence of social practice of female infanticide and bride burning in the areas where the practice of extortion by parents of bridegrooms called dowry is prevalent. Secondly, the male/female ratio cannot permit the luxury of four wives to the Muslim males unless three-fourths (75%) of them go without marriage. As per, the 1981 census the male/female ratio for Muslims was 1,068, and for Hindus 1,072, i.e., for every 1000 Muslim females there are 1068 Muslim males. One has to undertake gigantic mental acrobatics, in the light of these statistics, to believe that all Muslim males can have four wives.

Slightly earlier but relevant statistics of polygamy (1961 census report) exposes the myth of Muslim polygamy, unless the social trends have changed drastically, which obviously have not. As per this, the incidence of polygamy is highest among the Adivasis (15.25) followed by Buddhists (7.9), Jains (6.72) Hindus (5.80) and, lo and behold, followed by Muslims (5.70). Research carried out by Mallika B Mistry of Gokhle Institute of Pune, concludes “there is no evidence that the percentage of polygamous marriages (among Muslims) is larger than for Hindus.”

A comparison of nuptiality patterns for Hindus and Muslims shows great similarity. The incidence of polygamy has been declining among both Hindus and Muslims. It is interesting to draw religion-based fertility patterns. These patterns differ within Muslim community itself and vary from region to region as per the socio-economic and educational levels of the community concerned. Those in the better off socio-economic and educational classes have a lesser population increase, while those on the lower rungs of socio-economic and educational ladder have a higher rate of population growth. This conforms to regional, urban and rural distribution as well.

Birth rates in Malabar region of Kerala, whose Muslim population is 40 percent, are significantly lower than those in Uttar Pradesh with a Muslim population of 15 percent. The contrasting case is that of Kashmir, a Muslim majority state. Here the fertility rate of Hindus is almost twice that of Muslims. Here again the birth rate was lower (31.4 per thousand) than in U.P (36.5), MP (36.4), Bihar( 34.8) and Rajasthan (33.4).

The overall rate of population increase in educationally and socially advanced states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, is lower both for Muslims and Hindus, compared to the rest of the country. Let us have a look at urban-rural divide. More than one-third of the Muslim community is concentrated in the peripheral and decaying areas of urban economic life. Incidence of urban poverty is higher among them by 17 percent (vis-a-vis Hindus). The number of Muslims living below poverty line is close to 65 percent. They are generally living in older areas of modern cities, which are well known for poor sanitation, lack of health facilities and basic amenities. On top of this, the repeated outburst of communal violence is ghettoising them, with the result that improvement in their lot is becoming more and more difficult.

There are multiple factors determining the rate of population growth, religion being very low on weightage scale, if at all it counts. Socio-economic betterment and education are the foremost factors helping in the control of population. Feeling of insecurity and poor socio-economic status counter the efforts to promote family planning, and these two factors transcend the religious one. 

Lastly, what about Muslims not taking to family planning? In Muslim countries like Turkey and Indonesia, family planning methods are quite popular. In Turkey, for example, 63 percent of the population in the reproductive age group uses contraception and in Indonesia the figure is 48 per cent. In India the number of Muslim couples in the child bearing age practising family planning in 1970 was 9 percent (Hindus 14 percent) and in 1980, 22.5 percent (Hindus 36.1 percent) according to an ORG report of 1957. The number of additional Muslims taking to family planning is keeping pace with the number of Hindus doing the same. As with other social programmes, family planning too is linked with socio-economic status and level of general social awareness. We repeatedly encounter a large number of Muslims in the lower socio-economictrata sharing these statistics more with other socially disadvantaged sections of society.

Narendra Modi’s use of abusive language to distort the demographic facts does not come as a surprise as it has been the fodder on which Hindutva communalism has been feeding to strengthen itself. 

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