Religious census 2001
Following are MG editor, Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan’s replies to questions posed by Mr Divakar of Outlook Hindi magazine:
What is ur opinion and perception about this census report?
This is a direct result of the BJP policies pushed by Advani as home minister. He introduced the religious census which had been discontinued for the previous two decades; encouraged the idea that Muslims are multiplying faster than Hindus (remember Modi's Hum paanch, hamarey pachchis). Advani financed a dubious book, wrote its introduction and released it. This book tried to prove this (Religious demography of India by Joshi et.al.). BJP's appointments in high posts were largely political and therefore it is not far-fetched that the current census commissioner was handpicked by Advani with this very specific task in mind. This commissioner was further betrayed by the unprecedented fanfare with which he released his religious census without clearly telling the media that J&K and Assam figures were NOT included in the 1991 census and without telling the press that many previously "Hindu" communities are now
preferring to register themselves separately, like Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Lingayats etc and this has resulted in the lower growth figures. Though the figures were later partially corrected, this has given the communal elements like VHP an issue they will keep harping for many years to come.
What are the main problems which this census report indicates?
This census only corroborates a global truth, that poor and illiterate multiply faster than affluent classes. Children are a burden for affluent classes which are keen to maintain their standards of living while children are an added hand to work and earn for poor classes. The obvious and natural reaction should have been to ask for an expert report about the causes of this phenomenon than to consider it as a political issue to beat another community with.
Moreover, the male-female ration raises some very pertinent moral and legal issues in our society and these should be taken up urgently to do justice to the Indian woman.
How do u consider this controversy? Are not politicians trying to divert attention from the main problems, i.e. high growth in population, sex ratio etc.?
These are not political issues or problems. Rather they are social and developmental issues which should be tackled on the expert and technical level and not on the political and partisan level. After all every Indian is equally Indian and the Indian state is responsible for the growth and development of all sections and segments of the Indian society.
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