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Published in the 1-15 Oct 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition


Muslim growth rate: myth and reality

Recently released census statistics has erupted another euphoria in the Muslim community. Ironically this growth of Muslim population, as per the 2001 census’ outcome whisked the foul cry of Venkaiah Naidu, BJP president intricately, galvanized the fact that BJP is still trying to fruition its ideology even after the seething defeat in the general elections. The scintillating demographic outcome, as per the Hindutva think tanks, has exposed the fear of clandestine intimidations and hallucinations that might goose their modus operandi led by RSS, BJP and their coterie. It has reinforced stereotypes about the Muslim community.

The major highlights of the census report are that the growth rate of the Hindu population has fallen drastically in the decade 1991-2001 compared to 1981-1991, while the Muslims have had rapid growth in a situation where several experimental genocides have been practiced to paralyze Muslims by dodging them in form of riots and killings. The reverse outcome is a gloom for the fanatics and their handiwork to dominate Indian demography.

The Muslims, on the other hands, need not feel cheer for the unexpected growth that they are increasing in number and if the pace continues the dream to have Islamic rule in India would materialize. The other ugly side remains awoke because both Hindus and Muslims have stippled significant falls in population growth rate. The impression about a rising population growth of Muslims is imperfect and a false assumption instead of statistically accurate eminence.

The fact remains unstated that the 1991 census did not include Jammu & Kashmir, the only Muslim majority state, while the 2001 census does include Jammu & Kashmir, hence Mr. Naidu should understand arithmetics before leaping and weeping for the false cause. The actual data, after inclusion of Jammu & Kashmir adjusts that growth rate of Muslims slashes down from 36% to 29.3% and Hindus are only marginally affected. Even if Jammu & Kashmir is excluded now, the figure of Muslim population growth in the year 2001 from 1991-2001 was 29.3% even lesser than the near 33% growth figure of 1981-1991. The statistics of the same census reveal that the Hindu growth rate, which is 19.9%, is rapid and manageable calculation. The corresponding figure for the Hindu growth rate between 1981-1991 was 22.8%.

A thorough study of the census details of last two decades and the aftermath of it with proper calculation suggests a completely different picture portrayed by the recent census. Muslim population growth has slowed down by 3.5 percentage points which is faster than the Hindu population growth which lost merely 2.9 percentage points at the same juncture. One of the shocking revelations (that Mr. Naidu dose not want to understand) is that the child sex ratio has worsened since 1991. One of the major reasons attributed to the alarming decline is female foeticide and the rising popularity of sex determination tests despite these being barred by the law.

Instead of keeping oneself happy for the growth in quantity, Muslims need to understand the grass root problems and other anarchies. The 36% population growth rate (including Jammu & Kashmir) is enough to assume growth where lower involvement in economic activities, which is mere 31.3% and low literacy rate of 59.1%--much below the average national literacy rate of 64.8% is a matter of concern and reminds us that we are still doomed to a repressed growth.

Asif Anwar Alig

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