By Dr D.P. Sharma
The pattern of population growth in India is glaringly uneven which needs a cool, dispassio-nate, and deeper analysis with special reference to its political implications.
Population is not just a number; it has become an important player in democratic politics. The community with the largest number becomes a non-entity. This creates different psychologies among the majority and minority communities. The minority community everywhere in the world is living with the same psychological impulse to increase their numerical strength in order to wrest a greater share in power. Religious faith is another factor that works to rationalise and strengthen this impulse. Therefore, the asymmetric population growth in a pluralistic society like India has significant political dimensions, which should not be brushed aside so thoughtlessly as is done here.
Quebec is a very interesting example to illustrate this point. Quebec is a province of Canada which has a mixed population of the English and the French immigrants. The English settlers are largely Protestants who practise family planning but the French settlers are Catholics who abhor family planning. In course of time, the population of the French settlers became large enough to demand separate statehood for Quebec. In a referendum conducted last on this issue, the integrity of Canada remained intact with a small margin, but the danger still looms large.
Many European nations including Britain, France and Spain are facing separation threats from minority groups. Minorities are no more silent groups; they have gone to the extent of adopting terrorist means to achieve their separatist aim. Many nations on the globe are badly disturbed by these minority groups. So, a disproportionate population growth of any minority community above the national average is not in the interest of any nation, particularly when the minority community has a political ideology which is antithetical to democratic values, as we find with the Muslim fundamentalist groups, no matter where they are.
Muslims in India are the largest minority group with a population larger than the Muslim population in Pakistan or Bangladesh. They are very united and reactive. They are an influential pressure group and they know the art of extracting the maximum benefits from the government. The growth rate of Muslims exceeds by 10 per cent over the growth rate of Hindus and it was even more during the previous decades.
Britain, France and Spain are facing separation threats from minority groups. Minorities are no more silent groups; they have gone to the extent of adopting terrorist means to achieve their separatist aim.
According to the Census report published on September 7, 2004, the figures show a growth rate of the Hindus´ decline by 4.8 per cent in the period 1981-91 to 1991-2001 from 25.1 per cent to 20.3 per cent, while the Muslim population grew about 1.5 per cent from 34.5 to 36 per cent. The difference comes to 16 per cent. According to the adjusted Census report published on September 10, 2004 the growth rate of the Muslims declined to 29.3 per cent from 32.9 per cent and growth rate of the Hindus declined from 22.8 per cent to 19.8 per cent. Even according to the adjusted Census report, the difference in the growth rates comes to 10 per cent which cannot be said to be marginal.
A particular breed of political leaders, writers and journalists came out to justify the excessive growth rate among the Muslim community on the grounds of poverty and illiteracy, but this is applicable to the poorer sections of the Hindu community too; the Muslim community has a certain political aim supported by a religious faith that is prompting them to produce more children, even at the cost of their own suffering.
Hamid Dalwai, an angry, young crusader against communalism, has candidly written on this issue. He writes:
?All Muslim leaders unanimously complain that injustice is done to Muslims in India. However, they have a strange definition of injustice. They suggest, indirectly no doubt, that the very fact that India has a Hindu majority is in itself a great injustice to Muslims. How else can one understand the programme of the Mashawarat which demands sovereign rights for the Muslim community? In their own way, Muslim leaders are continuously trying to remove this injustice. One of the methods of ensuring justice is to claim that Pakistani infiltrators in Assam are not Pakistani at all. A second method is to demand the granting of Indian citizenship to those Pakistanis who are illegal residents of Bihar, West Bengal and some other states of India. A third method is to oppose family planning. A professor from Aligarh University was quite frank about this. He said: ?Hindus cannot keep us permanently in a minority. Remember the history of Canada? How did the question of Quebec arise? Those citizens of Quebec who are of English origin are Protestants and they practise family planning. But those who are of French origin are Catholics who never planned their families nor are doing so even today. As a result, the number of French-speaking Catholics in Quebec has increased in relation to the number of English-speaking Protestants. Now the French-speaking Catholics have started protecting their own rights and interests. We shall follow the same example. If not today, fifty years hence; if not fifty, a hundred years hence. This country will eventually be swept by an Islamic tide.? The professor was quite forthright in expressing his views. There are other leaders of Indian Muslims who say the same thing although they couch it in clever phrases. They say, ?Our religion does not permit family planning. Grant us the freedom to practise our religion?.?
The Urdu newspaper Radiance, commenting on the report of the last Census in India, said, ?In the last ten years the Muslim population in India has increased by 4 per cent more than the Hindus. Therefore, Muslims need not despair about their future,? (Muslim Politics in India, p. 63/6.)
He further says that according to the Muslims, the only solution to their problems ?is the establishment of an Islamic State in India. The Jammat-e-Islami has already a programme to achieve this objective. And if they fail to achieve it, then they would seek to establish within the sovereign State of India a sovereign Islamic society. This idea of a State within a State and society within society, appeals to them?the Majalis-e-Mashawarat has demanded that the Indian Parliament should have no power to legislate in matters concerning Indian Muslims. Salahuddin Owesi publicly suggested, ?There should be a separate Muslim State within each state of India?,? (ibid, p.64).
In some newspapers we read articles in which the authors have advised that 80 crore Hindus need not fear from 13 crore Muslims. This is a very facile consolation. Today, there are 13 per cent Muslims only, but they are powerful enough to make most of the political leaders bow before them and when their population will increase to 30 per cent, they will easily capture power and many Man Singhs and Jai Singhs will help them establish an Islamic State in India. On many occasions, the timidity of the Hindus terrified Mahatma Gandhi and he woefully remarked that ?every Hindu is a coward and every Muslim is a bully.?
To those Hindus who hold such passive views, Hamid Dalwai wants to say: ?Some Muslims went to even a further extent?(and) asked me, ?We were the rulers of the country. Do you want us now to become slaves??Fight the Hindus. We are still capable of fighting them?Give us your support. If all Muslims unite we can easily defeat the Hindus. With their unflinching faith Muslims can defeat even the most formidable enemy. This is the lesson of Islam. Please remember the battle of Babr?,? (Ibid. 64).
The facts stated above by Hamid Dalwai are well-testified facts and well known to many. Gandhi, Patel and Nehru also knew of these facts but the present generation of the Congress is not ready to accept these plain facts. There was nothing wrong when Venkaiah Naidu, the BJP president, said that ?the Census data indicate a threat to the unity and integrity of India in the long run.? If the Congress sees any ?perversion? in his statement, it is its own perversion.
(The writer is Chairman, Mahatma Gandhi Sarvodaya Mission, B1/79, Phase-II, Ashok Vihar, Delhi-110 052.)