One can well understand the rationale of the concern of bodies like Vishwa Hindu Parishad, RSS, Shiv Sena and others of the Hindu Parivar over the rising growth rate of Muslims in the country but one fails to understand why the UPA government led by the so-called secular parties should feel so touchy, jittery and perturbed over the disclosure of the excessive growth rate of Muslim population in the country by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner. They should rather welcome this phenomenon as it enhances their vote bank.
Most of the commentators and analysts in the national dailies have listed higher fertility rate, lower literacy rate, economic backwardness of Muslims as possible reasons leading to their higher growth rate but such correlations are often fallacious. Take for example the correlation between the literacy rate and the economic conditions of the people in a state. Kerala had the highest literacy rate (90.2 per cent) as compared to Maharashtra (77.27 per cent), Punjab (69.95 per cent), Haryana (68.59 per cent) in 2001 but it lagged behind Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra in terms of per capita state domestic product. Therefore, such correlations cannot be conclusively proved and may lead to wrong inferences or conclusions.
Ironically, no secular commentator has made even a slight mention of the infiltration of Muslims from Pakistan or Bangladesh as a possible factor contributing to higher Muslim growth rate in certain states during the period. However, comparative data on Hindu (H) and Muslim (M) growth rates in some states during 1991-2001 are worth serious notice and need to be critically analysed and interpreted. Here are a few examples of these growth rates (%): Rajasthan (H-27.93, M-35.82), Maharashtra (H-21.59, M-34.63) M.P. (H-10.43 (minus), M-17.02), Orissa (H-15.86,M 31.88), West Bengal (H-14.19,M 25.91), Tripura (H-14.86 M 29.40), Assam (H-14.95, M-29.30), Himachal Pradesh (H-16.97, M-34.08).
An excerpt from the Census Report for the period of 1951-1961 in respect of Assam is worth quoting here.
“Fresh Census in Assam border areas suggested”……has suggested to the government that it should hold ‘fresh Census’ in at least the border areas of Assam to verify the observations of the Census Commissioner that the Muslim population of Assam had gone up by 38.56 per cent …..and had increased by 7,69,573 from 19,95,936 in 1951 to 27,65,509 in 1961.
“The Census Commissioner had said that after giving due allowance to possible reasons for the increase in the Muslim population of Assam, the quantum of Pakistani infiltrators during 1951-1961 decade could be estimated at about 2,50,000.”
It can be inferred from the above report that in February 1961, 10 per cent of the Muslim population of Assam was that of Pakistani infiltrators. In those days, Bangladesh was called East Pakistan. Did the Nehru government investigate into this matter which posed such a serious danger to the security of the country? If not, why not? Perhaps, secularism as practiced in India, regards such infiltration as insignificant or rather a strengthening bond for the secular political parties in power. It is not the job of the Census Commissioner to find out who amongst the Muslims are Pakistani or Bangladeshi infiltrators or what is their exact quantum. It is the job of the Home Ministry to find out their number and whether or not this factor has contributed to the higher Muslim growth rate. It is for the Home Ministry to explain the true position rather than punish the Census Commissioner for disclosing facts unpalatable to the ruling party. One fails to understand the stake of the Congress Party involved in this exposure.