Intro : Bharat is expected to have 311 million Muslims in 2050, which is 11 per cent of the global total. This will make India the largest population of Muslims in the world.
(Pew Research Centre, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/04/21/by-2050-india-to-have-worlds-largest-populations-of-hindus-and-muslims/)
Any data tends to be conveniently interpreted and many times used to address many insignificant things, missing the real message and policy imperatives behind it. With reference to the recently released religious census data, one of the prominent ‘secular’, ‘intellectual’ voices of Bharat Mani Shankar Aiyar said that it might lead to communal violence. While addressing MLAs in Delhi Assembly, Aiyar said, “Yester-day, the results of Census 2011 came out in which it is shown that the Muslim population is increasing by some decimals and the population of Hindu is decreasing which may lead to communal violence. I am hoping that the news of the Census is finished by tomorrow because it has no meaning. Neither will anyone be harmed nor any one will get any benefit through it.” It is strange that a representative of the party who nurtured the politics of ‘vote bank politics’ in the name of ‘secularism’, is now rubbishing the numbers on communal grounds and denying it’s policy relevance. Going beyond the secular-communal discourse, this data should be analysed and used in the national perspective.
It is clear from the data that the growth rate of Hindus and Muslim in Bharat is inversely proportionate and at least in the last three decades the imbalance is increasing. The figure of 24.6 percentage growth rate of Muslim population, which is 7 per cent higher than the national average of 17.7 per cent is alarming. It also means consecutive third time the community has registered such growth. The share of Muslims had risen by almost exactly the same 0.8 percentage points between 1981-1991 and 1991-2001 in total population of Bharat. Is this growth all about the growing size of Muslim families? Is it a larger conspiracy to Islamise Bharat? Is it to do just with the less economic development of the community as some reports claim? The moment we do the statewise analysis of the same data, we get some answers to these questions.
Lakshadweep and Jammu & Kashmir which are the Muslim majority regions are in tune with the national growth rate, while Pashchim Banga, Assam, Kerala, Uttaranchal, Haryana and Goa are showing abnormal growth of Muslim population. Even the Christian majority state like Nagaland has shown the remarkable increase of 0.9 per cent increase in the Muslim population.
If this increase does not correlate with the growing size of Muslim families all over Bharat, then two other reasons can be attributed to this above average growth rate. One is illegal migration and the other is conversion. Growth of Muslim population in Pashchim Banga and Assam definitely indicate the insidious illegal migration issue, while in other cases it can be linked to conversion issue. One may ask if it has to do with conversion then why it does not reflect in the increase of Christian population who are more professional in proselytising. The answer can be in caste categories. The census data invariably put people with SC/ST tag into Hindu category. The other religious groupings who are comparative insignificant in political parlance but more rooted in Bhartiya tradictions like Sikhs and Buddhists have actually declined in numbers, is also worrisome. Whenver indigenous failths have declined in numbers, the separatist tendencies increased is also a historical fact.
The ‘seculars’ like Mani Shankar Aiyar do not want to encounter with this reality. His raising of the communal tension bogie also answers the rationale behind UPA government not releasing the data earlier. Unless we accept that the issues brought up by this census are national concerns and come up with concrete policy measures about them, whole exercise of census would be a mere ritual.