By Dr kouser Fathima,
The release of data about Indian population based on religion has shattered many preconceived notions. The fear among the majority hard liners that Muslim population is increasing rapidly and very soon India will see a population inversion has been busted. Yes the population of Muslims has increased but is not as huge as otherwise projected. In fact the Muslim growth rate has shown reduction, which is commendable and need to sustain this for the next decade.
According to the survey , in 2001-2011, the population increased as follows:
Muslims 3.42 crore
Christians 38 lakhs
So there is an increase of 0.8% in Muslim population. The growth rate has declined from 30% in 2001 to 24% in 2011 but is still higher than the national average growth rate of total population i.e. 17.7% .
The other positive point is Muslims have shown better gender ratio. Assam and West Bengal have seen increase in Muslim population followed by Kerala and UP. Meghalaya and Odisha show lowest growth of Muslims.
The figures clearly show that Muslim population has decreased though not on par with others . Increase education of females and easy access to medical advice regarding family planning are two important factors for the reduced growth rate.
One should mention there the raising prices and increased cost of living also have acted as deterrent for bigger families. In educated and urban Muslim class, the number of children is on an average 3 or less. People from lower strata in cities are also opting for smaller families.
Noor Ahmed, a fruit vendor in Bengaluru has three children. Rashida who herself had 5 daughters has made sure her daughters have only two children, irrespective of whether they are sons or daughters.
Shakila, who works as a domestic help, has 3 daughters and wants her children to get good education and better life. In spite of pressure from her in laws and husband for a son, she has decided not to have more children. It must not have been easy for an illiterate woman like her to stand firm but desire for a better life for her daughters has made her strong.
These and many such stories break the myth that Muslims want to have more children. Most large families are seen in rural areas, where family planning methods are not easily available as some of these areas have hardly any good medical facilities.
Family pressure to have male offspring is also another issue which needs to be addressed. But both these reasons are not specific only for Muslims rather common for all. Population increase should be seen as national problem not as community specific.
Although many would point out the decrease in Hindu population, many reasons like their migration to western countries, where they get citizenship and hence are not counted as citizens of that country should also be taken into consideration. Comparatively more Muslims usually go to Middle East, where citizenship is never granted even if they spent their entire life in these countries.
Interestingly around 2.9 million have not mentioned their religion, hence declaring themselves as atheist. Assuming that majority of them would be born Hindus who are now atheist, too must be taken into consideration.
Assuming that population of both communities would grow in the same rate , it would take another 260 years for Muslims to overtake the majority community . In short the fear of population inversion is baseless, only spread by hate mongrels to create panic and incite each other.
Fringe elements from the majority community have already started calling for more children, some even want five kids from one family. Seeing this, the fringe elements from Muslims will also try to do similarly and if people from both communities start listening to them, their will only be population explosion. The results of such an explosion would be disastrous for all.
Rather than spreading fear and panic, aim should be to tackle the population growth. Education, proper access to health care and gender equality will help reduce population growth.
(Dr Kouser Fathima is a Bengaluru based writer. She can be reached [email protected])