Volume 6, No. 4, April 2005


Census 2001 :

Communal Hysteria and Distorted View on Population

Dr. Gupta


A criminal conspiracy was laid out by the Census Commissioner by bringing out the Census Report (2001) falsely projecting Indian Muslims’ increasing birth rate. The communal butchers fell to the Report with an uncanny readiness to whip up communal hysteria targeting the Muslims for another round of minority cleansing operation. Waves of protests from various quarters forced the Census Commissioner to retrace his steps with the lame excuse citing ‘mistakes’. What he called error is a notorious design to destroy the peace and amity the common people of all communities burdened with monumental problems so much love to preserve. Indian history is a witness to the flare-up of communal passions when the 1901 Census Report under the direct rule of the British also cunningly showed that there occurred a decline in the Hindu growth rate. Each and every Census since then has generated a false notion among the credulous and proved to be the deliberate perverter of the truth that the Hindus will soon be outnumbered by the Muslims. In the recent past the Hindutva ideologues in India frequently raised a hue and cry that all Muslim males and females do possess more fertility than their Hindu counterparts for, their Islamic faith and avoidance of family planning. Such a baseless and fantastic view is incessantly propagated in India as a part of the grand communal design for minority baiting and cleansing. The fiction, not fact, is music to the communalist forces.

Manufacturing Hysteria

The Hindutva rumour mill has been consistent in emphasizing that Indian Muslims have been increasing much faster that the Hindus. As Hindus = Hinduism = Indian nationalism is the stock-in-trade for the communalists, it is no wonder that they are always at the ready to train the communal guns on the Muslims by sheer strength of statistical jugglery. On 6 September the Census of India for 2001 was made public with a dubious aim to stoke the fire of religious fanaticism. The first report presented a false picture by including the Jammu and Kashmir population figures for 2001 for comparison when the state was excluded from the census count of 1991. Naturally such comparative figures for the decadal periods would give a false picture. Not only that, Assam where no census was conducted in 1981 was included for showing population growth. The massive protests by demographers, media and democratic people forced the commissioner to recoil and withdraw the first manufactured report for 2001. The report that brought out later after adjustments showed that instead of increase in the growth rate of the Muslim population actually decreased in the decadal period. But why should the Sangh Parivar desist from spewing communal venom that is its forte? Let’s see what they are up to even after knowing the reality. A leaflet of the BJP West Bengal state committee now in December 2004 still sticks to falsehood for brain washing. The cooked up figure is as under

Rate of Population Growth as Propagated by the BJP Rumour Mill
















Now let’s take a look at the fact that debunks the above. It is noteworthy that unadjusted growth rates as shown at first are quite unusual in census history. After adjustment, the revised census for 2001 spikes the above BJP produced figures. Muslim population growth rate in fact declined by 3.5 percentage points compared a 2.9 percentage point decline in Hindu growth rate between decades 1981-91 and 1991-2001. This made it crystal clear that the Muslim growth rate had declined faster that the Hindu growth rate [The Times of India, September 8, 2004].

The break-up of the religion-based demographic structure in the Census 2001 shows that in India, Hindus comprise 82.7 crore (80.5%), Muslims 13.8 crore, Christians 2.4 crore, Sikhs 1.9 crore, Buddhists 79 lakh, Jains 42 lakh and others 66 lakh. It is found that the rate of Christian population growth increased by 1.3% compared to the earlier decade, while Buddhists and Sikhs decreased by 10.8% and 16.3% respectively. Among the Sikhs out of every 1,000 people women members are only 893, a dangerous trend in the demographic character. A similar picture is found at the all-India level where the male-female ratio stands at 1000:933. Such damaging consequence of a declining women population is not worthy of concern to the communalist Sangh Parivar. Like the Nazis in Hitler’s Germany who targeted the Jew for all the cause of crisis there in the 1930s and early 1940s, the BJP and its fascist wings concentrate all fire solely on the Muslims for the irrecoverable crisis gripping India.

The Sangh Parivar in its satanic campaigns drums it into the ears of the common people that the fertility rate among Muslims is higher and it is rooted in Islam? What can be more ridiculous than this? Those bone-headed communalists conveniently forget that religious beliefs can never be a booster for the reproductive capacity of people. In the Hindu Puranas and scriptures the names of scores of offspring begotten by Munis/Rishis (sages) are proudly stated. People like Lalu Prasad Yadav fathered a number of children. Can any sensible person link such a fact with the religious belief of the persons concerned? The Hindu communalists pretend not to know the Koranic dictum, far ahead of many other religions, on family planning. Secondly, had Islam been linked to fertility people of Indonesia, with its majority Muslim population, would see a faster rate of growth of Muslims. In fact there the growth of the Muslim population is lower (total fertility rate is 2.6%) than India with its majority Hindu population (total fertility rate is 3.2%). [U.N: Demographic Year Book, Deptt. of Economic and Social affairs, New York, 2002]. So also the fertility rate of the Bangladeshi Muslims has declined for various reasons. So it is pure and simple falsehood to relate Muslim fertility to Islam.

Hindu fanatics of the Sangh Parivar have been over active to harp on the same string that since Muslim men can have four wives they produce more children than the Hindus. First of all we once again stress that Islam is in principle favorable to family planning. Obviously, such family planning was not suggested in view of ‘population explosion’ or the like in the sixth century A.D. Recent studies have clearly shown that polygamy is not necessarily related to high fertility. Rather just the reverse. It is found that women in polygamous marriages do have lower fertility. The Sangh Parivar is vocal for a uniform marriage code caring little for the ground reality. Those communalists suppress the fact that in Bangladesh the minority Hindus can marry more than one girl and there also Hindus oppose the uniform marriage code. The census of India 1971 clearly botched the rumor that the prevalence of polygamous marriages is higher among Muslims than among the Hindus. Actually speaking, only the rich among the Hindus and Muslims can afford to have many wives. The common Indian masses of all religions cannot imagine of indulging in such ‘luxuries’.

What the communalists conceal is that Muslims are generally lagging far behind the Hindus in respect of education, service, literacy, etc. The Census 2001 clearly shows that the level of literacy was 65% among the Hindus while it was 59% among the Muslims. The work participation gap was 40.4% (for the Hindus) and 31.3% (for the Muslims) This cogently proves that Muslims in India are way behind the Hindus in the socio-economic scale.

There are obviously a rich section among the Muslims, but a rational consideration of the Muslim population as a whole in India makes a pointed reference to the more backward and more exploited conditions of the Muslims in India.

The religious fanatics shall not consider these basics. They shall not take a look at even the govt. statistics on poverty, pathetic condition of the people without potable water, sanitation, proper health facilities, high death rate of children, child labour, pathetic plight of women in India and such crucial problems facing the people. The Sangh Parivar propaganda needs to be answered befittingly by facts. Such vile propaganda needs to be rebuffed by emphasizing the fact that population is a resource of a country and that every Indian reserves the right to practise any religion or abjure religion. India is not exclusively for the Hindus; it is a land for all religious people. Religion is a question for our private life. The question of increase or decrease of certain religion is of little significance to a common Indian. What matters to him or her is whether there is a guarantee to live on this land free of perennial problems of food, shelter and livelihood and whether the land is free form semi-colonial and semi-feudal exploitation, and the diktat and threat to his or her very existence.

The Illusion of Population Problem

The bogey of over population is whipped up by some economists and bourgeois intellectuals to establish the fact as if India’s problems are rooted in the huge number of people. For the chocked employment, acute poverty, shortage of housing, crowded roads, buses and trains, practically for all such problems related to livelihood the scapegoat is India’s population. With such a myopic diagnosis of India’s ills, a simultaneous and poisonous arrow is targeted against the supposed population-rise among the minorities. This type of convenient and false diagnosis was also made during the colonial period when for recurrent famines the demographic factor was easily projected as the chronic malady of British India. Such a cry was heard in the 1950s and 1960s when India suffered crop failure and the food problem turned out to be graver and graver under this semi-feudal land system.

The British economist Malthus cooked up the theory that the yardstick of measuring the population factor – proper or optimal or explosive – would be based on the supply of food. The Maltusian theory made out a case for the scarcity of food supposedly lying in the over population of a country. If a country could not feed its people, Malthus trotted the argument; the country should be considered as over populated. If this Malthusian bone-headed theory is accepted one is driven to the conclusion that England, the highly developed and powerful imperialist country surely falls among the over-populated countries. It has a population of 60 million and can produce crops for only 3 months. For that population England imports food to feed its population to make up the deficit. It exports capital goods and imports food from the USA, Canada, etc. Many other advanced countries import food grains.

The economists in the Maltusian school, variously relate population growth to the national income growth rate. Here also lies a very relevant questions: how do we consider income distribution? Is the national income more or less equally distributed? In any case, even the current day economists outside the Marxian school argue that if the rate of national income growth is higher that the rate of population growth then a country can not be regarded as being over-populated. The preachers of Malthusian economists and such protagonists in India are at a loss to explain the fact how India is over-populated in their yardstick when in the decade starting from 1991-2000 population in India grew at an annual growth rate of 2.1% but the national income range grew faster by 5% to 6%. The governmental projection of growth itself nails the theory of population explosion.

The crux of the problem is not rooted in a population explosion but in extremely unequal distribution of income and wealth. Actually speaking, it is an amateurish exercise of some people to single out India’s huge population without considering the context and the reality of the problems. If we take a look at the population structure of any country in Europe or even a small country like Japan, we shall be baffled by the clear fact as to how baseless is the crude relationship between population and economic prosperity. The most important question is related to the natural and other productive resources of a country, the system of distribution of wealth and the question of population as human resource.

Among the economists, there is a practice to posit the population question in respect of land use. In this yardstick the density or even the question of population problem, if any, is judged considering the number of people’s concentration per square mile of land. Even with this measuring rod India is way below the European countries. India’s average population density is 330% per sq. km. Compared to the world’s 40% per sq. km. Secondly, statistics show that of India’s 330 million hectares, only 46% was under cultivation and 22 percent of the land is forest covered. And till date, 18% of cultivable land lies uncultivated. The rulers of India, the govt. funded economists and communalists purposely propagate such a baseless view on the state of over-population to divert the general people’s attention from the perpetual problems caused by the semi-colonial and semi-feudal system in India.





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