Indian Census and Muslim population growth

Vinod Kumar

Note: This paper was prepared for Second Human Empowerment Conference in Septtember 2004 but was not delivered as I was unable to attend it.

In delivering Arvind Ghosh Memorial Lecture, nothing would be more appropriate than to talk about Islam and Muslims. Arvind Ghosh devoted a large part of his life to the study of this subject. He was one of the few who actively talked about the reality of Islam when the rest of world was completely unaware of it. How prophetic has his work been?

2. Last year in my Arvind Ghosh Memorial Lecture I had explored "What is Jihad?" from its core scriptures -- the Koran and the Hadis. Today I will talk about a current subject -- Indian Census and Muslim population growth.

3. India Census 2001, recently released, is in the news today. What are its long term implications?

4. I, personally, was not at all surprised; alarmed, yes -- but surprised -- no, by the "revelations" of the Census 2001. The Muslim population growth in India at one and half times the rate of Hindu population growth rate is no "revelation" and given the Hindu mindset and priorities neither is the decline in the rate of growth of Hindu population.. The broad outlines have been there for centuries for anyone to see, if only one was willing to face the reality.

5. In broad terms, the Muslim population in India has been growing in geometrical progression vis--vis Hindus who have been growing in arithmetical progression. And with the improvement of educational and economic level of the Hindus, the disparity has become even more pronounced. To put it in broader perspective, Muslim population has steadily grown from 13% in 1800 to 16% in 1850 to 20% in 1900 to 25% in 1947 and anywhere between 30 to 33% today taking into account the geographical area of pre-partitioned India. These statistics are available from various sources.

The high rate of Muslim population is not unique to India alone. Barring the isolated case of Indonesia, Muslim population growth outpaces almost every other group in just about any country in the world..

6. Almost ten years ago, I had analyzed the 1961 and 1991 census. The growth disparity even in the two were almost identical to one between the 1991 and 2001. Between 1961 and 1991 Muslim population had grown by 133.66% as compared to Hindu growth of 89.24% -- the Muslim population growth being 150% of the Hindu population growth.

7. To bring it up to date -- Between 1961 and 2001, in absolute numbers, the Hindu population has grown from 366 million to 827 million - a growth of 126% while the Muslim population in the same period grew from 47 million to 138 million -- a growth of 193 per cent. The Muslim population growth was consistent at about 50 per cent higher than the Hindu population. What is more alarming is that Hindu population growth rate has declined from 25% in the previous decades to about 20% in the decade preceding the Census while the Muslim population growth , if not increased, as the initial data had indicated, it has almost remained constant, and if declined, only marginally so. It is still a high of around 30%. The hoopla caused by census 2001 release just goes to show the hypocrisy of politicians of all hues. The controversy regarding the lack of census in J&K and Assam in 1991 and 1981 respectively, while it may satisfy the appetite of the secularists, is insignificant in broader terms.

8.Some of the striking features of Muslim population are

8a. The lowest growth rates of Muslim, while still higher than that of the Hindus, are in the south. Tamil Nadu recording the lowest with 13.7 per cent followed by Kerala (15.9), Andhra Pradesh ( 17.9) and Karnataka (23) while the largest Muslim population growth has come from what are border states of Assam, Meghalaya, West Bengal, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and J&K.

8b. Even more alarming is the fact that the percentage of population in the age group of 0-6 years was maximum among Muslims at 18.7 per cent as compared to 15.6% among the Hindus and 15.9% the national average. With further declining population growth rate among the Hindus, the percentage rate of Muslim children in the lower age bracket is only likely to go up. This is a significant 20% above the rate among the Hindus. The Muslim population percentage in the age group 0 - 6 is 15.8% as compared to 13.4% overall.

This is indication of the shape of population mix in the future. With higher rate of Muslim population growth it will only increase.


9. Some have put forward the argument that the Muslims being minority feel threatened and hence they need to increase in numbers, holds no water. Muslim population growth in India has been actually slightly less than in Pakistan where no threat to Muslims exist. Between 1961 and 1998, its population (96.28 % Muslim) grew from 43 million to 132 million - a growth of 207 per cent -- at the annual growth rate of 3.092%. The annual growth of Muslim population in India between 1961 and 2001 has been 2.7367%.

10. High Muslim population growth is in fact a part of a greater global plan to make Islam the dominant religion in the world by sheer demographics. In all fairness to Muslims, their religious leaders and most rank and file are quite open about why the Muslims want to increase their population at a faster rate. As many Muslim leaders have pointed out they are not interested in "quality of life" -- they are interested in "the quantity of the Muslim population". In the aftermath of Census release when one Muslim leader called for Muslims to practice birth control, other Muslim scholars rebuffed him and called for more children of Islam and some women groups have publicly protested against the proposed family planning..

11. This strategy has paid off. Muslim population growth, specially in North Africa, has filled the vacuum of declining birth rates in Europe. Demographers for several years now have been predicting that at the latest by the end of this century, Muslims will outnumber non-Muslims in Europe and it will become an extension of Arabia. Some have even called it Eurabia. Their strategy is simple -- take over the world by demographics.

12. Political pundits of "secular hue" in India lost no time in linking the high rate of Muslim population growth to Muslim backwardness -- both economic and educational; and if not directly so, at least by implication that it is the fault of India -- read Hindu -- government that the Muslims of India are backward. Muslim backwardness, though not a subject of this paper is not unique to India. Muslim backwardness, both economic and educational, as studies have shown is prevalent in the UK and Europe also. See http://vinodkumar.voiceofdharma.org/articles/backwardness.htm

13. The myth of linking high population growth with lack of education has been amply demolished by the census itself. Muslim literacy of 59.1% in India is really not that much lower than those of the Hindus at 65.1% and in some states, it is even higher than those of Hindus. Even in those states, the Muslim population growth is still higher than those of the Hindus.

For example in Kerala, the Muslim literacy rate is 90 per cent and still their growth rate is 16 per cent in comparison to state population growth of 9.4 per cent. Similar is the situation in many states like Maharashtra, Gujarat and some others.

14. An impression is created in the media that the Muslims in India are victims of discrimination by the Hindus. No political commentator has bothered to inform the people that literacy rate of Muslims (59.1%) in India is considerably higher than those of Muslims in Pakistan at 43.92% (1998 Census).

15. Now the question arises what are long term implications of growing percentage of Muslim population for the Hindus? Many secularists like to downplay what it means in the future specially since the highest population growth rates have come from the border states.

16. The growth of Muslim population cannot be seen in isolation. It has to be looked upon in conjunction with exploding Muslim population in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Mass migration of Muslim population to India from Pakistan and Bangladesh in the future cannot be ruled out.. Already 10 - 30 million -- accurate figures are hard to come by -- Muslims from Bangladesh over the decades have settled in various parts of India. This will only worsen the situation in border states which already have a higher percentage and growth rate of Muslim population.

There is no better guide for the future than the past.

17. What has happened in the past?

18. As a result of Muslim invasions from the west and northwest, areas lying on way of Muslim invaders and long occupation and mass conversions of the Hindus to Islam at the point of the sword, the Hindu states of Baluchistan, NW Frontier, Punjab and Sindh became Muslim majority states. Afghanistan became completely Islamic. Bengal on the east also became predominantly Islamic -- for reasons not subject of this paper.

19. The net result was that Islamized areas adopted Alien culture and turned hostile to national Hindu ethos and culture -- ultimately ending up as separate Islamic states of Pakistan and Bangladesh. The fear expressed by some Hindu groups on the exploding Muslim population in India are not misplaced. Similar future for areas that become high Muslim dominated areas cannot be ruled out.

20. There is already a secessionist insurgency going on the in only Muslim majority state of Jammu and Kashmir where almost all the non-Muslims have been expelled. To claim Pakistan is fomenting trouble is to state only half the truth. The insurgency has much support from the local Muslim population.

21. What can India do?

22. The results of Islamization are evident from looking at what Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh are today. If India and the Hindus do not want to go the same route, the immediate things India should do prevent exploding Muslim population are:

22a. Without any further delay implement Uniform Civil Code for all religions across India

22b. Implement and enforce strict birth control measures.

22c. Strict border control to stop any illegal immigration of Muslims from Bangladesh and eventually from Pakistan.

22d. Abolish article 370 and make the State of J&K open to all Indians.

These are the preliminary steps that should be taken immediately.

23. And above all, propagation of hate against other religions in the name of religion should be made a crime.

24. Any "romantic" and "sentimental" ideas regarding reunification of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh should be summarily dismissed. Such action would result in Islamization of India within the next few decades.

25. If India wants to preserve its culture, ethos and integrity, these are the minimum first steps that should be taken immediately.

26. Publication of Census 2001 is a timely reminder of the Muslim population explosion. Hindus can afford to ignore it only at the peril of survival of their own civilization.

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