The population of India in general and Uttar Pradesh in particular has been increasing for years. But awareness about it seems to have arisen quite suddenly in the state government led by saffron-clad Yogi Adityanath only in July 2021.
In the final round of his five-year term, Adityanath sought to draft a new population policy, seeking to limit family size in Uttar Pradesh to two children. In his attempt to justify the need for population growth control, Adityanath said, âPopulation growth is the root of the major problems, including inequalities, that prevail in society. The control of the population is the main condition for the establishment of an advanced society.
Indeed, the new law proposed to restrict the population just seven months before the next State Assembly elections in February-March 2022 will not fail to arouse the suspicion that the idea behind it was nothing. other than the ruling party’s proven formula for religious polarization. .
After all, it cannot be denied that the entire right, led by the RSS and its offshoots, has systematically tried to create a perception that only Muslims are responsible for bringing the Indian population to unmanageable levels. For his part, the Chief Minister has repeatedly stressed that the policy does not intend to discriminate against anyone on the basis of religion.
Read also | Does India Need Population Control? The UP policy project asks the question
âWe don’t want to get the message across to UP that we are against any particular religion or anyone’s human rights. We just want to make sure that government resources and facilities are available to those who help and contribute to the control of the population “, underlined the president of the Commission of the Law of the UP, the judge AN Mittal. A retired High Court judge, Mittal was responsible for enacting laws such as the “jihad of love” and some recent laws in the name of protecting cows. Needless to say, how these laws were used systematically by Adityanath to advance his obvious agenda of religious polarization.
Besides RSS leaders, Union Minister Giriraj Singh has repeatedly blamed Muslims for India’s population explosion. Therefore, it may not be unfounded to assume that the new population policy, seen as a precursor to the proposed population control law, has a broader political purpose.
The bill came close on the heels of the state law commission’s recommendation for a new law to restrict population growth. Under the new policy, couples who have no more than two children will benefit from various government plans. The project suggested several disincentives for those who do not comply with the new population policy. Anyone with more than two children after the law came into force would be excluded from benefits such as government-funded social assistance schemes, and ration card units would be limited to four. A person with more than two children would be barred from standing for election to local authority or any member of local self-government, the project says.
Those who break the law would also become ineligible to apply for jobs in the state government and be denied promotions in government departments. They will not receive any grants either. These provisions would enter into force one year after the date of publication of the new law in the Official Journal.
But the question is, are Muslims really responsible for India’s population explosion? According to data from the Union government, Muslims contributed 14.6% during the period 1901-2011, 16.1% (1951-2011) and 16.7% (1971-2011) to India’s population growth. The contribution of Hindus in the corresponding periods was 79.4 percent, 78 percent and 77.4 percent. The remainder comprised 6 percent, 5.9 percent and 5.9 percent. In 1901, Hindus outnumber Muslims in India by 164 million, 268 million in 1951, 392 million in 1971 and 794 million in 2011. Thus, despite a lower growth rate but a much higher population, the Hindus’ numerical advantage has increased in the last hundred years.
At the same time, the growth rate of the Muslim population has been declining since 1971, from 30.9% in 1961-1971 to 24.6% in 2001-11, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS).
A more recent study by the Delhi-based think tank CSDS found that even the decline in the rate of the Muslim population between 2001 and 2011 was greater than that of the Hindu population. Against a 3.5 percent decline in the Hindu population, the decline in the Muslim population was 4.9 percent during the same period. And that was even if Muslim women had a higher fertility rate than Hindu women. With a fertility rate of 2.13, Hindu women were inferior to Muslim women with a fertility rate of 2.61. Thus, against 100 Hindu women giving birth to 213 children, 100 Muslim women giving birth to 261 children.
Yet even at this rate, it would take 1340 years for the Muslim population to grow to 40% of the Hindu population in India. The study says India’s Muslim population would reach 39 crore (double the Muslim population of today) by the year 2100, while the country’s Hindu population is estimated to be around 157 crore. .
The right-wing propaganda that Muslims will become 84% of India’s population is therefore a myth intended only to mislead people, so forging a communal division is helpful.
While the Yogi government has consistently maintained that population control would help balance the nation’s needs and resources, the fact remains that corrupt officials and politicians have devoured part of the country’s resources. . An effective and meaningful check on such pilferage could save valuable resources.
(The writer is a senior journalist based in Lucknow.)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of DH.