RSS said at the meet that the populations of religious communities with a ‘Bharatiya origin (Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh)’ had declined to 83.8% from 88% in 1951, while the spurt in Muslim growth rate, particularly in some areas of the northeast, points to ‘unnatural growth’.
RANCHI: Stoking the debate over religion and demographics, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh has asked the Centre to “re-formulate” the national population policy to address the “demographic imbalance” caused by the rise in Muslim population as reflected in the latest census data on religious communities.

The RSS meet, called to discuss data on population by religious communities, said the populations of religious communities with a “Bharatiya origin (Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh)” had declined to 83.8% from 88% in 1951 whereas the spurt in Muslim growth rate, particularly in some areas of the north-east, point to “unnatural growth”.

Calling for uniform population policy for all communities, RSS joint general secretary Krishna Gopal said, “If religion prevents one from opting for family planning norms, we must go by the nationalist spirit and formulate a policy keeping under consideration available resources of the country.” Gopal said the Supreme Court on a number of occasions has stressed the constitutional necessity for a uniform civil code.

This is not the first time RSS has expressed concern over a skewed population growth rate. In fact, the issue of illegal migration in north-east, West Bengal and Bihar has been high on the Sangh’s agenda for several years as have religious conversions. But the current conclave in the midst of elections in Bihar where charges of “communal” campaigning have flown thick and fast, and the ascension of a government with a BJP majority at the Centre, give the Sangh’s resolution a sharper edge.

Explaining the RSS resolution on the ‘Challenge of Imbalance in the Population Growth Rate‘, Gopal said, “The total fertility rate (TFR) and child ratio is uneven across religions and unless uniform measures are adopted it will be difficult to achieve the ideal figure of 2.1 as national fertility rate.” According to the census data, the Muslim community registered a 0.8% growth between 2001 and 2011, while Hindu population declined by 0.7% at 96.63 crore during the same period. Muslim population stood at 17.22 crore, up from 13.8 crore.

Gopal, however, differentiated between ‘oppressed’ refugees from neighbouring countries – indicating Hindus from Bangladesh and Pakistan among others — and “infiltrators”. He said people from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or any other neighbouring country, from a community of Indian origin as also Christians, should be granted shelter in India, but infiltrators entering India with the objective of grabbing land and claiming citizenship must be stopped.

Citing example of Dhubri district in Assam, Gopal said the area had 80% Hindu population at the time of Independence and there was not a single Muslim-dominated district in the entire state. “Today, Dhubri has 80% Muslims and they are the dominant community in eight districts,” he said, adding, “How can Hindu-dominated districts become Muslim-dominated? Our cultural identity is being destroyed because of this.”

Quoting the RSS resolution, Gopal said it was only in 2000 that a comprehensive population policy was formulated and a population commission formed. The policy, he said, aimed at achieving a stable but healthy population by 2045 by optimizing the fertility rate to the ideal figure of 2.1 total fertility rate (TFR). This was expected to apply uniformly to all sections of society to ensure equitable use of national resources.

However, the National Fertility & Health Survey (NFHS) of 2005-06 and the 0-6 age group population percentage data of religion in Census 2011, both indicate that the TFR and child ratio “is uneven across the religions”, he said. In 1951 Indian-origin people in Arunachal Pradesh were 99.21 per cent but it came down to 81.3 per cent in 2001 and to 67 per cent in 2011.