AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi attacked RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s Vijayadashmi rally speech, claiming that it was full of lies and half-truths. Owaisi, who put out a series of tweets on Friday night, criticised Bhagwat over the latter’s comments on population policy, abrogation of Article 370 and others.
“As usual, RSS Mohan’s speech today was full of lies & half-truths. He called for a population policy & repeated the lie that Muslim & Christian population has increased. Muslim population growth rate has had the sharpest decline among all. There’s no ‘demographic imbalance’,” Owaisi said.
What one has to worry about are the social evils of child marriages and sex-selective abortions, the Hyderabad MP said. He also said, “84 per cent of married kids are Hindus”. Between 2001-2011, Muslim female-male ratio leaped from 936 to 951 women for every 1000 Muslim men. But, the Hindu ratio only rose from 931 to 939, he claimed. India has already achieved replacement level fertility rates, without any coercive population policy, he said.
Is there any truth behind Mohan Bhagwat’s claims? Pew Research Centre, a popular research organisation based in the US released a study titled Religious Composition of India. The study describes trends in the composition of religious groups in India. Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists were included in the study. The organisation sourced its data for the study from the 2015-16 National Family Health Survey (NFHS), which is a nationally representative household survey. The survey revealed that India’s fertility is declining rapidly in recent decades. India’s Total Fertility Rate, which is the number of children an average Indian woman is expected to have within her lifetime, had declined to 2.2 in 2015-16. It was as high as 5.9 in the 1950s.
Another highlight of the Pew report was that it showed there is a declining trend in population growth and fertility across all religious groups. It also showed that the religious composition of India’s population has remained largely stable since independence. Falling fertility has also shown that the disparity in childbearing numbers between religious groups has dwindled. While Muslim women were expected to have 1.1 more children than Hindu women in 1992, the gap was reduced to 0.5 by 2015. The study also found that the largest decrease in fertility, from 2005-06 to 2015-16 was observed among Muslims. While it reduced by 0.8% among Muslims, it dropped by 0.5% among Hindus, 0.4% among Sikhs and 0.3% among Christians.
Owaisi’s series of tweets also mentioned how Mohan Bhagwat was worried about India’s ageing population. “Similarly, fact-free Mohan is worried about India’s ageing population & the need to have younger population to help the ageing. He should tell his student Modi about it,” Owaisi said in a tweet.
“No man has destroyed India’s demographic dividend like he has. Majority of India is young: they lack education, govt support & jobs. What’s the future of a country whose PM cannot promise anything more than a few pakora stalls,” the AIMIM leader said. Saying that a population control policy would mean fewer youths of working age, he asked how the government will support an ageing population.