Sunday, December 8, 2013

Muslim Population Myths

I am summarising the points from a facebook discussion

Debunking the RSS fear mongering that Muslims will take over India's population.

 " 2035, Muslim will become absolute majority in India (total population: 197.7 crore). Conversion, threatening, rioting, slaughtering, terrorism, intrusion, polygamy, no birth control are being the major tools for Muslim to reach that figure within the said period," says the Sangh Parivar website.

RSS' Irrational Fears

What of the RSS fear of Muslims becoming more than half of India's population by 2035? To make this claim, its number crunchers have to project a total population of 198 crore by 2035. By most estimates, India's population would peak at 154 crore by 2050. The simple extrapolations used for demographic scaremongering have no basis in science.

To the extent social backwardnesshas been identified as the reason for high TFRs, whether in regions or in communities, the need is to investmore in things that create development: skills, awareness, education, healthcare, roads, power, broadband, teledensity. But any move to step up investment in Muslim-majority areas, as the Planning Commission has made, is immediately branded as minority appeasement by the Sangh Parivar.

Global Trend

As societies become more prosperous, healthy and women gain agencyand more and more control over their own lives, their TFR comes down. This is so, regardless of religion or geography. It used to be thought that Catholics would resist contraception. Devoutly catholic Spain and Italy today have a TFR of 1.2, tying with Hong Kong for the lowest rate among countries.

Poorer regions tend to have higher TFRs. But poverty is not the only determinant of people's decisions on how many children to have. Cultural values and practices matter a lot. But no Muslim country is immune to the larger trend. TFR has been declining in every major Muslim nation. It is below the replacement level in Iran. Indonesia and Bangladesh are fast approaching that level. Bangladesh's TFR of 2.2 in 2011 is significantly lower than India's 2.7. And in India, backward states like Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh still have high TFRs: 3.5, 4.2 and 3.6 respectively.

Goa (1.5), Kerala (1.6), Tamil Nadu (1.6) and Puducherry (1.6) have TFRs significantly below the replacement level. Soon, their populations will stop growing - as past young cohorts enter the reproductive age, population will continue to grow for some time - and they can soon apply for UN funds for endangered species.

Does this mean that Muslim populations will stabilise at the same rate as Hindu ones? It does not. To the extent cultural and religious factors inhibit progress of the global trend for TFR to fall with social development, the pace of change will vary. In Kerala, in Muslim majority Malappuram district, the TFR has dropped only to 2.2 even as it has been coming down. At the same time, in Muslim majority Lakshadweep and several districts of Jammu and Kashmir, the TFR is below the replacement level.


Hans Rosling had a question: Do some religions have a higher birth rate than others -- and how does this affect global population growth? Speaking at the TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar, he graphs data over time and across religions. With his trademark humor and sharp insight, Hans reaches a surprising conclusion on world fertility rates.
In Hans Rosling’s hands, data sings. Global trends in health and economics come to vivid life. And the big picture of global development—with some surprisingly good news—snaps into sharp focus.

Are we really sitting on a population time bomb? Is the Eurabia threat for real? Hans Rosling challenges a good deal of the alarmism regarding these questions and reveals a trend that 'Hum do hamare do' may actually have been the practised motto of our species in recent decades!
 Arvind Iyer tl;dw:
Babies per woman decrease when:
1. Children survive.

2. Many children are not needed for work.
3. Women get education and join the labor force.
4. Family planning is accessible.

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