5 charts that puncture the bogey of Muslim population growth in India

Dawn: A report released last week by the Pew Research Center predicting that India will overtake Indonesia as the country with the largest Muslim population has set off the usual suspects. In response, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad on Saturday asked Hindus to have more children to rectify this “demographic imbalance” and predicted that soon Muslims will overtake the number of Hindus in India.

This is nothing new, of course. Malthusian fears of a Muslim takeover of India have been a core part of the Hindutva agenda for almost a century now. After the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, for example, Narendra Modi characterised the violence-affected Muslims in riot camps as “baby-producing factories”.

After he formed the government at the Centre, these fears have come to the fore in the form of pronouncements by various Bharatiya Janata Party leaders who want Hindu women to have greater numbers of children in order to boost the community’s numbers.

In January, just before the Delhi assembly elections, the 2011 Census’ figures on religion were conveniently leaked to newspapers.

Unfortunately, these feverish demographic projections generate far more heat than light. As the charts below show, actual data on this issue would hardly support the sort of fears that the Sangh Parivar plays up.