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October 2004
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The Goof-Up Drama
The controversy arising out of the professionally incompetent work done by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India serves as an index of the readiness of the Sangh Parivar outfits to pounce upon every opportunity to make the Indians believe that their (Parivar’s) imagined demon of Muslims is out to take India under its tentacles by all means. Secondly, the fact that a non-BJP coalition is at the helms in Delhi is no guarantee that executive powers will not be manipulated. Thirdly, it is a reminder that a determined communal lobby has penetrated deep into the administration and feels no qualms in mischievously juggling up data to sustain the canards floated by the saffron elements in a section of the media to abuse the minds of the innocent among the majority community.

Few in the academic community and newspaper readers are willing to mistake the episode for a ‘goof-up’ by the Census office. Even a ordinary statistician could not have blundered the way the leviathan bureaucratic machinery staged the drama of bumbling. It will not be wrong to infer that there has been a deliberate effort to confer legitimacy to the erroneous notion that Muslims were breeding faster and there is a grain of truth in the Sangh Parivar theory that demographic explosion of Muslims was bound to alter the social demographic equilibrium. Much more reprehensible was the presence and silence of Mr. Tarlochan Singh, the honourable chairman of the National Commission for Minorities at the ceremony who got up to release the document titled ‘First Report on Religion’. Much of the controversy could have been avoided if Singh had questioned the veracity of unrealistic figures pertaining to growth rate of Muslims.
Let it be said that Muslims are not found wanting in sharing the national goal of population control given the same socio-economic status. Figures of growth of population among various communities in Kerala and Tamil Nadu where minorities share fruits of socio-economic development are comparable to each other. The very same statistical sources confirm that Muslim families tend to produce more children in BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) states where they remain backward. To expect that a social and educationally backward community would enter into a grand conspiracy to alter the demography of the Hindu preponderant nation (which it failed to implement even during the 650 year Muslim rule at Delhi) is nothing less than a weird thought and clearly a preposterous move motivated by political exigencies.

The airing of opposition to Family Planning by Maulana Rabey Hasni Nadwi, President of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board is both unfortunate and retrograde. If indeed the Board was incapable of approving of the state policy of birth control, it should have allowed the matter to be a personal choice for each Muslim couple rather than speaking in discordant voices with a majority of clerics siding with disapproval.

The Board clearly runs the risk of getting reduced to a laughing stock by so stupidly failing to be cognizant of the social and economic realities surrounding the Muslims and the nation at large. Dominated as it is by ulema from the most backward states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the Board seems to be clearly out of sync with times and insistent on stone-walling all progressive measures that could lift the community from its present morass.