‘Muslim population rising’: RSS calls for balanced population policy in India

In its latest cover story, the RSS-linked weekly “Organiser” has called for a national population policy, highlighting concerns about a “population imbalance” due to a rising Muslim population compared to Hindus and the potential disadvantage for western and southern states with lower birth rates during the upcoming delimitation process, reported Indian Express.

With delimitation expected to take place during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s third term, the magazine’s focus on the southern states’ disadvantage is notable, as redrawing electoral boundaries could benefit the BJP, which has a stronghold in north India.

Prafulla Ketkar, the magazine’s editor, emphasizes the need for a policy to ensure balanced population growth across religious communities and regions to avoid socio-economic disparities and political conflicts. He notes that states in the West and South, which have better population control measures, fear losing parliamentary seats if the base population is altered after the census.

Opposition parties, especially those from the south, share this concern. Last September, during the parliamentary debate on the Women’s Reservation Bill, DMK MP Kanimozhi read a statement from Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin warning that delimitation based on population census would reduce representation for southern states. Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra added that Kerala would see no increase in seats, Tamil Nadu only a 26% increase, while Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh would see a 79% increase.

Ketkar also discusses “religious and regional imbalances,” noting significant Muslim population growth in certain areas, particularly bordering districts. While the Census shows a higher birth rate among Muslims compared to Hindus, the birth rates of both communities are converging, with Muslims’ fertility rate showing the sharpest decline among all religious communities in recent decades.

Population control and a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) are key projects of the Sangh. However, with the BJP holding reduced numbers in the Lok Sabha, passing a national UCC law appears challenging. In 2019, Rajya Sabha MP Rakesh Sinha introduced a Private Member’s Bill advocating a two-child norm, but key BJP allies like Janata Dal (United) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) have reservations about it.

The cover story by Ravi Mishra elaborates on Ketkar’s concerns, citing demographic change as a major security threat. Mishra points to incidents like the flogging in West Bengal’s Uttar Dinajpur district and the voting patterns in the Lok Sabha election, where a majority of Muslims supported the I.N.D.I. Alliance, boosting parties like Congress, Samajwadi Party, and Trinamool Congress in Muslim-majority areas.

Additionally, the magazine claims that the increasing prevalence of Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) in India is part of an “international conspiracy” to reduce India’s population and deny it the demographic dividend.

The Organiser editorial and cover story come just weeks before the first Budget Session of the 18th Lok Sabha, starting on July 22. In her interim Budget speech in February, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced plans to form a high-powered committee to address the challenges of rapid population growth and demographic changes, although the committee has yet to be established.