The census of 2010 is under way. Its results will take quite a while to come out. In the meanwhile, sharp differences have arisen over counting or not counting the innumerable castes into which the Hindu society is currently fragmented. A weird extension of this controversy is that “Dalit Christians” and “Dalit Muslims” are demanding the same preference as bestowed on Hindu Dalits by the government in the name of secularism.
As if this is not enough, Indian’s Hindu demography has been vitiated and endangered by two serious factors—the Bangladeshi infiltration flood, and the proselytisation campaign of worldwide Christian missionary organisations.
Together these factors are warning the Hindus of India that their demographic decline points to a dark destiny. For those, who would dismiss this apprehension as uncalled for scare-mongering, the following statistical overview of census results from the very beginning should provide food for thought.
The population of India can be determined with some accuracy from 1871 onwards, when the first all-India census was conducted. This census was rather tentative in its coverage and was certainly not synchronous. It was restricted to what called British India, and ran from 1867 to 1872. The first synchronous census of almost the whole of India was taken in 1881. From then onwards, censuses were conducted regularly every 10 years.
These figures cover almost the whole of the area constituting the historic and geographic India now divided into three separate political entities, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The census classified population into nine religious groups: Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, tribal, Muslim, Christian, Parsi and Jewish. Here it is important to remember that all first five groups named could be covered under the broad umbrella of Hinduism. Hinduism can be called a parliament of (Indian) religions. Even more, it is a family of religions. For all reformist faith (from Buddhism to Sikhism) share a strong and enduring bond with the basics of Hinduism. Gautam Buddha has been accepted as one of the ten incarnations of God. In the case of Jains saint, Acharya Tulsi has categorically assered that Jains are an integral part of the Hindu society. As for Sikhs, Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scripture, contains not only the teachings of Sikh Gurus but also of many other Hindu sages and saints-poets like Jaidev, Namdev, Trilochan, Paramanand, Ramanand, Kabir, Ravidas, Surdas and many others, each from a different part of our country. And finally the Vanvasis, who are sought to be cut off from the national Hindu mainstream by dubbing them Adivasis (aboriginals), are even constitutionally accepted as part of the Hindu family. During British days census commissioners, who had classified “tribals” as “animists” had acknowledged that the dividing line between the religions of these people and Hinduism was so faint as to be indistinguishable.
At the time of the first detailed census in 1881, the followers of religions of Indian origin constituted about 79 per cent of the population, of which 95 per cent were Hindus. Of the remaining, about of the 21 per cent population that followed religions of alien origin, as many as 96 per cent were Muslims. This religious heterogeneity of the Indian population, with its division into mainly the Hindu and the Muslims, has now become an intractable problem.
Of about 106 million Muslims in India in 1991, 59 million are in the four states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam. Another about 35 million are largely concentrated in the four southern states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh; these four states accommodate about 22 million of the total of 35 million. Gujarat and Rajasthan account for another 7 million. Finally, of about 12 million Muslims, 7 million are in Kerala and about 4 million in Jammu and Kashmir.
In Kerala, Hindus have been losing ground throughout the twentieth century. They had a share of 57 per cent in the population in 1991; this is about 12 per cent points less than their share in 1901. They have lost about 6 per cent points to Christians and about the same to Muslims. The gains of Christians occurred largely during the pre-Partition period of 1901-1941 and those of Muslims during the Post-Partition period of 1951-1991. This loss of about 12 per cent points in the course of the twentieth century has occurred on top of the substantial losses that Hindus in Kerala suffered due to large-scale conversions to Islam during the latter part of the eighteenth century and to Christianity during the nineteenth. Thus in the course of the last three centuries, Hindus have comprehensively lost their dominance in this coastal state.
The most dramatic story of the twentieth century is that of the north-eastern states. In 1901, Hindus formed more than 90 per cent of the population of these states, while Christians formed less than 2 per cent. In 1991 the proportion of Hindus was reduced to less than 60 per cent, while that of Christians rose to nearly 40 per cent. Most of this change has occurred during the period following Independence.
Thus, Hindus suffered a loss of more than 11 per cent points between 1881 and 1991 in India as a whole, which constitutes a drastic change in the religious profile of a compact geographical region like India. It is, however, even more significant that the losses have been highly pronounced in border regions, especially after Independence. This is leading to the formation of border pockets, where Hindus are in a minority or nearly so. Existence of such distinct pockets formed the demographic basis for Partition of the country in 1947. A similar pocket of high Muslim influence seems to be now developing in the northern border belt covering the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal and Assam. And a border pocket of even more intense Christian influence has developed in the north- eastern states. Most of these changes have taken place in the short span of time since Independence and Partition.
Population figures, covering a period of 120 years, from the very first census to the last make up, what can only be called a history of Hindu decline.
An important point to note here is that the census finding before Partition related to India as a whole, those after Partition/Independence relate to India as a part from Pakistan on one side and Bangladesh on the other. Consequently the religious configuration of the post-Independence Indian population is integrally linked to the demographic situation that prevails (and is developing) in those states carved out of India.
Another arresting feature of the religion-wise categorisation of the Indian population is that while there was no problem in identifying two large groups, the Muslims and Christians, there was on unanimity in calling a Hindu, even though it is constitutionally accepted that Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains are followers of religions that originated in Hinduism. There are those, who prefer the device of clubbing Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains together under a safely-vague category called ‘Indian Religionists’.
But does this device hide what census after census shows about the numerical strength of the Hindu society? For those, who take comfort in the present fact that Hindus are still around 85 per cent of the Indian population, and so there is no cause for worry, the historical trends is by no means reassuring. For the proportion of Hindus (or ‘Indian Religionists’, if you will) in the population of Indian sub continent has declined by 11 per cent points during the period of 110 years for which census information is available. Their percentage of 79.32 in 1881 fell to 68.03 in 1991. This is an extraordinarily high decline to take place in just about a century. If this decline continues (rather, if we let it continue) the proportion of Hindus-cum-Indian religionists is likely to fall below 50 per cent early in the latter half of the present century. To put it bluntly, in about half a century more Hindus might make up less than half of “Hindusthan”.
During approximately the same past period the numbers of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh show a history of non-stop decline. In the areas that form Pakistan now the proportion of Hindus had risen considerably during the period of 50 years from 1901 to 1951—followed by a precipitous fall that year in the wake of the Partition, when it plummeted to just 1.60 per cent. It has remained around that figure since then.
In the Indian territory that is now Bangladesh, the picture is equally grim. In 1901 Hindus formed 33.93 per cent of the population there. Their population declined to 23.61 per cent in 1941, and further to 22.89 in 1951 as a consequence of the Partition. Between 1951 and 1991 the proportion of Hindus has been declining precipitously. In 1991 they formed just 11.37 per cent of that state’s population—less than half their share in 1951.
Do all these figures mean that a third Pakistan is looming? As early as in 1996 Governor of Uttar Pradesh TV Rajeswar had forecast the rise of a “third Islamic State” in the Indian sub-continent. Bangladesh Muslim immigrants into parts of Assam and North Bengal, he wrote, pose a grave danger to national as well as regional security.
“The inevitable emergence of Bangladesh, which we postulated, presented India with fierce long-term problems. It might set a precedent for the creation of other Moslem States, carved this time out of India.”
“Muslims in India accounted for 9.9 per cent (of India’s population) in 1951, 10.8 per cent in 1971 and 11.3 per cent in 1981, and presumably about 12.1 per cent in 1991. The present population ratio of Muslims is calculated to be 28 per cent in Assam and 25 per cent in West Bengal. In 1991, the Muslim population in the border districts of West Bengal accounted for 56 per cent in Murshidabad, 54 per cent in Malda and about 60 per cent in Islampur sub-division of West Dinajpur. A study of the border belt of West Bengal yields some telling statistics: 20-40 per cent villages in the border districts are said to be predominantly Muslim. There are indications that the concentration of the minority community, including Bangladesh immigrants, in the villages has resulted in Hindus surrounded by villages mostly dominated by Muslims. Lin Piao’s theory of occupying the villages before overwhelming the cities comes to mind. The basic factor of security threat in both the cases is the same.”
” …. Figures have been given showing the concentration of Muslim population in the districts of West Bengal bordering Bangladesh starting from 24 Parganas and going up to Islampur of West Dinajpur district and their population being well over 50 per cent of the population. The Kishanganj district (of Bihar) which was part of Purnea district earlier, which is contiguous to the West Bengal area, also has a majority of Muslim population. The total population of the districts of South and North 24 Parganas, Murshidabad, Nadia, Malda and West Dinajpur adds up to 27,337,362. If we add the population of Kishanganj district of Bihar of 986,672, the total comes to 28,324,034. (All figures are based on the 1991 Census). This mass of land with a population of nearly 2.8 crores has a Muslim majority. The total population of West Bengal in 1991 was 67.9 million and of these, 28.32 million population are concentrated in the border districts, with about 16-17 million population of Muslims being concentrated in this area. This crucial tract of land in West Bengal and Bihar, lying along the Ganga/Hughly and West Bangladesh with a population of over 28 million, with Muslims constituting a majority, should cause concern for any thinking Indian.”
“There is a distinct danger of another Muslim country emerging in the eastern part of India in the future, at a time when India might find itself weakened politically and militarily.”
On the other hand, there is a clear agenda for a Christian world that includes a Christian India.
Although with changing times missionary tactics have become sophisticated, their history in the past in many parts of the world is a history of cheating and bloodshed. Kenya’s national leader Jomo Kenyatta had once said, “When the missionaries came, they had their Bible and we had our land. They told us to close our eyes and pray. When we opened our eyes, we had their Bible and they had our land.”
Christian missionaries are notorious for resorting to every possible trick of the trade to increase Christian numbers worldwide. For them the Bible commands conversion. Their Gospels, especially Mark and Mathew, are clear on every Christian’s duty to proselytise. According to Mark’s Gospel Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptised will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
In India, missionaries have been acting on this Biblical command even “against the laws of the land”. For them freedom to practice religion given by the Constitution is the freedom to convert by hook or crook, mostly by crook. For the Supreme Court of India has ruled that conversion is not a fundamental right.
Christian missionaries are bent on turning Arunachal Pradesh into a Christian state, and unless urgent steps are taken immediately, the situation would spin out of control.
In Mizoram as many as 92 per cent of the people have already become Christians. Nagaland has 87 per cent Christian population and Meghalaya has 72 per cent. In Manipur,the hilly regions are already cent per cent Christian.
Mission Mandate, published by Mission Indian of Madras in 1992, is a thick book of more than 700 pages. The cover page of the book describes it as a “compendium on the perspective of missions in India, applied church growth principles, evangelism strategies and methodologies, success stories from India’s harvest field, directory of evangelism mission organisations, data on over 2000 identified groups”. A Bishop calls the book “a Magna Carta for the Church and mission in India”.
There are also other examples of Hindu-hating missionary literature. For instance, a booklet in Malayalam says, ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ means ‘Let evil befall’! Hindu religious leaders are ‘devils’. Tilak and bindi are symbols of ‘satanic spirit’!
All these facts and figures make it clear that this nation faces a developing crisis of identity. India has always been a Hindu Nation, and this never meant a Hindu theocracy.
Rather, the state in India has always been secular. In fact, the state in India has always been secular precisely because the nation that is India has always been Hindu.
Hindutva is the cultural core of this nation, and Hindu religion as such is a part of it, although the most important and essential part. Hindutva, in fact, can be called the ethos of India.
This being so the defence and development of this ethos becomes the very basis of survival of the nation. So a close look at India’s demographic statistics, and a study of its crucial import, must follow action necessary to not only contain but also to correct the developing danger. In other words, an action plan is the dire need of the hour.
The first need for every Hindu, who wants to combat the coming calamity is to become a vigilant. Essentially a social precaution, this means the Hindu must keep a keen eye on any anti-national activity happening or about to happen in his neighbourhood. This activity can take many forms, ranging from the coming up of a sudden, unauthorised place of worship to supporting subversion. Any such activity needs to be immediately exposed.
Also on the same social level, Hindus must show their sense of solidarity on every possible occasion. It might crudely be called a provocative show of strength. But it is necessary for putting hostile elements on notice. It is a truth universally acknowledged that might commands respect. Proof of such might does not need the instrument of violence.
Our barren, brain-washed intellectuals are the product of the English-language media. Macaulay has left, but the tribe of Macaulay-putras prevails. This is because the English mind-set fostered by the English language is still with the educated Indian. So the time has come to use the English language itself as a weapon. This calls for a strong Hindu / nationalist presence in India’s English-language media.
Muslim leaders are fond of arguing that the Muslim problem in India mainly arises from lack of education among the Muslims. But what education to the Muslims really need? They need educated minds, which can certainly be religious without being fundamentalist. Is such an education available to them? Their religious leaders seen bent upon denying it to them. They are told the Quran says, “Jehad is a holy duty.” Why do they not say that the Quran teaches liberalism? The Zaytuna University of Tunisia, a small African Muslim country, has prepared a collection of more than 100 verses in the Quran that teach such liberalism.
Will these and such other steps correct the prevailing potentially disastrous situation and restore to the Indian the national/Hindu identity that he has lost? It is so formidable a task that some Hindu nationalists as well as friends abroad are asking the question: Are Hindus on the way to extinction? The answer to this is a clear, confident NO.
The reason for this confidence is that the Hindu of half-a-century ago and the Hindu of today are too different beings. Yesterday’s Hindu was a mouse, today’s Hindu is a man. Despite the increasingly alarming demographic situation prevailing today, Hindus are not going to be driven to the fate of a minority headed for its extinction. Why? Because the Hindu of today is determined not to let it happen.
(The views are personal)
By Sudhakar Raje