POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Oct 12, 2015 AT 22:29 IST ,  Edited At: Oct 12, 2015 22:29 IST

When Modi came to power almost 18 months ago, writers had voiced their fear and apprehension of what was to come. In open letters and petitions, many distinguished people from academia as well as the film fraternity had raised caution about voting in a non-secular party, and what Rushdie called a "bullying government".

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Oct 12, 2015 AT 22:29 IST, Edited At: Oct 12, 2015 22:29 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Sep 14, 2015 AT 21:27 IST ,  Edited At: Sep 14, 2015 21:27 IST

Delhi-based journalist and human rights activist John Dayal seems to have become the new target for Hindutva trolls on the internet. 

Even though he has often been the subject of such hostile attention, there has been a sharp spurt in the attacks via Twitter with the #ShameOnJohnDayal hashtag trending wildly. 

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Sep 14, 2015 AT 21:27 IST, Edited At: Sep 14, 2015 21:27 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Mar 17, 2015 AT 23:22 IST ,  Edited At: Mar 17, 2015 23:22 IST

With BJP-ruled Maharashtra and Haryana banning the slaughter and consumption of cows and putting in place strict laws for those who kill the animal, one wonders if the reason is strictly based on religious reasons. 

Cows maybe referred to as 'Gaumata' by many in India, but it seems that even the RSS ideologue M S Golwalkar who led the movement against cow slaughter in the 1960s did not cite a religious reason for banning cow slaughter but a political one.  

'Amul-man' Verghese Kurien writes in his autobiography, I too had a dream

Golwalkar was a very small man — barely five feet — but when he got angry fire spewed out of his eyes. What impressed me most about him was that he was an intensely patriotic Indian. You could argue that he was going about preaching his brand of nationalism in a totally wrong way but nobody could question his sincerity. One day after one of our meetings when he had argued passionately for banning cow slaughter, he came to me and asked, 'Kurien, shall I tell you why I'm making an issue of this cow slaughter business?'

I said to him, 'Yes, please explain to me because otherwise you are a very intelligent man. Why are you doing this?'

'I started a petition to ban cow slaughter actually to embarrass the government,' he began explaining to me in private. 'I decided to collect a million signatures for this to submit to the Rashtrapati. In connection with this work I travelled across the country to see how the campaign was progressing. My travels once took me to a village in UP. There I saw in one house, a woman, who having fed and sent off her husband to work and her two children to school, took this petition and went from house to house to collect signatures in that blazing summer sun. I wondered to myself why this woman should take such pains. She was not crazy to be doing this. This is when I realized that the woman was actually doing it for her cow, which was her bread and butter, and I realized how much potential the cow has.

'Look at what our country has become. What is good is foreign: what is bad is Indian. Who is a good Indian? It's the fellow who wears a suit and a tie and puts on a hat. Who is a bad Indian? The fellow who wears a dhoti. If this nation does not take pride in what it is and merely imitates other nations, how can it amount to anything? Then I saw that the cow has potential to unify the country – she symbolizes the culture of Bharat. So I tell you what, Kurien, you agree with me to ban cow slaughter on this committee and I promise you, five years from that date, I will have united the country. What I'm trying to tell you is that I'm not a fool, I'm not a fanatic. I'm just cold-blooded about this. I want to use the cow to bring out our Indianness, So please cooperate with me on this.'

In the late 1960s, the Government of India had set up a committee to look into the banning of cow slaughter. It was chaired by a former chief justice of India, Justice A.K. Sarkar. Golwalkar, the Shankaracharya of Puri and Dr Verghese Kurien were members of the committee. Pushpa M. Bhargava, the former vice-chairman of the National Knowledge Commission had been summoned by this committee.

In an interview to Outlook in 2014, Bhargava, the founder-director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad spoke about his experiences with this committee:

Golwalkar asked me how milk and meat were made in the body. I said that they were made by basically the same processes. He then asked me as to why, in that case, I ate meat and but did not drink milk. I answered that by the same logic I would like to ask him as to why he drank milk and did not eat meat. This made him extremely agitated and angry. It took quite a while for the chairman and the Shankaracharya to quieten him down. 

In the interview, he claimed that ban on cow slaughter based on religious grounds is illogical:

Incidentally, there's no ban on cow slaughter in our ancient religious texts, and eating beef is expressly permitted. So even a ban on cow slaughter on religious grounds is unreasonable. 

And he too admitted that the demand on cow slaughter was for political reasons:

Off the record, Golwalkar had told Kurien, who narrated it to me, that it was actually just politics. It is now a heady mix of politics and religion in the garb of Hindutva. There is absolutely no scientific evidence for it.

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Mar 17, 2015 AT 23:22 IST, Edited At: Mar 17, 2015 23:22 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Jan 22, 2015 AT 20:52 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 22, 2015 20:52 IST

The Sangh Parivar and BJP MPs such as Sadhvi Prachi and Sakshi Maharaj have added a ridiculous twist to the current obsession with the number of Muslims in India in some distant future, by insisting that Hindu couples produce more children. 

The Hindu reported:

Without naming the minority community, he (Sakshi Maharaj) said: "The concept of four wives and forty children just won't work in India but it is high time that every Hindu woman must produce at least four children to protect the Hindu religion".

Many more hate-mongers have jumped in, obfuscating facts so that the real picture of Muslim and Hindu population dynamics remains unclear. The Badrikashram, Vasudevanand Saraswati, for instance, came up with a ten-child norm this week.

A report in Zee News said:

During a convention of Sadhus in Allahabad, Saraswati reportedly urged the Hindu couples to produce 10 kids, stating it will save Hindus race. "Produce 10 kids so that Hinduism does not become a minority," said Saraswati.

There are many issues with this fear-mongering. To start with, the growth rate of Muslim population in India in the past cannot be the basis to conclude how many Muslims will be India at a future date. In fact, judging by current trends, there will be far fewer than we suspect, as the growth rate of population has declined among Muslims. Statistically, one cannot divide the decadal growth rate by ten to arrive at the annual growth rate, simply because population grows exponentially. It sort of increases like compound-interest, gathering steam over time, but it's slightly more complicated than that, for fertility rates are involved too. 

Therefore, the recently-leaked census figures on how many more Muslims there are in India now compared with 10 years ago, conceal more than they reveal. The lower growth rate indicates perhaps the declining fertility rate among Muslims – if anything, this shows their population is growing at a slower rate than ever before. And, in absolute numbers, Muslim population has increased by a paltry 0.8 per cent between 2001 and 2011 in those intervening years, relative to India's population growth.

The Times of India reported:

The latest census data on the population of religious groups, set to be released shortly, shows a 24% rise in the Muslim population between 2001 and 2011, with the community's share of total population rising from 13.4% to 14.2% over the 10-year period.

While the growth rate of the Muslim population has slowed from around 29% between 1991 and 2001, it is still higher than the national average of 18% for the decade.

Another fear-factor pulled out of the Sangh Parivar hat is that bigamy leads to more children. This too, is untrue, for whatever the rate of marriage might be for males of any community, the number of women (who alone bear children) will remain a constant. 

What the numbers indicate though is that the growth rate of India's population has probably slowed down. Now, this is a result of better education and higher health standards but it is not something the BJP can take credit for – the years in which the change took place were all in the period when the Congress-led UPA was in power.

The repeated statements also give the impression that Hindus actually take the Sangh's leaders seriously and will promptly start breeding at faster. This is an incorrect impression, obviously, because having ten children is one thing – raising all ten entirely another. Ask the poor women.

The sad part is that in a previous National Family Health Survey, it was found that whereas the total fertility rate is 2.1 in urban areas, the total wanted fertility rate was 1.6, and similarly in rural areas: the TFR was 3.0 but the wanted rate was far lower, at 2.1. Herein is the tragedy and irony of inciting people to produce babies for communal reasons: Indians, rural and urban already want far fewer children than they have. (NFHS, 2005-6).

If all goes well, Hindus will simply ignore these leaders, though if taken seriously, it will seriously jeopardise relations in society and put at risk the gains made so far in healthcare, girl child education and economic conditions. 

In any case, for anyone concerned with India's population growth rate, the largest majority should be the target of attention, not the minority. Here is what some number-crunching on the Hindu (as well as Muslim) populations in India (and the world) shows:

  • There are around 870 million Hindus and nearly 140 million Muslims in India. (Census 2001)
  • Hindu population in 2050 will be 2.7 billion if the rate of growth continues as it is. (With the growth rate increasing at an exponential rate, adding 0.125 per cent a year to the existing growth rate of Indian population, of 2.1 per cent). 
  • The Sachar report has predicted that Muslims will be under 20 per cent of India's population by the end of the 21st Century, and 16 per cent in 2030.
  • Projected world population in 2050 is 9 billion (Stephen Emmott). This means that Hindus will be 30 per cent of world population – three in every ten persons in the WORLD will be a Hindu.
  • Worldwide, according to Pew Research in 2011, Muslim population will increase by 2030 to 2.2 billion, from 1.6 billion in 2010. 

In conclusion, unless India wants Hindus to take over the world, literally, by having so many of them around that it becomes difficult to breathe, there's no point taking the hate speeches seriously.

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Jan 22, 2015 AT 20:52 IST, Edited At: Jan 22, 2015 20:52 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Jan 13, 2015 AT 19:12 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 13, 2015 19:12 IST

The New Indian Express reports:

The 18-day protests over controversial Tamil novel, Madhorubhagan, on Monday ended with its author Perumal Murugan tendering an unconditional apology for “hurting the sentiments of the people of Tiruchengode”. He also decided to withdraw all his novels, short stories, essays and poems published so far. He said he would compensate the publishers. He told Express that he made the decision fearing protests in the future against his published work.

The Hindu has a report saying that Murugan has decided to give up writing altogether.

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Jan 13, 2015 AT 19:12 IST, Edited At: Jan 13, 2015 19:12 IST
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