New Delhi, May 12 (KMS): The idea that Muslim families are prone to have more children than other religious communities in India has taken a huge hit with the release of new data from the National Health Survey family (NFHS). The survey found that the fertility rate among Muslims has seen the steepest decline among all religious communities over the past two decades.
According to data released by the NFHS last week, the fertility rate among Muslims fell to 2.3 during the period 2019-2021, from 2.6 recorded in 2015-16. In 1992-93, the number was 4.4 among Muslims and 3.3 among Hindus.
The fertility rate is the average number of children born to a woman during her lifetime. The latest survey reveals that among Hindus the rate fell to 1.94 from 2.1 in 2015-16.
In terms of percentages, the decline in fertility among Muslims between the early 1990s and today is 46.5%, while among Hindus over the same period the decline was slightly less at 41, 2%.
The latest data shows that the country’s total fertility rate fell from 2.2 in 2015-2016 to 2, which is below the replacement rate of 2.1. According to the data, the fertility rate is 1.88% among Christians, 1.61% among Sikhs, 1.6% among Jains, and 1.39% among Buddhist and Neo-Buddhist communities.
The fertility rate among Muslims is only 0.36 higher than that of Hindus, which is enough to dispel the Hindutva narrative that Muslims produce more children with an evil design to seize of political power.
Sakshi Maharaj, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP had in 2015 urged Hindu women to produce at least four children to match the growth of Muslims.
Hindutva hate monger Yati Narsinghanad, who faces a hate speech case where he called for genocide of Muslims, is frequently heard making such allegations against Muslims in order to create fear among Hindus, a majority community that the Muslims will overwhelm the population and that the Hindus will be in the minority. He often makes slanderous remarks against Hindu women for not having more children. At a recent event, he called on Hindu women to produce more children lest the country be “overwhelmed by Muslims by 2029”.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in January 2020 had made an unsubstantiated allegation that the Muslim population in India increased after partition due to the special rights it would enjoy.
Research from the Pew Center, however, concluded in 2015 that it would take 2020 years for Muslims to equal Hindus in numbers if their population increased by the trends of the time. Since then, the fertility rate has continued to decline.