‘Population Control, Anti-Conversion Legislations Based On False Premise’

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India Tomorrow

NEW DELHI—The various anti-conversion laws enacted by the state government and the Population Control Bill presented in the Parliament are based on a false premise, two recent studies have shown.

The research papers have been published by the Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) and the Centre for Educational Research and Training (CERT) to assess various claims made by the governments and their ministers about population growth and religious conversions. The studies claim that both of these issues have been weaponized against religious minorities, especially Muslims, and scaring the majority Hindu community.

Speaking at the launch of these papers, SIO General Secretary Syed Ahmed Muzakkir said, “Our country is going through some very trying times, our economic growth is stunted, there are issues of income redistribution, there is a question mark over equitable access of education and healthcare, especially for the marginalized sections of society. In such a scenario, vested interests are focusing on creating mistrust between communities and exploiting the fact for their narrow political gains. A major area in the discourse of hatred is demographic anxiety. Two flash point issues in this regard are repeatedly used to hype up the issue and create discord. One is religious conversion and another is population growth. Both are interlinked to the issue of demographic anxiety in the majority community. Hence, we undertook these studies.”

CERT Director Fawaz Shaheen said that the reasons presented by the governments for the enactment of these laws include ‘Love Jihad’ – the phrase coined by the media aligned with radical Hindutva organizations which have no evidence and the courts have categorically rejected this. “The Constitution ensures the freedom of religion, including its propagation. Anti-conversion laws endanger the freedom of religion. These laws are said to be the safeguard against the conversion by force which is not even backed by any reliable source or statistical data. By weaponizing the phrase Love Jihad, the governments try to inflict fear on the majority,” he said.

The researchers also looked into the data pertaining to the population growth of various communities. They concluded that it’s not religion, but access to healthcare and education, that determines the fertility ratio. “The Population Control Bill has been weaponized against Muslims of the country, when the reality is that the population replacement ratio of Muslims is 2.3, only slightly higher than the national average of 2.1. And even this ratio is steadily declining and approaching the national average. Despite that, a myth has been created about the exponential rise in the Muslim population to scare the majority of Hindus into thinking that minorities will outnumber them. Nothing can be farther from the truth,” said Muzakkir.

Shaheen added, “The proposed population control legislation seeks to penalize families having more than two kids by depriving them of the benefits of government schemes. This is a disastrous approach, as most of these families are from marginalized sections of society and most in need of these benefits. The government should prioritize providing these basic facilities. Instead of using the brute force of law, the government should focus on education and awareness to regularise the population of the country.”

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