Why Are Muslim Births in Sharp Decline in Indian Occupied Kashmir?

Muslim women's fertility rate in Indian Occupied Kashmir has sharply declined to just 1.4, far below the replacement level of 2.1, according to India's latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5).  Is this the result of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's oppression in Kashmir? Is it because of fewer Muslim young men in the occupied territory? Is it part of the Hindu Nationalist policy to change the demographics of Kashmir? Is it slow genocide

Kashmiris Demanding Azadi From India

Just over a week ago, India’s health ministry revealed that the country’s total fertility rate (TFR)—the average number of children that an Indian woman can expect to give birth to in her lifetime—has fallen below 2.1, which is to say below the “replacement” level at which births equal deaths. Muslim majority territory of Kashmir under Indian military occupation saw the biggest decline to just 1.4, the lowest TFR  reported by NFS-5. Hindu Nationalist politicians, including Prime Minister Modi, have rallied their Hindu voters by claiming that Muslims have too many babies. Legislation aimed at Muslims is being proposed to limit the size of families in the state of Uttar Pradesh led by Hindu priest Yogi Adityanath.  

India's Birth Rate Decline. Source: The Economist

The birth rates in Mr. Modi's BJP party's power base in the Hindi heartland continue to be much higher than those in the southern states. What this means is that the bulk of India's future voters and its workforce will continue to come mainly from the poor, less educated northern states. In 1971, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi froze the allocation of seats among India's states. As a result of this freeze, a member of parliament from Kerala now represents some 1.8 million voters while one from Uttar Pradesh represents nearly 3 million, according to a report in The Economist magazine. When the freeze on redistricting is lifted some time in the next decade, these disparities will mean that the northern states will have far more political power in the Union than they do now. 
The Indian military has kept Occupied Kashmir under extended and inhumane lockdown to prevent protests against New Delhi's reckless decision to scrap Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The lockdown is being enforced by over 700,000 Indian troops deployed in Jammu and Kashmir.  People have been kept imprisoned in their homes for months. They were deprived of Internet, telephone or television for extended periods.  Delhi rules the region under Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the same law that was created and used by the British colonial power to try and crush Gandhi's Quit India movement. Thousands have died and more than 6,221 people received pellet gun injuries in the seven months following the July 2016 killing of Burhan Wani, according to the Jammu and Kashmir government as reported by The New Humanitarian.  Mr. Modi's actions are not only an affront to the people of Jammu and Kashmir but also in clear violation of India's international and bilateral obligations under United Nations charter and the Simla Accord.   It is time for all sane Indians and the rest of the world to wake up to the serious threats posed to peace in South Asia region and the wider world by Mr. Modi's fascist Hindutva project.
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Comment by Riaz Haq on December 3, 2021 at 2:00pm

(RSS Chief Mohan) Bhagwat’s most controversial statement in Guwahati was about the decision of Muslims to increase their population from the 1930s. The RSS chief has not quoted any mass campaign launched by M A Jinnah or the Muslim League that urged Muslims to produce more children. There is no evidence of the Muslim clergy initiating any such movement, though some ulema had opposed permanent sterilisation methods.


Indeed, some facts may indeed be cited to substantiate the RSS chief’s statement. For example, while the Muslim population was 31.2 million, as recorded in the 1921 census, with a growth rate of 1.29 per cent, it went up to 35.8 million over time with a growth rate of 14.75 per cent. But then the devil is always in the detail. The Hindu growth rate was minus 0.68 in 1921 and it, too, registered a massive increase with a 10.54 per cent growth rate. The Spanish Flu of 1918 may have contributed to the low growth rates of both Hindus and Muslims in 1921.

In the 1941 census, the Hindu growth rate dropped to 6.19 per cent but the Muslim growth rate went up to 18.43 per cent. Bhagwat may have kept just these two census data in mind. But to get the complete picture, one needs more facts. In 1951, Hindus registered an impressive growth rate of 27.36 per cent but the Muslim growth rate went down to 16.5. Partition may have contributed to the rise and fall in growth rates.

In 1961, while the Hindu growth rate was 20.75, the Muslim growth rate drastically went up to 32.48. This increase was certainly not due to any concerted efforts of the community, its leadership or clergy. In fact, in the 1971 census, the Muslim growth rate went down from 32.48 to 30.78. Since then, it has been declining in every census. If we compare the growth rates of all communities in the 2001 and 2011 census, the sharpest and steepest decline was registered by the Muslim community — from 29.52 to 24.60. The Hindu growth rate declined only marginally from 19.92 to just 17.75.

The National Family Health Survey (2014), too, found that the Muslim fertility rate per woman had declined more than the Hindu fertility rate. The Muslim fertility rate in Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh stood at 2.3, 2.2 and 1.8 respectively — much lower than the fertility rate of Hindu women in Bihar, Rajasthan and UP at 2.9, 2.8 and 2.6 respectively.

States and Union territories with a large Muslim population give a more clear idea about the myths perpetuated by the Hindu right-wing. Lakshadweep, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, West Bengal and Kerala registered highly encouraging growth rates of 1.1, 1.3, 3.3, 1.8 and 1.9 respectively. Muslims have achieved the desirable replacement fertility rate (2.1) target in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha and they are likely to reach that benchmark in the coming census in Kerala, West Bengal, Gujarat, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh.

Bhagwat must use his influence to tell the Lakshadweep administrator and the chief ministers of UP and Assam that there is no compelling state interest in bringing in a coercive two-child law anymore. At no point was the difference in Hindu and Muslim fertility more than 1.1 child(ren). Today, it is an insignificant 0.40.


Even in Pakistan, the fertility rate has gone down from 6.6 in 1971 to 3.4 in 2020. Bangladesh’s fertility rate has gone down from 6.2 in 1981 to 2.3 in 2020. The fertility rate depends on income levels. Thus, low-income countries have high fertility rates of four, the rate of high-middle-income countries is 1.9 and high-income countries as low as 1.7.


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