The Population Research Centre at the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics celebrated World Population Day on 11 July 2022. The event had a panel discussion among three social scientists–two demographers and political scientists—in the first part. Watch it here.
The highlight of the event was a lecture by a former Chief Election Commissioner of India, Dr S Y Quraishi. He was India’s CEC from July 2010 to June 2012, and the assembly elections to politically important states of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh happened under his watch.
Quraishi was the invited chief guest at the event, and he spoke at length about certain myths about India’s population popular among the general public, especially those on the religion-wise population. He used a PowerPoint presentation full of data from the Censuses of India and the National Family Health Surveys.
Dr SY Quraishi mentioned that the total fertility rate for Muslims is also declining as it is declining for the population as a whole. He used data to show that the differential between the fertility rates of Hindus and Muslims has also been declining over the last few decades.
“While about 55 per cent of Muslims do not practice family planning, 45 per cent of Hindus, too, do not follow it. This makes both communities sit shoulder to shoulder in terms of family planning,” he said.
Citing old research, he also said that polygamy is prevalent among all communities in India to a similar extent, and Muslims as a religious community have the smallest percentage.
He also busted the myth that Muslim communities give birth to more children because polygamy is prevalent in the religion.
In terms of making sure family planning reaches each and every household in the country, he urged that Muslim religious leaders should be involved in educating the community. As religion forms an important part of everyone’s personal life, religious leaders can take up that mantle, he said.