Saffronising the Womb :: Indian Currents Editorial

Procreation is no Panacea

Dr Suresh Mathew

Narendra Modi Government came to power on people’s agenda. The core issues were: to initiate development, bring back black money, end corruption, contain inflation and ensure women’s safety. Angered by the failure of the UPA Government on many of these counts, people gave a decisive mandate to the BJP to take the country on development path. But the Sangh Parivar seems to have hijacked this people-oriented agenda and imposed its own pernicious, bizarre programmes. The latest is the fear psychosis being unleashed by fringe Hindutva elements on the declining Hindu population.

It all started with Sakshi Maharaj, the maverick BJP Member of Parliament, urging Hindu women to procreate at least four children to keep pace with the growing minority population in the country. He aggressively put forward the view that ‘producing’ more children is the only way to secure the future of Hindus whose population is dwindling fast. Giving credence to this view, none else but the Shankaracharya of Badrikashram, Shri Vasudevanand Saraswati, threw his weight behind Maharaj. He went a step further stating that Hindu women should have 10 children each. He argued zealously his case justifying it as the only way to maintain the majority status of Hindus. He cemented his view saying “ India belonged to Hindus earlier, it belongs to Hindus now and will continue to belong to Hindus.”Joining the‘produce more children’chorus was another saffron leader Sadhvi Prachi who too urged her Hindu sisters to follow the Sakshi Maharaj line.

The contention of the Hindu leaders is faulty on many counts. It is wrong to say that the demography is changing fast with drastic decline in Hindu population taking it to minority status. It is true that the community’s population has come down from 83.45 per cent in 1961 to around 80 per cent in 2011. Also the Muslim strength has gone up from 10.69 per cent to about 14 per cent during the same period. However, the population of other minority religions remains more or less stagnant. There are many factors other than rate of procreation for this phenomenon, the influx of Muslims from Bangladesh being one of them.

Even if one admits that there is decline in Hindu population, the remedy suggested by the leaders is an insult to the power, potential and capacity of about 50 per cent of our population. To treat women as child-bearing factories is an affront to the very womanhood. The prescription of the law-maker is contrary to the population policy of his government which emphasises on birth control. Population explosion is one of sticky problems the country faces. It is the prime cause for lack of optimum result of many schemes. Equally important, the leaders of the Hindu community should introspect as to why people leave their religion. Are they trying to escape the degrading and humiliating caste system by converting to other religions. The remedy for declining Hindu population should be sought within the community rather than prescribing more demeaning solutions.                 

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