Last month, the United Nations (UN) population estimates revealed that India had overtaken China as the world’s most populous country for the first time. This was no ordinary achievement. With China’s one-child policy having created an imbalance in terms of boy to girl ratio, India’s population was growing by leaps and bounds.
On an average, 86,000 babies are born every day in the South Asian nation as against 49,400 in China. The UN has been keeping global population records since 1950, and it uses a country’s census data and birth and death records to calculate population.
However, this ‘feat’ has not gone down well for many in India, with some taking to social media to spread misinformation. Recently, a news item appeared in a newspaper, which focused on online misinformation, and how certain social media influencers were spreading fake news against one religious minority by quoting false data. Among these influencers is Amit Upadhyay, who has 40,000 followers, and who regularly uploads Islamophobic posts.
He claims that the reason behind India’s burgeoning population is the Muslim community and therefore Hindus should also have more babies to preserve their population. Again making use of false data, he claims that if the trend (rise in Muslim population) continues, it would not be long before India is branded as an Islamic state. In his words, “they (Muslims) will become a threat and eventually wipe out the Hindu religion from India”.
He considers the rise in population a result of a plot hatched by the Muslims, who want to outnumber the Hindus and then take control of India. A number of other social media influencers are also spreading fake news with the sole aim of creating hatred against the Muslim community and to look at them with suspicion.
A Facebook post sarcastically thanked Muslims for taking India’s population beyond China’s. Another twitter post predicted that India’s majority faith, Hinduism, would soon vanish and the country’s constitution would be replaced by the Islamic law. Though these posts fall in the category of humour, at the same time they are worrisome. In fact this is what we call systematic brainwashing.
Now putting records straight, at present, India’s population is 1.4 billion out of which 210 million are Muslims. According to the American think-tank, Pew Research Centre’s 2021 projections, Indian Muslim population would reach 311 million by 2050, which would still be a small minority out of a population of 1.7 billion people.
It has been around 75 years since the partition of the Indian subcontinent but Muslims in India are still looked at with suspicion. The mantra of secularism, which Indian leaders so boasted about, seems to have been lost in the midst of anti-Muslim slogans. A couple of years ago an article appeared in The Guardian which had painted a dismal picture of Narendra Modi’s India.
A paragraph from the article has somewhat summarized the state of affairs in the so-called largest democracy in the world. It says, “for seven decades, India has been held together by its constitution, which promises equality to all. But Narendra Modi’s BJP is remaking the nation into one where some people count as more Indian than others.” From all of this, one can conclude that India has slid down to its lows under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), especially when it comes to its treatment of minorities.