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Hindu-Muslim Fertility Differentials Author(s): R. B. Bhagat and Purujit Praharaj Source: Economic and Political Weekly, Vol.

40, No. 5 (Jan. 29 - Feb. 4, 2005), pp. 411-418 Published by: Economic and Political Weekly Stable URL: . Accessed: 28/06/2011 04:49
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Fertility Hindu-Muslim


Although a Hindu-Muslimdifferential in fertility has persisted in India, it is no more than one child, and even this gap is not likely to endure as fertility among Muslims declines with increasing levels of eduation and standards of living. While the lower level of contraceptive use among Muslims is the most important factor responsiblefor the fertility the use of contraceptives has increasedfaster among Muslims in recent timnes. differentials, However, the relatively higher fertility among Muslims cannot be understood independentof its socio-economic and political contexts.

t is an undeniablefact that the natureof Hindu-Muslim is relations extremelyimportant peace andprosperity for in betweentte twolargest theIndian subcontinent. relations The are of religious groups notonlybasedon perceptions oneanother, but is rootedin the politicaleconomyand historyof India.The dimensionof demography addedduringcolonial rule due was to the interestof the colonial government the demographic in size anddistribution religiousand culturalcommunities. of As in such,thecensusstarted 18721andwasdominated religious, by racialand cultural of categoriesunlikethe preponderance economic categories in the census of Great Britain. Thus, the of understanding India's populationgrew in a demographic different contextduring colonialrule,unlikeits genesisin Great Britain[Jones 1981]. The genesis of majority minoritywas a logical outcome and in the evolutionof the religiousdemography India,aidedby of an increased of understanding the size, growthand distribution of population religiousdenominations. newdemographic The by however,hardlyserved the interestsof the Indian discovery, massesbutturned to be a new weaponof colonialdomination out the through policyof divideandrule.Nowherewas it as blatantly visibleas in the case of the divisionof Bengalon religiouslines in 1905, whichwas perhaps precursor the divisionof the the to the size of countryin 1947 [Bhagat2001]. Further, population in was religiousgroupsandtheirproportion the totalpopulation inventedas a new instrument communalpoliticsin the form of of separateelectorates,where religious minoritieswere given seats in legislativeand even local bodies according to separate the proportion their populationin the respectiveterritories of size and strength [Hasan1980]. In this way, the demographic of religiouscommunities, of Hindusand Muslims, particularly enteredinto the political consciousnessduringcolonial rule, which continuedin independent India. The decline in the proportion Hindus,from 75.1 per cent of in 1881to 72.9 percent in 1901,in undivided India[Davis 1951] a created paranoid reaction Muslims that wouldoutnumber Hindus, which is repeatedafter almost every census [Mukherji1909; Datta 1993]. Althoughthe Muslimpopulation growthrate has continuedto be higherthanthat of the Hindusduringthe last five decades,severaldemographers agreethatit is notlikelythat Muslims will become a majorityin India in the foreseeable future.2 The core issue in Hindu-Muslim population growthdifferentialsis fertility.3 to According severalresearchers, fertilityis the betweenHindus majorfactorin population growthdifferentials

andMuslims[Davis 1951:Bhat2004]. However,fertilityitself is likelytobeinfluenced a number socio-economic of variables by suchas education, economicstatusof thehousehold, occupation, caste/tribe statusandreligion.According Bongaarts Potter and to factorsmustbe the principal causes (1983:14),socio-economic of fertility trendsand differentials.While the role of socioeconomicfactorsinfluencingfertilitycannotbe denied,its rewith religionandthe influenceon fertilityis increaslationship ingly beingdebated[JefferyandJeffery2000, 2002; Iyer2002; et and 2004; Morgan al 2002;Bhat2004;Dharmalingam Morgan et to Chattopadhyay al 2004]. Thepresent paperattempts understand how socio-economicvariablesinfluence fertility levels betweenHindusand Muslimsand examinesthe explanations from a politicaland economic perspective.

Status and Fertility Religion,Minority

Thereareseveralarguments advanced to relating religionand of fertility.An argument the 'particularised theology'says that it is the very essence of religion that influencesfertility,irfactors.On respectiveof any socio-economicor demographic the other hand,othersarguethat fertilitydifferentials the are outcomeof differencesin the socio-economic characteristics of themembers different of Thus,it is notreligion religiousgroups. of per se, but the characteristics the religiousgroupsthat are in important influencingfertilitylevels [Chamei1977]. It is also arguedthatthe minoritystatusof a religious/ethnic socialandpsychological which groupcanengender insecurities, can lead to a decreasein fertilityprovidedthat(i) acculturation of minority occursin conjunction thedesire with groupmembers for acculturation; equalisation social andeconomiccharof (ii) acteristics in socialclass occurs, particularly themiddleandupper levels,and/or thereis a desirefor socialandeconomicmobility, and(iii)there nopronatalist is ideologyandnonorms discouraging theuseof contraceptives withintheminority group[Goldscheider andUhlenberg1969:272].The underlying processbehindthese is assumptions thatwhen minoritycouplesembracethe norms andvaluesof theupward mobilegroupbutfail to realisethem by fully, assimilationwill be experiencedin part only. In other words,assimilation occurin some dimension education may say oroccupation, notin others. but Whatthenexistsis a discrepancy, whichproducessocial-psychological and insecurities, minority couples limit their family sizes in an attemptto solidify their socio-economic of position[Halli1990].Theframework minority statuswas appliedto explain why fertilitywas low among

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American ethnic groups like Jews, higher status blacks and among Japanese-Americans[Goldscheider and Uhlenberg 1969]. Halli (1987) further attempted to revise the minority status hypothesis by adding new concepts such as 'ascribed' and 'perceived' minority status. According to him, numerical minority is 'ascribed' minority, while 'perceived' minority means greater sense of ethnic identity, maintenance of intra-group interactionsand having faith in common beliefs. From an analysis of the fertility behaviour of Chinese and Japanese minorities in Canada, Halli (1987) concluded that minority fertility is lower than that of the majority at upper socio-economic levels and higher at lower socio-economic levels. Researchers furtherargue that religious differentials in fertility could be result of discrimination in access to healthcare and family planning services between religious groups [Iyer 2002]. However, the Indian situation is unique in several respects. For example, Muslims are not a homogeneous group but differ widely in terms of their socio-economic and demographic behaviour in different regions of the country. Dyson and Moore (1983) opined that regional factors outweigh religious ones as HinduandMuslims show more similarities with each otherwithin regional demographic regimes, than they do with co-religionists elsewhere in the subcontinent. Thus they are closer to Hindus in their socio-economic and demographic behaviour within each regionin the country[Ahmad 1999:JefferyandJeffery2000,2002]. An understanding of Hindu-Muslim differentials in fertility cannot be divorced from Hindu-Muslim relations in India. In this context, it is importantto remember that Hindu-Muslim relations have been much straineddue to frequent and repeatedriots, which started during the colonial regime [Sarkar 1983:106] and occurred time and again in independent India (for an inventory of communal riots see Engineer (2004a). Riots are likely to play an important role in stalling the rate of fertility decline by communal polarisation, the instilling of fear and perpetuation insecurities. In a riot torn situation, it is likely that a more conservativeinterpretation religious tenets prevailsas it provides of a strong basis for consolidating the religious group. As a result, the modernisation of reproductive norms and values is likely to be thwarted and the freedom and independence of women seriously restricted [Chattopadhyay et al 2004:151]. On the other hand,riots can furtheraffect the delivery of healthcareand family planningservices andprevent many Muslims from going to health centres when the bulk of staff are from the Hindu community. Communal tension as such results in a lack of confidence and increases mistrustbetween religious groups, leading to the denial of access to healthcare services provided by the government. While the rich can cope with this by availing services from the private sector, the poor have no choice but to suffer. However, studies on Hindu-Muslims fertility differentials generally ignore these aspects and focus on the character of Muslim religion. It is our contention that such an interpretation is narrow and devoid of the historical, socio-economic and political contexts of religion influencing fertility in India. On the other hand, it is also a potentially loaded move to incite violence against Muslims by heightening the threatperception among the majority Hindus about higher population growth and fertility among the minority [Sengupta el al 2003:74]. In orderto throw light on the complex issues of Hindu-Muslim fertility differentials and the reasons associated with them, we present below socio-economic differentials followed by fertility

factors influencing analysisof religionandothersocio-economic use fertility;the level and trendin contraceptive and;the difbetweenthetwo ferencesin reasonsfor notusingcontraceptives religiousgroups. Socio-Economic Differentials

Muslimsarethe secondlargestreligiousgroupof Indiacomaccording prising13.4 (138 million)per cent of the population of to the 2001 Census.Nearlyone-third Muslimslive in urban areascompared one-fourth Hindus.However,the literacy to of rateamongMuslimsis foundto be lower thanHindusandthat of the national average.Whilethe differencein averageliteracy ratesbetweenHindusandMuslimsis 6 percent,it is muchwider (nearly9 per cent) in case of male literacy.On the otherhand, Muslim lowerliteracy thanHindu rate womenhadonlya 3 percent women 2001.TheCensus in 2001,forfirsttimeafter independence, releasedvaluabledataon literacyalongwith workparticipation fromcensus by religion.But, we still do not have information aboutthe educational levels of literatepopulations religion. by with However,availablestudies show that the differentials at respectto Muslimwomenincreased higherlevelsof education such as completedmiddle, matriculation, graduateand postlevels. This is also truein respectof the educational graduate of attainment Muslim men. Most importantly, however, the enrolment ratesof Muslimgirlshavefallensteeplyin thedecade of 1990s and thereafter [Shariff2004]. The workparticipation rate, which measuresthe numberof workersper 100 of the shows an even worsepictureof Muslimscompared population, to Hindus thenational or (Table1).Muslimwomenshow average low levels of workparticipation (14 per cent), almost rate very half that of Hinduwomen. of Being moreurbanbased,a higherpercentage Muslimsare activities.However,in urbanareas engagedin non-agricultural mostof the Muslimworkforce self-employed percent), are (52 comparedto Hindus (37 per cent) in 1999-2000. Similarly, regularsalariedworkersconstitutedonly 27 per cent among Muslimscompared 43 per cent amongHindus.This shows to thatevenif Muslimsaremoreurban based,theyfall muchbehind in botheducation employment and levels as compared Hindus to andto the nationalaverage[NSSO2001:22].We also find that
Table 1: Socio-Economic Differentials between Hindus and Muslims, India, 2001
(Inper cent) Indicators Urbanpopulation Literates Total Male Female Percentageof workersto totalpopulation Total Male Female Percentageof workersin Agriculture Household Industry Other Sex-Ratio(F/M)per 1000 in Percentage population age group(0-6) Hindus 26.1 65.1 76.2 53.2 40.4 52.4 27.5 60.7 3.8 35.5 931 15.6 Muslims AllReligions 35.7 59.1 67.6 50.1 31.3 47.5 14.1 42.7 8.1 49.1 936 18.7 27.8 64.8 75.3 53.7 39.1 51.7 25.6 58.2 4.2 37.6 933 15.9

differentials between Hindus and Muslims; a multivariate

Source: 'TheFirstReporton ReligionData', Census of India2001, Registrar Generaland Census Commissioner, India.


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thelevelsof poverty wereveryhighamongMuslimsin bothrural and urbanareasin the 1980s and early 1990s (Table 2). of to Nearlyhalfof thepopulation Muslimsbelonged thebelow line in areascompared poverty category theearly 1990sin urban to less thanone-third Table2 showsthatnotonly amongHindus. is the povertylevel amongMuslimsmuchhigherin both rural andurban areas,buttheHindu-Muslim in povertylevels also gap widenedduringthe periodfrom the mid-1980sto early 1990s. Ithasbeenpointed thata remarkable out feature theeconomic of structure Muslimsociety is that the middle class is almost of the whereas middleclassamongtherestof thepopulation absent, is growingat a fasterpace duringthe last decadeor so [Shariff 2004]. It is worthwhileto mentionthat the upperand middle classes have playeda pioneeringrole in the fertilitytransition in the European countriesin 19th century. Fertility Differentials

In the studyof fertilitydifferentials measures fertility, of two namely,totalfertilityrate(TFR)andchildrenever born(CEB) aregenerallyused.CEB is a cohortmeasureof fertility;on the otherhand,TFR represents periodmeasureof fertilityandis a to suitable studycurrent fertilitylevels. Inthisstudy,TFRis used to studythe levels, changesanddifferentials fertilitybetween in Hindusand Muslims,whereasCEB is employedin the multivariate correlates analysisto examinetheroleof socio-economic influencingfertility. Demographically speaking,TFR is a summarymeasureof fertilitybasedon age specificfertilityrates(ASFRs).ASFRsare obtained dividingthe number live birthsin a calendar of by year womenof an age group,by the number womenin that of among age group. Mathematically, summing up of the ASFRs and multiplying age intervalgives the measureof TFR.In short, by Socio-economic Correlates of Fertility TFRmeansthenumber children wouldbe bornto a woman of that in her entirereproductive if she remainsalive (for details life Among all socio-economicfactors,female educationis consee IUSSP 1974:85). sidered to be one of the most important factors influencing Table3 presents TFRsfor HindusandMuslimsfor the period fertility [Zachariah1984; Cochrane1988; Unisa and Bhagat 1984 to 1998-99.The differencein TFR betweenHindusand Table 2: Percentage of Population Below Poverty Line among Muslimswas of 1.1 childrenin 1984, whichpersistedin 1992Hindus and Muslims, India, 1987-88 to 1993-94 93. However,thisdifferencewas reducedto less thanone child 1987-88 1993-94 observedfromTable3 that Areas/ All Hindus MuslimsRatioof All HindusMuslimsRatioof (0.8) in 1998-99.It may be further Year declineamongMuslimswas relativelyhighercompared India fertility Muslims India Muslims to Hindusduringthe period 1992-93to 1998-99.For example, to to Hindus Hindus TFRdeclinedfrom5.6 childrenamongMuslimsin 1984 to 3.6 in children 1998-99- a declineof twochildren womanduring Rural 39.1 40.8 39.9 0.98 37.3 37.5 41.3 1.10 per the span of 15 years, whereasthe decline among Hinduswas Urban 38.2 36.8 54.6 1.48 32.4 29.9 48.5 1.62 less thantwochildren the during sameperiod.It is alsoimportant Source: See Mari (2004)forHindu-Muslim Bhat levels. AllIndia poverty figures torecognise fertility are from PlanningCommission. For 1987-88 figures see Shelter, that levelamongMuslims comparatively was Vol HUDCO/HSMI, 5, No 2, p 73, and for 1993-94, PC (2002), p 166. higher(nearlysix children)thanHindus(nearlyfive children) in the early 1970s, when fertilitytransitionbegan in India. Table 3: Total FertilityRate (TFR)among Hindus and Muslims, 1984 to 1998-99 of this untilthe However, initialdifference one childpersisted was early 1990s,andafterwhicha narrowing in theoffing in the Groups 1984 1992-93 Percentage 1998-99 Percentage late 1990s.In a recentstudy,we havealso observedthatHinduDecline Decline (1992-93 to (1984 to Muslimfertility differentials weremoreor less samein theearly 1992-93) 1998-99) andlatestagesof demographic whereas transition, theywidened Hindus 4.5 3.3 26.6 2.8 15.2 in the middlestageof the transition et [Chattopadhyay al 2004]. Muslims 5.6 4.4 21.4 3.6 18.2 In the studyof the level, trendand differentials with regard All 4.5 3.4 24.4 2.9 14.7 religions to Muslimfertility,there are two more important dimensions Source: For 1984, see FertilityDifferentialsin India 1984, Vital Statistics which needto be focused upon.Firstly,amongMuslimsrthemOfficeof the Registrar Division, General,New Delhi.Figuresfor1992selves thereexist wide variationsin fertilitylevels within the 93 and 1998-99 are fromNFHS-I IIrespectively; lIPS(1995) and see and secondly,globally Muslimcountriesshow a very country, and lIPS (2000).
Economic and Political Weekly

in TFRamong highdegreeof divergence fertilitylevels. InIndia, in to Muslimsvaried from2.5 children Kerala nearlysix children Muslimfertilityin anyof the foursouthern in Haryana. Further, Tamil Nadu Andhra and Pradesh Kerala, states, Karnataka, namely, is muchlower thanHindufertilityin any of fourlargeststates, Pradesh Pradesh Uttaranchal), namely,Utttar Madhya (including and (including Chhattisgarh),Bihar (including Jharkhand) in India(see NFHS-2,StateLevelReports). Rajasthan) northern Thisdimension Hindu-Muslim of about fertilityled to thedebate whetherit was religion or region that was more important in influencingfertilitylevels in India [Jefferyand Jeffery2000]. Globally, fertility levels in Musli:n majoritycountrieslike Indonesia (2.6), Iran(2.8), Bangladesh 1) andMalaysia(3.2) (3. areeitherlowerthanorclose to thefertility themajority of Hindu in India. achievement low fertility Indonesia The of in population has beenpossiblethrough that vigorousfamilyplanning is well with the healthcare integrated provisionsin the country.Similarly,fertilityratesdeclinedvery sharplyin recentyearsin two otherMuslimcountries,namely,Iranand Bangladesh. Iran, In TFR was 6.5 in 1970-75, which declinedto 2.8 in 1995-2000, and in Bangladeshit declinedfrom a high of 7.1 in 1970-75, to 3.1 in 1995-2000.Inboththecountries, successof fertility the decline goes to the credit of family planning programmes [Das GuptaandNarayana 1997;Engineer 2004b].On the other hand,fertilityrateswerefoundto be very high in SaudiArabia (5.8), Jordan(4.9), Pakistan(5.0) and Iraq(5.3) in 1995-2000 [UNDP2000]. Thus,the fertilitylevels anddifferentials among MuslimswithinIndia,as well as across Muslimcountries,indicatethatreproductive behaviour amongMuslimsis essentially not uniform, therearefactorsotherthanreligion,whichare and even more important.

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2000;DrezeandMurthi and 2001].Thisis alsotruewhenwe compare of a small familynormis difficultto be advanced Muslims fertilitylevels withineach level of educationbetweenHindus are no exceptionto this. andMuslimsin India.In earlierstudieson fertilityby religion, a declinein fertilitywith an increasein the level of educational Muslims and Family Planning attainment observed.This led the researchers conclude was to that educationis the most important of determinant fertility, In the study of fertility,it is generallybelieved that socioof irrespective religion [Rele and Kanitkar1976:378].Recent economic factorsaffect fertilityvia some proximatedetermidatashow thatTFR amongilliterateMuslimwomen was five, nants,namely proportion women currently of married, at age as compared threeamongthose who had passedhigh school marriage women,post-partum to of abortion and infecundability, or more, duringthe early 1990s (Table 4). Compared this, the use of familyplanning to methods,etc. Davis (1951) observed Hinduwomen have four and two childrenrespectively,with thatin pre-independent HinduIndia,a majorfactorinfluencing similareducational levels. Althoughthe Hindu-Muslims in Muslimfertility differentials theextentof widowremarriage was gap fertilitylevel persistswithineach level of education,it is also truethat fertilitydeclines significantlywith a rise in the level Table 4: Total Fertility Rate (TFR) among Hindus and Muslims by Levels of Education, 1992-93 of educationamongMuslims.As a result,the Hindu-Muslims of Illiterate Literate but in fertilityalso narrows Middle down if women are educatedupto Groups/Level HighSchool gap below Middle Complete and Above school and above as comparedto the illiterates.This in- Education high But Below dicatesthatwith a decline in fertility,the persistence differof HighSchool entialsin fertilitybetween Hindus and Muslims is not likely Hindus 3.9 2.9 2.5 2.1 to last for a very long time. Muslims 5.0 3.6 3.1 3.0 A multivariate of fertilityshows thatthe influenceof Allreligions analysis 4.0 3.0 2.5 2.2 education fertilityremainssignificanteven aftercontrolling on Source: IIPS(1995): 99 forothersocio-economic variables. Table5 presents resultsfrom a multivariate regressionanalysis takingCEB as a dependent Table 5: Regression Analysis of Factors Affecting Children Ever Born, 1998-99 variable. The variables includedin the analysisare age, marital duration sincefirstmarriage, region,religion,women'seducation Predictors Values B3 and occupation,husband'soccupation,caste and standard Rural Urban of etc. living(SLI),4 It shows thatthe influenceof religionremains Age -.080*** -.139*** after for duration but .723*** .712*** significant variables, this Marital (since firstmarriage) controlling socio-economic is the case with other variableslike educationas well. That Women'seducation Belowmiddle -.027*** -.059*** does influence Middle religionis important notnegatetheindependepent -.024*** complete -.081*** of educationand standard living on fertility.However,re- HSCand above of -.020*** -.146*** searchersresortingto multivariateanalysis based on cross- Illiterate sectionaldatagenerallymiss the latterwhile emphasising the Women'soccupation .013*** -.010* former [Mishra2004; Dharmalingam and Morgan 2004]. It Agriculture Non-agriculture -.013*** -0.26*** be furtherobserved from Table 5 that scheduledcastes Notworking may tribes(STs)- two mostsocio-economically Husband'soccupation (SCs) andscheduled .094*** .022** disadvantagedgroups - also show a significantly higher Agriculture Non-agriculture .098*** .035*** than the rest, when we control the socio-economic Notworking fertility variables the regressionmodel. The independent in effect of Religion .082*** .130** for religionon fertilityaftercontrolling severalsocio-economic Muslim .031*** .020*** variableson the one hand, and the autonomousinfluence of Others Hindu? education on the other, affirm that education and religion Ethnicity to operatein an interacting .040*** .048*** system.It is important keep in mind SC .041*** the dialecticsof religionand educationthat influencefertility, ST .056*** OBC .024*** .029*** and wherethe impactof the politico-economic systemof com- Others munalrelation,conflict and violence is inescapable. The latter Standardof livingindex factorsare important they createnew barriers the access Medium as in -.012*** .016* High -.043*** to familyplanningservices,mistrustof government -.028** sponsored Low? and family planningprogrammes communalconsolidationby Exposureto mass media behaviourbased on the Yes redefiningthe normsof reproductive -.044**' -.043*** perception that number is strength. A simple model of No? variablebased analysis is perhaps not able to explain this Region North .121** .121** complexissue which has various micro and macro linkages East .068*** .031*** andinfluences. West .039*** .034*** Ontheotherhand,it is worthwhile notethatfertilitydecline Central .156*** to .130*** North-east .109*** .078*** is notnecessarily but evenamong South preconditioned, canbe induced theuneducated thegovernment's effortsin theareasof family AdjustedR square by .470 .469 and about themassmedia N planning ideational 62247 changesbrought 28054 by [James1999:Bhat2002]. However,it is our contention that,in Notes: *** percent significant 99 level, **95 percent significant level, * 90 per a situation communal of conflict,an ideational changein favour cent significantlevel. ? is referencecategory.
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amongHindusandMuslims.A higherrateof widowremarriage to Hindus.The increasein the use of spacingmethodsamong to India Muslimswas very impressive(63 per cent) during1992-93to amongMuslimscompared Hindusin pre-independence accounted one-third the fertilitydifferentials for of betweenthe 1998-99. In a nutshell,Table 6 shows that althoughthe level two religiousgroups[Davis 1951:81].Bhat (2004:65)believes of familyplanning Muslims lowerthan is Hindus, practices among thatthe differencein widow remarriages betweenthe two com- the increasehas been fasteramong Muslimsin recenttimes. munitieshas disappeared the post independence in The practiceof family planningby level of educationand periodbecause of a decreasein widowhood,as a resultof the decline in standard living shows higheruse amongmoreeducatedand of levels. Thus, it is no longera factoraffectingHindu- better sections,irrespective religion.AmongMuslims,the off of mortality Muslimfertilitydifferentials. Anotherimportant aspect,which use of any modernmethodof family planningincreasesfrom is raisedtime and again in respect to Hindu-Muslim to fertility 23 percent amongilliterates nearly38 percent amongthose is to differentials, thelevel of polygynous(a manhavingmorethan educated high school level andabove (Table7), andfrom22 one wife) marriagesamong Muslims and its higher fertility per cent amongthe low level of standard living categoryto of of impact.While it is not true that the incidenceof polygynous 38 per cent in the high standard living one (Table8). What is rule is important note fromTable7 is thatincreasein the current to Muslims, marriages higher among demographers generally outthepossibility polygyny of to use of any methodsof modernfamily planningis muchhigher leading higher fertility [Bongaarts andLesthaeghe there 1984;Bhat2004:65].Furthermore, is also among Muslims (14 percentagepoints) comparedto Hindus little differencein the meanage at marriage women(nearly (8 percentage of whentheeducation levelof Muslim women points), 19 years) [Unisa and Bhagat 1991; Bhat 2004:65] and the increasesfrom illiterateto high school and above. Moreover, to of proportioncurrentlymarried,between Hindu and Muslims. compared standard living, an increasing educational level Researchers have also observed that post-partum abstinence of womenproduces greater a on impact theuseof familyplanning and of [Moulasha Rao 1999] and the averageduration breast- among Muslimsrelativeto Hindus. determinant post-partum of amenorrhea Table 9 presentsthe unmetneed of family planningamong feeding-animportant do notvarymuchbetweenthe two religiousgroups[IIPS2000]. Hindusand Muslims.It may be observedthatthe unmetneed that determinants related Thus,itis evident muchof theproximate Table 7: Percentage of CurrentlyMarriedWomen Using to cultural are practices no longersignificantin causingHinduContraceptive Methods among Hindus and Muslims by Levels Muslim in differentials fertility. sucha situation, In familyplanning of Education, 1998-99 determinant influencemergesas themostsignificant proximate Educational Level Hindus Muslims AllReligion ing Hindu-Muslims fertility differentials.Accordingto Bhat Any Any Any Any Any Any alone can accountfor almostall the (2004:73)familyplanning Method Modern Method Method Method Modern current differencesin Hindu-Muslim Method Modern Method fertility. It may be observedfrom Table 6 thatthe current of any Illiterate use 41.0 38.0 29.0 23.3 39.7 36.3 methodsof family planningwas observedto be 37 per cent in Literate but 54.0 48.9 42.3 35.1 52.2 47.1 1998-99 amongMuslims,as comparedto 49 per cent among below Middle completebut Hindus.Similarly,the use of any modernmethodsvariedfrom Middle school 50.6 below high 43.2 45.5 37.7 50.4 43.0 30 per cent among Muslims to 44 per cent among Hindus Highschool and above 55.7 46.1 44.6 37.5 55.0 54.4 duringthe same period. However, the increase in the use of wasmuchfaster methods,aswellasmodern Source:Calculatedbased on NFHS-II. any methods, among Muslimsduring 1992-93 to 1998-99 as comparedto Hindus. Table 8: Percentage of CurrentlyMarriedWomen Using femalesterilisation most is methods, Amongall familyplanning Methods among Hindus and Muslims by Levels and male sterilisation the least amongbothHindus Contraceptive Standard of Living is prevalent of (SLI),1998-99 and Muslims. Hindus Muslims AllReligion It is not truethatsterilisation not popularamongMuslims. SLI is Any Any Any Any Any Any Forexample,femalesterilisation constituted per cent of any 65 Method Modern Method Method Method Modern modem Method usedbycurrently Modern married Method Muslim contraceptives women, to compared nearly82 per cent amongHinduand 80 per cent Low 36.9 33.7 28.9 22.0 36.0 32.4 47.0 42.5 amongall women.Ontheotherhand,Muslimsuse a higherlevel Medium 35.1 29.1 45.7 40.9 60.6 52.9 43.8 of spacing 37.8 58.8 methods pills,IUDandcondoms alsotraditional High like 51.0 and methodslike periodicabstinenceand withdrawal compared Source:Calculatedbased on NFHS-II. as
Table 6: Percentage of Currently Married Women Using Contraceptive Methods among Hindus and Muslims, 1992-93 to 1998-99 Methods Contraceptive 1992-93 Anymethod Anymodernmethod Femalesterilisation Malesterilisation Spacing*methods method Anytraditional* Other 41.6 37.7 29.0 3.7 4.9 3.9 0.2 Hindus 1998-99 49.2 44.3 36.2 2.1 6.0 4.7 0.3 Percentage Change 18.2 17.5 24.8 -43.2 22.4 20.5 50.0 1992-93 27.7 22.0 14.4 1.6 6.0 5.7 0.4 Muslims 1998-99 Percentage Change 37.0 30.2 19.6 0.8 9.8 6.4 0.4 35.5 37.2 36.1 -50.0 63.3 12.3 0.00 1992-93 40.6 36.3 27.3 3.4 5.5 4.3 0.2 AllReligion 1998-99 Percentage Change 48.2 42.8 34.2 1.9 6.8 50 0.4 18.7 17.9 25.2 -44.1 23.6 16.3 100.00

Notes: * Spacing methods includePills, IUDand condoms; * Traditional methodsincludeperiodicabstinence, rhythm/safe periodand withdrawal. Source: IIPS(1995) and IIPS(2000).

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of family planningis higheramong Muslimsboth for spacing and limitingmethods. This is also consistentlytruefor both NFHS-Iand NFHS-II. is It maybe further notedthatthe need for familyplanning less satisfiedamongMuslimsthanHindus.This raisesan important in abouttheresponsibility the government providing of question welfareservicesto Muslims.On the otherhand,it belies family thebeliefthatMuslimsarenotwillingto acceptfamilyplanning. It is also worthwhilenote that Muslims seek family planning servicesmorefromprivatesources(Table9). However,one can of that areas, proportion themlive in urban argue sincea substantial sources. that it is natural theywillavailmoreservicesfromprivate of But this is also truefor ruralareaswherenearlytwo-thirds are Muslims reside(Table10).GiventhefactthatMuslims poorer, it is likely thatthe more rich among them are availingfamily planningservicesfrom privatesources while the poor are left behind.As a result, we find that the unmet need for family is planning higheramongMuslims.Thus,the roleof thegovernof servicesto Muslimscannot mentas provider familyplanning be ignored. Thereis alwaysa hueandcrythatMuslimsdo notacceptfamily on planning the groundof theirreligiousbeliefs. The National collectedinformation thisaspectby on HealthSurvey-II Family askingwhatthe reasonsfor not currently usingfamilyplanning in were.The resultspresented Table 11 shows thatone-tenth of Muslim womenreported didnotusefamilyplanning because they it wasagainst theirreligion.Itcannotbe deniedthatin a situation of high povertyand illiteracy,the oppositionbasedon religion assumes far more significanceamong Muslims as traditional 'ulema' can have strongercontrol [Engineer2004b]. On the otherhand,it mustbe notedthatit is not only religion but the patriarchal natureof the family thatopposesthe use of Table 11 shows thatnearly5 percentof Hindu familyplanning. womenalso reported theirhusbands othermembers that and of the family opposed the use of family planningmethods,as to compared 8 per cent among Muslims. Sex-Selective Abortions: An Emerging Factor

abortions in recent years in different parts of India [George and Dahiya 1998; Agnihotri 2002; Unisa et al 2003; Premi 2001], The 2001 Census, for the first time, published religionwise sex ratios in the population aged 0-6 years. However, there is no Table 9: Percentage of CurrentlyMarriedWomen with Unmet Need for Family Planning among Hindus and Muslims, 1992-93 to 1998-99
Social Groups UnmetNeed for UnmetNeed for FamilyPlanning,1992-93 FamilyPlanning,1998-99 Spac- Limit- Total Percent- Spac- Limit- Total Percenting* ing** ing age of ing age of Need Need Satisfied Satisfied 8.0 12.9 8.5 18.9 25.8 19.5 68.8 51.8 67.6 8.0 11.0 8.3 7.1 15.1 11.0 22.0 7.5 15.8 76.5 62.7 75.3

Hindus 10.9 Muslims 12.9 Allreligions 11.8

needforspacingincludes Notes: * Unmet womenwhosepregnancy pregnant was mistimed, amenorrhoeic was womenwhose lastbirth mistimed, andwomenwhoare neither nor and pregnant amenorrhoeic whoare notusinganymethod family of and planning whosay theywanttowait twoormoreyearsfortheirnextbirth. in Alsoincluded unmetneed for child spacingarewomenwhoare unsurewhether theywantanother or whowantanotherchildbutare unsurewhento have the birth. ** Unmetneed forlimiting refersto pregnant womenwhose pregnancy was unwanted, amenorrhoeic womenwhoselastchild unwanted, was andwomenwhoare neither noramenorrhoeic are not who pregnant methodof family andwhowantno morechildren. usingany planning Source: IIPS(1995:188) and IIPS(2000:171-72).

Table 10: Sources of ModernContraceptives among Hindus and Muslims, 1998-99

Sources Rural Hindus Muslims 85.2 (18497) 14.8 (3203) 100.0 64.1 (1118) 35.9 (627) 100.0 Urban All Hindus Muslims All Religion Religion 83.2 (20755) 16.8 (4191) 100.0 61.4 (5519) 38.6 (3164) 100.0 54.4 (791) 45.6 (664) 100.0 60.1 (6818) 39.9 (4524) 100.0

Public Private Total Note:

also includesNGOsandothersources. Figuresinparenthesis Private are numberof women. Source: Calculated based on NFHS-II Institute Population for data,International Sciences, Mumbai.

In the moststudieson fertility,differentials religionignore by the role of sex-selective abortions:perhapsthis is a recent Sex-selective abortionshave taken strong root phenomenon. the acrossareasandcommunities during 1990sandspread during thelastdecade. is truethatsex-selectiveabortion nota fertility It is controlmeasure, it is a social problem but linkedwith primarily 2001;Agnihotri 2002]. technological change[DrezeandMurthi However,in a society with widespreadson preference,sexselectiveabortions likely to eliminatefemalelive birthsand are therebyreducefertility.Thus, this factorcannotbe ignoredin the studyof Hindu-Muslims and fertilitydifferentials the tradeoff betweenfamilyplanning sex-selectiveabortions and among Hindu-Muslims will likely be the determining factor in their in fertilitydifferentials future. TheCensusof India2001, listedsex-selectiveabortions one as of the reasonsfor the decliningsex ratioof the childpopulation 0-6) in the country[Census2001]. The sex ratioof (age-group, the child population not likely to be affected by migration. is On the otherhand,a large shortfallof female birthscompared to malebirths observedin recentyearsis strongevidenceof sexselective abortionsin the country [Census 2001:91]. Several studies also indicated the rampantpractice of sex-selective

Table 11: Reasons for CurrentlyNot Using Contraceptives among Hindus and Muslims, 1998-99
Reasons Husbandaway Not havingsex sex Infrequent Menopausal/had hysterectomy Sub-fecund/infecund Post-partum/breast feeding Wantsas manychildrenas possible Opposedto familyplanning Husbandopposed Otherpeople opposed Againstreligion Knowsno method Knowsno source Healthconcerns aboutside effect Worry Hardto get method Costs too much Inconvenient Afraid sterilisation of Does not likethe existingmethods Others Don'tknow Total No of Women Hindus 2.6 1.4 1.2 8.1 4.3 7.8 46.3 0.8 3.5 0.8 0.2 1.4 2.7 3.5 3.5 0.4 0.9 0.3 2.9 3.1 2.7 1.7 100.0 26,701 Muslim AllReligion 4.3 1.1 0.7 8.4 3.4 6.3 35.7 1.4 6.2 0.6 12.5 1.2 2.4 2.4 2.5 0.4 1.5 0.2 1.8 3.2 2.9 1.0 100.0 4715 2.9 1.3 1.1 8.2 4.1 7.6 44.6 0.9 3.8 0.7 2.0 1.4 2.6 3.4 3.4 0.4 1.0 0.3 2.7 3.2 2.7 1.6 100 0 32752

Source: Calculated based on NFHS-II data.International Institute Population for Sciences, Mumbai.


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data commensurate for 1991 or earlierperiods.In the absence of this, it is not possible to determinethe extent of decline in the child sex ratiobetweenHindusand Muslims.However,the in datapresented Table 12 shows a largedifferencein child sex and ratiosbetweenHindusandMuslimsin bothrural urban areas in 2001. It appearsthat this problemis more serious among HindusthanMuslims.5 Thus,if Hinduscontinueto havehigher differentials unlikely narrow sexselectiveabortions, are to fertility increase morerapidly evenwhenfamilyplanning among practices Muslims.The role of this crucialfactorin the studyof Hinduin is differentials thefuture extremely Muslimfertility important.


in differential fertilitypersists It is truethata Hindu-Muslim in India'sdemographic reality,but it is no morethanone child. Addressfor correspondence: in It is also not too largeto swampIndia'sHindumajority the foreseeable future. is the gaplikely to persistfor a verylong Nor Notes time as we find thatthe fertilitylevel amongMuslimsdeclines of with increasing level of educationand standards living. The 1 It was decided the British by governmentas earlyas 1856 to hold a census this fasterincreasein familyplanningamongMuslimssupports in 1861 in India. But the census could not be held due to the mutiny in 1857. In 1865, the governmentof India and the Home government conjecture. again agreedupon the principlethat a general populationcensus would It is not to be disputedthat the practiceof family planning be taken in 1871. But, the years 1867-72 were actually spent in census to is low amongMuslims,butit is also worthwhile mentionthat taking.This series of census was in fact known as the Census of 1872, which was neithera synchronouscensus nor covered the entire territory methodscomparedto they use more spacing and traditional controlled by the British [Srivastava 1972:9]. Hindus.On the otherhand,amongboth Hindusand Muslims, 2 Based on a study of populationgrowthdifferentialsbetween Hindusand female sterilisationcontinues to be the dominantmethod of Muslims during 1951-1971, Visaria (1974:372) observed, "even if the differentialsin the rate of growth of Hindus and Muslims persist, India family planning. will not become a Muslim-majority nationfor centuriesto come. Further, It is surprising find that thereis a higherunmetneed for to the differentialsobserved so far most unlikely to continue in future." Muslimsandtheyavailless servicesfrom familyplanning among In anotherstudy,Bhatia(1990) concludedthattherewas no soundreason sourceseven in ruralareas.As Muslimsare more to believe that Muslims would become a majoritycommunityin India. government Based on the differentialsof Hindu-Muslimgrowth rates, the highest illiterateand poor,it is necessaryto look into why they ulitise ever recordedduring 1981-91, Kulkarni(1996:24) estimatedthat if the less services providedby the government.Thus, the role of observeddifferentialsin Hindu-Muslimgrowth ratescontinue in future, assumesgreatersignificancein orderto speed up it would take about 250 years for the Muslims populationto catch up government with the Hindu population numerically, let alone be a majority.Bhat the fertility decline among Muslims. It is also necessaryto (2004:124) believes that the Muslim populationcan at the most reach persuadeand involve religious leadersand membersof civil up to 20 percent of the totalbefore it stabilisesby the end of this century: in the promotion family welfareprogrammes of society "Thus the fear that Muslims would outnumberHindus in India, as a among whole is totally unwarranted". Muslimsmasses in orderto mollify some of the oppositionto decline 3 Mortality and migration have also contributed in population growth family planningon religiousgrounds.The spectacular differentialsbetweenHindusand Muslims. As infantandchild mortality in fertilityin Iranand Bangladeshin recent years gives us a were loweramongMuslims[IIPS2000], thiscould be an important reason for highergrowthof the populationamong Muslims. So far as migration pathwayto follow in India. is concerned, thereis no authentic dataavailable. However,a demographers' In view of the fact thatIndiahas been experiencing repeated guess estimates show that the contributionof immigrationto Muslim riots and that demographic issues are being broughtinto the populationgrowth was likely to be in the range of 10 to 20 per cent communaldiscourse, it is necessary to distinguishbetween [Bhagat 1998; Kulkarni 1996]. on religioustheology,6 theone hand,andtheday-to-day practice 4 In NFHS-II, SLI (standardof living index) is calculated by adding the following scores: house type: 4 for 'pucca', 2 for semi-pucca, 0 for of religionon the other.Day-to-daybeliefs and practicesmay 'kachha';toilet facility:4 for own flush toilet, 2 for publicor sharedflush not necessarilyemanatefrom religiousscriptures theology, or toilet or own pit toilet, 1 for sharedor public pit toilet, 0 for no facility; source of lighting:2 for electricity, 1 for kerosene,gas or oil, 0 for other butare morelikely to be influencedby history,politicsandthe source of lighting; main fuel for cooking: 2 for electricity, liquefied conflictbetweencompetingreligiousgroups.Thus,the ensuing naturalgas, or biogas, 1 for coal, charcoal,or kerosene,0 for otherfuel; social environment couldplay an important in the perpeturole source of drinkingwater:2 for pipe, hand pump, or well in residence/ ationof certain beliefsandrelatedpractices. Thiscouldbe more yard/plot,1 for public tap, handpump,or well, 0 for other watersource; separateroom for cooking: 1 for yes, 0 for no; ownershipof house: 2 significantin a society with a large illiteratepopulationand for yes, 0 for no; ownershipof agricultural land:4 for 5 acres or more, sustainedcommunaltension.Looked at from this perspective, 3 for 2.0-4.9 acres, 2 for less than 2 acres or acreage not known, 0 for
Table 12: Sex Ratio of Children(F/Min Age Group 0-6) among Hindus and Muslims by Ruraland UrbanAreas, India,2001
Areas Rural Urban Total Hindus 931 898 925 Muslims 955 937 950 AllReligion 933 906 927 no agriculturalland; ownership of irrigatedland: 2 if household owns at leastsome irrigated land,0 forno irrigated land;ownershipof livestock: 2 if own livestock, 0 if do not own livestock; durablegoods ownership: 4 for a car or tractor,3 each for a moped/scooter/motorcycle, telephone. or refrigerator, color television, 2 each for a bicycle, electric fan. radio/ transistor,sewing machine, black and white television, water pump, bullock cart, or thresher,1 each for a mattress,pressurecooker, chair, cot/bed,table,or clock/watch.Index scores rangefrom(0- for low SLI, 14 15-24 for medium SLI, and 25-67 for high SLI. 5 Based on the analysis of child sex-ratio (0-6) by religion for the state of Punjaband Haryana,Premi (2004:4302) infers that the practice of

in we find that religion and minoritystatus is intertwined the when we compareHindu-Muslim contextof India,particularly statusaffectsfertility- withnearly How minority communities. of a halfof theMuslimpopulation beingilliterate, majority them to line belowpoverty andconstantly gimmicks, subjected electoral ulema intermittent communalriots and the sway of traditional of A combination thesefactors, - couldbe anybody's along guess? influencethe fertility and with theirinteractions reinforcements in Muslims contemof levelandacceptance family among planning and India, notreligion se.Thelackof suchanunderstandper porary that of ing has the potential religionbashing,as it is presumed the relativelyhigherfertilityamong Muslims is rootedin the thus the essentialist character Islamic of theology, ignoring contexts in which Islam is practisedin everydaylife in India. ML

Source: 'The FirstReporton ReligionData', Census of India2001, Registrar Generaland Census Commissioner,India.

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femalefoeticidein thesetwo stateshasspreadto all religiouscommunities. 6 Scholarsof Islamic studies have pointed out thatthereis nothingexplicit in the Holy Qur'an which forbids the practice of family planning by believer Muslims. On the other hand, there are instances from Hadith (sayings of the prophet)which permitfamily planning[for details, Khan 1979: 184-92; Tantawi 1988:6].

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