Monday, March 31, 2014

When uttering the truth can be a sin!

Last Saturday (March 29, 2014) Republican hopefuls for the 2016 presidential election - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R), Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) and Ohio Governor John Kasich were in Las Vegas, courting donors. They were invited at the Republican Jewish Coalition's (RJC) 2014 Spring Leadership Meeting. They all spoke, addressing topics ranging from fiscal responsibility to foreign policy, offering, of course, a strong defense of Israel.

Walker vowed that the GOP's next presidential nominee must be someone "from outside Washington," touting his success at the state level in cutting spending. He also chimed in on Obamacare, prodding the party to move forward on a new idea. He said that the party "can't go back in time," and need to replace Obamacare with something "patient-centered."

Christie, on his part, recalled the 2012 trip he and his family took to Israel. He said, “I took a helicopter ride from the occupied territories across and just felt personally how extraordinary that was to understand, the military risk that Israel faces every day.” The story was intended to forge common cause with Jewish casino owner Sheldon Adelson (who has been financing illegal Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories flouting international laws) and the several hundred donors to the Republican Jewish Coalition to which Christie was speaking.

But as soon as Christie uttered the term “occupied territories”, it set off murmurs in the crowd. It is a forbidden word in Zionism, and amongst zealous Zionists who consider the term as validating Palestinian challenges over Israel’s illegal occupation and presence there. Other Christian Zionist supporters of Israel also oppose the use of the term in spite of the fact that the international community, including Israel’s greatest benefactor – the USA, officially maintains that the West Bank of the Jordan River with Jerusalem, which was annexed by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israel War, comprises the Occupied Territories. The Zionist state has been maintaining a military presence ever since 1967.

Christie’s comments drew criticism amongst the die-hard supporters of the illegal Jewish settlement movement. The 80-year-old GOP mega donor Adelson could not have been amused.  He owns the Venetian resort that hosted the four-day conference – already being dubbed "the Sheldon primary" – complete with Scotch tastings, private roundtable panels, golf, poker and other activities. In the 2012 election cycle, Adelson poured in more than $90 million to super PACs and candidates including Newt Gingrich to unseat President Obama and other Democrats. With his dirty casino money, he remains a formidable force in American politics, a fact which was not lost last weekend.

According to published reports, soon after the speech, Morton Klein, president of the hawkish Zionist Organization of America, confronted Christie about his use of the term, lecturing the New Jersey governor that “at minimum you should call it disputed territories.” According to Politico, Christie was non-committal at the beginning.  The governor “either doesn’t understand the issue at all, or he’s hostile to Israel,” said Klein.

Later, however, Christie met with Adelson privately in the casino mogul’s office in the Venetian hotel and casino, which hosted the RJC meeting. We are told that there Christie “clarified in the strongest terms possible that his remarks today were not meant to be a statement of policy,” and conveyed that he “is an unwavering friend and committed supporter of Israel, and was sorry for any confusion that came across as a result of the misstatement.” Adelson accepted Christie’s explanation.

Besides the comment, Christie largely impressed the crowd Saturday night. He also criticized the Obama administration’s approach to foreign policy, which the RJC crowd distrusts deeply. “We cannot have a world where our friends are unsure of whether we’ll be with them, and our enemies are unsure of whether we’ll be against them,” Christie said to loud applause. He also recounted meeting the hawkish Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an RJC favorite, and being “extraordinarily taken by his strength and resolve.”

The three governors are considered likely contenders for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. Party loyalists hope their attendance this weekend will help convince Adelson to support an establishment candidate in the next presidential, rather than a dark horse candidate like Newt Gingrich who he propped up with millions in 2012. Christie got loud applause when he said, "It’s time for us to stop as a party killing each other."

The mini-controversy and quick apology from Governor Christie once again highlight the influence of the powerful ‘Israel Lobby’ in dictating what’s kosher for American politicians and what’s not when it comes to the Middle East politics.

As the adage goes: hell can freeze, but don’t dare to challenge the Israeli interest in the USA! To succeed as a politician in this country one must appear and sound more Zionist than an Israeli Jew.


You can read more by clicking here and here.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Question of Minorities – part 4


In 1909, a Hindu communalist by the name of Colonel U.N. Mukherji wrote a pamphlet Hindus: A Dying Race. His projections, based on the study of census data between 1881 and 1901, suggested that Hindu demographic share was declining with every passing decade. Col. Mukherji met Swami Shraddhanand of Arya Samaj at Calcutta in 1911. His novice study prompted Swami Shraddhanand to formulate Shuddhi and Sangathan. It was a project to bring back converted Hindus into their native Hindu fold. The rest is history!

In recent years, in analyzing India's religious demography, the authors [all non-demographers] of the book - Religious Demography of India”, Joshi et al., have explicitly stated that there is much Indian Religionists – a term used as an euphemism for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains - need to fear. They claimed, "The proportion of Indian Religionists in the population of India has declined by 11 percentage points during the period of 110 years ... Indian Religionists formed 79.32 per cent of the population in 1881 and 68.03 per cent in 1991 ... If the trend ... continues, then the proportion of Indian Religionists in India is likely to fall below 50 per cent early in the latter half of the 21st century." As can be seen the authors purposively included Pakistan and Bangladesh in their rhetoric. The sly authors don’t tell their readers that for the present Indian Union, the “decline” has been trivial in the last 100 years (e.g., from 86.64 % in 1901 to 85.09 % in 1991). But who wants to do the math when the politically motivated, chauvinist, non-demographers are doing all the hard work for their mesmerized audience!

Since the publication of this Hindu Mein Kamf of sort, touted as a ‘landmark’ work by former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, many Hindu communalists and fanatics of the Hindutva have played the religious card too well to drum up support within the broader Hindu community. They claim, like those authors, that "pocket of high Muslim influence seems to be now developing in the northern border belt covering Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam. And a border pocket of even more intense Christian influence has developed in the north-eastern states". Now the issue has become a national one catapulting many obscure, chauvinist political figures to national roles. It won’t be any surprise when the Hindu fundamentalist BJP (a member of the Sangh Parivar) wins the next national election in India and her one-time tea hawker Narendra Modi (now the chief minister of Gujarat) becomes the Prime Minister.   

As I have noted before, these narrow-minded Hindu fanatics are simply oblivious of the various factors that contribute to demographic changes in a landscape – e.g., the fertility and mortality rates, socio-economic conditions, female literacy, urbanization, family planning and migration. In a 2005 paper, “District Level Fertility Estimates for Hindus and Muslims,” Professor S Irudaya Rajan of Center for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India, provided estimates of crude birth rates (CBR) and total fertility rates (TFR) for Hindus and Muslims for 594 districts of India, and assessed the state and district level differentials across the country. It reconfirms that there is a regional variation in fertility in India, with higher fertility in the north than in the southern and western parts, irrespective of religious affiliation.

 
Professor Rajan’s analysis showed that while the difference is narrow or negligible in south and west India, a significantly higher rate of Muslim fertility is observed in eastern and north-eastern India. The difference in Hindu-Muslim fertility is far higher in states like West Bengal, Assam, the north-eastern states and a few northern states (thus contributing to higher annual growth rate). But in other parts of the country, Muslim fertility is falling in line with Hindu fertility as the difference is narrow both at higher and lower levels of fertility. This sharp differential in fertility among Hindus and Muslims in northern and eastern parts of India can be explained by the female literacy differentials by religion in these states rather than any other social-economic variable. As demographers have found out female education always emerges as a major predictor for fertility differentials. Table 1 depicts the differences in total fertility rate (TFR) and female literacy rates (FLR) among Hindus and Muslim in different states and union territories in India. Interestingly, all those states recording much higher Muslim fertility than that for Hindus have very low female literacy levels among Muslims. The largest differential between Hindu-Muslim female literacy is in Haryana, where female literacy among Muslims is as low as 21.5 % compared to 57.1 % among Hindus.

 
Table 1: The differentials in total fertility rate (TFR) and female literary rates (FLR) between Muslims and Hindus in India (by states and Union territories) in 2001
 

Indian States or Union Territories
TFR-delta
FLR-delta
Jammu & Kashmir
0.5
-24.1
Himachal Pradesh
1.5
-21.1
Punjab
1.2
-24.9
Chandigarh
1.9
-17.9
Uttaranchal
2.2
-21.4
Haryana
3.2
-35.6
Delhi
1.6
-16.3
Rajasthan
0.7
-2.4
Uttar Pradesh
0.7
-5.7
Bihar
0.6
-1.9
Sikkim
1.7
-8.5
Arunachal Pradesh
1.6
-7.5
Nagaland
2.6
-32.3
Manipur
2
-23.1
Mizoram
1.9
-23.8
Tripura
1.7
-15.9
Meghalaya
2.2
-25.1
Assam
2.3
-20.9
West Bengal
1.9
-13.3
Jharkhand
1.1
3.5
Orissa
0.7
11.7
Chhattisgarh
-0.4
23.2
Madhya Pradesh
-0.1
11.1
Gujarat
0.2
6.8
Daman & Diu
-0.6
8
Dadra & Nagar Haveli
-0.3
34.2
Maharashtra
0.8
4.9
Andhra Pradesh
0.5
9.9
Karnataka
0.9
7.7
Goa
1.3
-4.2
Lakshadweep
1.7
-16
Kerala
1.1
-1.2
Tamil Nadu
0.3
13.8
Pondicherry
0.1
10.1
Andaman & Nicobar
-0.5
11.7

 

I have analyzed the data statistically and found that there is a strong correlation between the differentials in TFR and FLR:

TFR-delta = 0.823 - 0.0484 FLR-delta

with a R-sq(adj) of 73.1%. However, if the data for Jammu and Kashmir, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Andaman & Nicobar, and Punjab (with high residual errors) are discarded from the analysis, the correlation is much improved with a R-sq(adj) of 88.1%. The corresponding regression equation then becomes:

TFR-delta = 0.908 - 0.0532 FLR-delta.

 
The data strongly corroborate the well-known fact that the two parameters have inverse relationship, i.e., when female literacy rate goes up, the total fertility rate goes down.

Prof. Rajan’s study also reconfirms regional variation in fertility in India: higher fertility in the north compared to the southern and western parts of India, which is true irrespective of religious affiliation. For instance, the illiterate women in Kerala have fewer children compared to illiterate women in Madhya Pradesh or anywhere else in India

As shown in Table 2, in south and east India, the annual growth rate has declined among Muslims and Hindus alike and in states with high fertility both the religious groups show a similar phenomenon. During the 1991-2001 decade, the Hindu growth rate in north-west showed an increase; this was also true for Muslims in the north-east and west.

 
Table 2: % Annual growth rate amongst Hindus and Muslims by region in India in various decades (from 1951 to 2001)

 

Region
1951-61
1961-71
1971-81
1981-91
1991-2001
Hindus
South
1.52
1.94
1.97
1.77
1.22
Hindus
North-east
3.22
3.2
2.12
1.78
1.3
Hindus
East
2.09
2.02
1.98
1.95
1.71
Hindus
West
1.89
2.62
2.25
2.23
2
Hindus
North-west
1.87
1.01
2.43
2.23
2.32
Hindus
India
1.87
1.93
2.16
2.04
1.82
Muslims
South
1.66
2.93
2.51
2.37
1.66
Muslims
North-east
3.39
2.21
3.29
2.53
2.63
Muslims
East
2.95
2.68
2.61
2.9
2.67
Muslims
West
2.12
3.58
2.99
2.64
2.86
Muslims
North-west
3.71
2.24
2.67
3.24
2.86
Muslims
India
2.82
2.69
2.7
2.84
2.57

 

[Note that the latest 2011 Indian census data do not provide religion-based information. As such, much of the analysis and discussion that follows below is based on previous census data.]

When it comes to fertility rate, socio-economic condition does matter. This well-known fact is reflected in the Indian census data. Even in the demographically developed state of Kerala (which has the highest literacy rate – 94% in India), the population growth rates of Hindu brahmins are much lower than that of Hindu nairs, followed by Hindu ezhavas. Similarly among Christians, Syrian Christians’ growth rates are lower than that of Latin Christians. In the post-partition early decades Kerala’s population growth rate was not only high (above 2% per annum) by its own standards, but also higher than India’s growth rates several decades after independence. During the 1991-2001 decade Kerala’s growth rate was just 0.9 % per annum as against India’s 1.9. Similarly, between 1981-91 and 1991-2001, the Muslim growth rate in India has shown a decrease from 3.2 % per annum to 2.9 % per annum.

 

In the pre- and early British era of colonization of India, Muslims, in general, who were economically more prosperous than other religious groups, had a lower growth rate. As their socio-economic condition deteriorated during the British colonial era and after Indian independence, the growth rate increased. Professor Rajan’s demographic study (see Table 3) also shows that at the beginning of the 20th century, Muslim growth rates were slightly lower than that for Hindus. Since then, Muslims in India registered higher growth rates in comparison to Hindus as well as the total population right through the last 100 years. Even during the influenza decade of 1911-21, India’s growth rate was zero and the Hindus registered a negative growth rate. Muslims registered a minimal growth of just 0.1 % per annum. The defining moment of both the Hindu and Muslim population growth rate was after independence. Muslims registered a negative growth rate of 1.8 % per annum in 1941-1951 resulting from the large-scale movement of people from India to Pakistan. On the other hand, Hindus registered the highest growth rate of close to 2.4 %. As the table 3 below shows, the growth rates of Hindus and Muslims in the post-independence decades, Hindu population growth hovered between 2.0-2.2 % per annum whereas Muslims growth was between 2.7-2.8 %. In other words, both groups grew by more than 2 % per annum during 1961-1991.

 
Table 3: % Annual growth rate in India amongst various religious groups (1901-2001)
Decade
Total
Hindus
Muslims
Christians
Sikhs
Jains
Buddhists
Others
1901-11
0.6
0.5
0.3
2.6
2.6
-0.8
1.5
1.2
1911-21
0
-0.1
0.1
1.9
0.6
-0.6
0.7
-0.6
1921-31
1
1
1.4
2.9
2.8
0.7
1.3
-0.5
1931-41
1.1
0.6
1.7
0.4
2.8
1.3
-3.5
7.5
1941-51
1.5
2.4
-1.8
3.7
4.4
1.5
4.1
-11.7
1951-61
2
1.9
2.8
2.5
2.3
2.3
29
-11.1
1961-71
2.2
2.1
2.7
2.8
2.8
2.5
1.5
1.5
1971-81
2.2
2.2
2.7
2.1
2.3
2.1
2.1
0
1981-91
2.1
2
2.8
1.2
2.3
0.4
3
4.9
1991-2001
1.9
1.82
2.57
2
1.6
2.3
2.1
6.6

 
In the post partition era, Muslims as a whole appear to have 0.75 % higher annual growth rate than majority Hindus (e.g., 2.57% compared to 1.82% in 1991-2001). And unless their socio-economic conditions improve significantly with jobs and education, esp. amongst the Muslim females, this trend may continue for a foreseeable future.


I share below the size of the population in 15 Indian states (representing approx. 90% of the population) from 1951 to 2011.

Indian State
1951
1961
1971
1981
1991
2001
2011
West Bengal
26299980
34926279
44312011
54580647
68077965
80176197
91,276,115
Andhra Pradesh
31095259
35983447
43502708
53551026
66508008
76210007
84,580,777
Assam
8028856
10837329
14625152
18041248
22414322
26655528
31,205,576
Bihar
37782271
46447457
56353369
69914734
64530554
82998509
104,099,452
Gujarat
16262657
20633350
26697475
34085799
41309582
50671017
60,439,692
Haryana
5673614
7590524
10036431
12922119
16463648
21144564
25,351,462
Karnataka
19401956
23586772
29299014
37135714
44977201
52850562
61,095,297
Kerala
13559118
16903715
21347375
25453680
29098518
31841374
33,406,061
Madhya Pradesh
26071637
32372408
41654119
52178844
48566242
60348023
72,626,809
Maharashtra
32002564
39553718
50412235
62782818
78937187
96878627
112,374,333
Orissa
14645946
17548846
21944615
26370271
31659736
36804660
41,974,218
Punjab
9160500
11135069
13551060
16788915
20281969
24358999
27,743,338
Rajasthan
15970774
20155602
25765806
34261862
44005990
56507188
68,548,437
Tamil Nadu
30119047
33686953
41199168
48408077
55858946
62405679
72,147,030
Uttar Pradesh
63219655
73754573
88341521
110862512
132061653
166197921
199,812,341

 

The percentage of majority Hindus and minority Muslims living in these 15 Indian states, as per 2001 Indian census, is shown below.

Indian State
Muslim-2001
% Muslim
Hindu-2001
% Hindu
West Bengal
20240543
25.2%
58104835
72.5%
Andhra Pradesh
6986856
9.2%
67836651
89.0%
Assam
8240611
30.9%
17296455
64.9%
Bihar
13722048
16.5%
69076919
83.2%
Gujarat
4592854
9.1%
45143074
89.1%
Haryana
1222916
5.8%
18655925
88.2%
Karnataka
6463127
12.2%
44321279
83.9%
Kerala
7863842
24.7%
17883449
56.2%
Madhya Pradesh
3841449
6.4%
55004675
91.1%
Maharashtra
10270485
10.6%
77859385
80.4%
Orissa
761985
2.1%
34726129
94.4%
Punjab
382045
1.6%
8997942
36.9%
Rajasthan
4788227
8.5%
50151452
88.8%
Tamil Nadu
3470647
5.6%
54985079
88.1%
Uttar Pradesh
30740158
18.5%
133979263
80.6%
Total
   123,587,793
13.3%
   754,022,512
81.4%

 

As can be seen, in the 2001 census, only the five bigger states (Uttar Pradesh – 18.5 %, Bihar – 16.5 %, Assam – 30.9 %, Kerala – 24.7 % and West Bengal – 25.2 %), two smaller states (Jammu and Kashmir – 67 % and Jharkland – 13.8 %; not shown in the table above) and one union territory (Lakshadweep – 95.5 %; not shown in the table above) had a proportion of Muslims above the national average of 13.3 %. Professor Rajan’s study showed that among the above eight states/union territories, five of them reported their Muslim growth rates as below the national growth rate of 2.57 %; in fact, two states reported below the national average of 2.03 %.

 
The Table below shows the % annual growth rate in 15 major Indian states from 1951 to 2011.

Indian State
1951
2011
% annual growth (1951-2011)
% annual growth (2001-2011)
West Bengal
            26,299,980
            91,276,115
2.1%
1.3%
Andhra Pradesh
            31,095,259
            84,580,777
1.7%
1.0%
Assam
              8,028,856
            31,205,576
2.3%
1.6%
Bihar
            37,782,271
           104,099,452
1.7%
2.3%
Gujarat
            16,262,657
            60,439,692
2.2%
1.8%
Haryana
              5,673,614
            25,351,462
2.5%
1.8%
Karnataka
            19,401,956
            61,095,297
1.9%
1.5%
Kerala
            13,559,118
            33,406,061
1.5%
0.5%
Madhya Pradesh
            26,071,637
            72,626,809
1.7%
1.9%
Maharashtra
            32,002,564
           112,374,333
2.1%
1.5%
Orissa
            14,645,946
            41,974,218
1.8%
1.3%
Punjab
              9,160,500
            27,743,338
1.9%
1.3%
Rajasthan
            15,970,774
            68,548,437
2.5%
2.0%
Tamil Nadu
            30,119,047
            72,147,030
1.5%
1.5%
Uttar Pradesh
            63,219,655
           199,812,341
1.9%
1.9%
Total in 15 states
          349,293,834
        1,086,680,938
1.9%
1.6%
Overall population
 
        1,210,193,422
 
1.6%

 

The census data of 2011 show that Bangladesh’s neighboring state West Bengal had an overall annual growth rate that was lower than the national average of 1.6%, and even the data for the state of Assam is at par with the national average. As such, the Hindutvadi claims about Bangladeshi Muslims inflating the growth rate appear to be just hogwash and unsubstantial.

In the context of India, as rightly noted by Prof. Rajan, despite higher growth rates amongst Muslims, “the population projections by religion indicates that Muslims will add fewer people in absolute numbers, compared to Hindus in the next 50 years, owing to their smaller population base.”

So, why all this hocus pocus around ‘endangered’ Hindu community, not just in ‘Islamic’ Bangladesh but also in ‘mother’ India? Who gains from such exaggerated, unsubstantiated claims of groups like HRCBM – a pro-Indian Hindu advocacy group that has hitherto collaborated with anti-Bangladesh and anti-Muslim hate groups like Hindu Samhati, Mukta-mona and CRIBR? What are they aiming for – further polarization of the people along religious lines? Are they aiming for Indian hegemony in territories lost during the Partition of India? Rather than making mountains out of moles why not they work towards breaking the wall of monumental hatred that they espouse against non-Hindus? Why not they create opportunities for education and job amongst the downtrodden so that with upward mobility the latter would have less fertility rate, and therefore, unable to change the very demography that they are so mindful of protecting?

Contrary to the claims made by HRCBM, Bangladeshi Hindus (who comprise less than 9% of the population) are more prosperous than fellow Muslims and are well placed in every sector in spite of the fact that many have chosen to settle overseas. That preference for the educated folks to live in more prosperous countries is nothing new and has been the trend throughout history. The cultural ties and religious affiliation with vast majority of Hindus living next door in India have also gravitated some Bangladeshi Hindus to retiring in India while they made money inside Bangladesh. Such traits are in human DNA. It is no surprise, therefore, that their proportion inside Bangladesh has shrunk comparatively.

The influx of persecuted Muslims from India and Burma into Bangladesh, on the other hand, has resulted in widening this proportion between Hindus and Muslims. Not to be ignored in this context, as shown above, is the fact that population growth rate amongst poor Muslims have been greater than more prosperous Hindus. So, when Hindu activists like Trivedi complain that their proportion has been on the decline since 1941, it is no brainer to understand the root causes.

It is utterly irresponsible and disingenuous of such activists to link the gap with so-called persecution and discrimination of Hindus. Such false claims play into the hands of Hindu extremists inside India who exploit those to execute their fascist plan of depopulating Muslims out of India, and create fertile grounds for xenophobia, intolerance and bigotry.

As noted by Swapan Dasgupta in India Today, the British were very zealous with their demographic studies in India – all to maximize the ‘divide and rule’ policy. Before 1881, very few Indians knew about the religious divide so carefully crafted by the new imperial masters. The realization that Muslims made up a majority in undivided Bengal gave a stimulus to cultural separatism. Bengali Hindus subsequently did not want to remain a minority in Joint Bengal and created the very conditions that helped the creation of Pakistan via Partition of India in 1947.

If the Hindus of today want to repeat the same mistakes of yesteryears, no Modi and no Tapan Ghosh can save India’s fragmentation.

(Concluded)