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5. Hindu Response to the Demographic Challenge

5.1. Some panicky solutions

������ This leaves enough time to do something, assuming that "doing something" is in principle possible and desira�ble.So, what are the options?It hardly makes sense to react to this demograp�hic aggres�sion with a Hindu demograp�hic counter-offensive, as sug�gested by the Puri Shankarach�arya, if at all it were pos�sible to sur�pass the Muslim com�munity in this respect.A similar idea is that birth control should be made compul�sory for all, e.g. by enforcing vasectomy on every father of two child�ren.

������ A sinister alternative routinely imputed to the RSS is the expulsion of all Indian Muslims to Pakis�tan, "the state which was, after all, crea�ted for them".This kind of statement can be heard in speeches by the more extreme wing of the Hindut�va or�ganization, e.g. in the popular audio-taped speeches by Sadhvi Ritambhara propagat�ing this posi�tion, including the slogan: "Muss�alman ke do hi sthan, Pakistan ya qabrastan", "There are only two places for Muslims, Pakistan or the graveyard".

������ This slogan ap�parently dates back to the Partition and its mas�sacr�es, as related to me by eyewitness�es.At that time, the evacuation of Mus�lims from India was, coup�led with an or�dered evacuation of Hindus from Pakis�tan, an entirely serious proposal: all Hindus would vacate Pakistan, and all Muslims would go to Pakistan, leaving only their buried ancestors behind in graveyards in India.The proposal was formulated by Dr. Bhimrao Ambed�kar in his Thoug�hts on Pakistan (1940), and meant to save mil�lions of lives (incl�uding those yet to be lost in future clas�hes resul�ting from Hindu-Muslim co-exis�tence in the respective countries of the subconti�nent, esp. India).Today, howev�er, it could only be done by means of extreme violen�ce, com�parable in inten�sity to (but a hundred times larger than) the full-scale civil war which led to the expulsion of the French in�habitants of Algeria in 1962.

������ A few years ago, Anwar Shaikh, a convert from Islam, offered a polit�ical solution (which he later retracted): "There is only one solution to this hor�rendous problem, that is, disenfra�nchise all Muslims of India.A vote is the right of a patriotic citizen who thinks good of his country and acts accordingly.These people lost their Indian citizenship by divid�ing their own mot�herland to create Paki�stan."Apart from the ques�tionable desirability of such a disenfranc�h�i�se�ment, it is obviously a recipe for civil war, for how long would an ever-larger Muslim community tolerate it?

������ Perhaps Baljit Rai is thinking along the same lines when he offers the undefi�ned concept Hindu Rashtra as a solution: "Hindus, Sikhs, Chri�stians, Parsis, Buddhists and others (Muslims excluded) living in India have no option but to live either in a Hindu Rashtra or Muslim India, i.e. India as Dar-ul-Islam.That is the stark reality."Unfortunately, he fails to explicitate how the declaration of India as a Hindu state would stop the Muslim increase leading to a Muslim majority.Nepal is formally a Hindu Kingdom, yet it fails completely to put up any kind of effective defence against Islamic immigration and Christian proselytizati�on, which are fast destroying the Hindu character of the country.

������ Some desperate Hindus have advocated the reintr�oduction of polyg�amy, e.g. one Ashok Vashisht in Britain pleads for adop�tion of polygamy to counter the effects of Muslim polygam�y.His argument is that Mus�lim polyg�amy, even if it does not yield a higher birth rate by itself, is nevertheless a decis�ive trump card in the Muslim demog�raphic offen�sive, because it limits the availa�bility of women for other Muslim men and thereby forces them to scout around for non-Muslim women.There is somet�hing demea�ning about this kind of competition, and it overes�tima�tes the demogra�phic use of polygamy vastly (polygamous househ�olds are rather few and tend to have a lower number of children per woman).But its main con�ceptual weakness, as also of the other options men�tion�ed, is that it is predi�cated on the accep�tance of the con�tinued Is�lamic iden�tity of the Mus�lims.�����

 

5.2. Reconversion

������ Within the above schemes, the choice seems to be one of simply let�ting the Muslims take over India as soon as they become numero�us enou�gh; or implementing one of the said scenarios of demographic com�petition or ethnic clean�sing.One cannot blame anti-Hindu auth�ors for high�light�ing such ideas as all too similar to certain forms of xenoph�obia and racism elsewhere.But rather than shrieking about the horrible plans being concocted in Hindutva backrooms, we should take a look at an established Hindu alternative for these extreme "solutions".

������ The alternative we mean is not to just shrug it all off and say: but why should anyone object if Muslims become the majority?That is a valid option in theory, but one which is unacceptable to every single Hindu worth his salt.After the treatment which Hindus have received in Muslim-majority states and regions, from legal discrimination in Mala�ysia to ethnic cleansing in Kashmir and genocide in East Pakistan, abor�ting any evolut�ion which would turn India into a Muslim-majority state is an agreed policy goal.

������ The other alternative, the one advocated by a string of ac�tiv�ists from Dayanan�da Saras�wati to Abhas Chatterjee, is that Hindus challenge the Mus�lims' adherence to Islam.In Chatterjee's words: "We consider these alien ideologies to be enemies of our nati�on.The goal is to bring our minori�ties back into our nation after destroying the deadly in�toxica�tion of these ideologies."This was also the soluti�on offered by Swami Shraddhananda to "save the dying race". ��������

������ This reconversion may take the form of reawakening some periph�eral, super�ficia�lly is�lami�zed com�munit�ies to their pre-conver�sion Hindu iden�tity, an approach which has worked in the case of the recon�verted Malk�ana and Meherat Rajputs.But today these semi-Hindu Muslim com�munities are becoming scarce due to Tabligh campaigns and the spread of Madras�sa education, making the Muslims more Muslim.In the larger picture, even the suc�cesses which have been achieved by the reconver�sion movement may not amount to much, for there have also been con�versions of Hindus to Islam.

������ This leads to considerations of a second ap�proach: educ�ati�ng Mus�lims about the less than divine basis of Islam to shake well-groun�ded belie�vers in Islam out of their belie�fs.The whole idea strikes modern Hindus as quite foreign to Hinduism, which has come to be seen as an en�tirely spineless jellyfish, tolerating everything, ap�prov�ing everything.In reality, Hinduism has quite a tradition of debate, including wagers in which the loser agrees to convert to the winner's school of thought; an unusually energetic Hindu may try to revive this tradition.

������ This polemical approach is much more dif�ficult, not least beca�use it necessita�tes a profound refor�mulat�ion of Hin�duism in modern term�s and the shedding of a lot of supers�titi�ous dead�wood which Hinduism has accumulated over the centuries.Hindu society is not in a shape to teach others lessons and tell them what is wrong with them; or so Hin�dus feel.That is exac�tly how Swami Dayananda unders�tood the sit�uat�ion when he conceived the Shuddhi programme together with a reform of Hin�duism: reconversion of Muslims is only pos�sible if it is combined with thorough internal reform, both in the social and the intellectual domains.

������ Demanding as the project of reconversion may be, it is the only civilized solution to the looming threat of a Muslim demographic take-over of India a few decades from now.Of course, Hindus may be lucky and wake up one day to find that Islam has imploded from within, that the Ayatollahs and the Ulema of Al-Azhar and Deoband are suddenly telling their flock that the whole thing was a mistake.The Hindus were that lucky in the case of Communism, which surprised them with its implosion, so it is really possible; nonethel�ess, luck rarely comes to those who count and depend on it for their sur�vival.Time has not run out yet, and if Hindus make a start today, they can comfortably organize the salvation of their country from the rising tide of Islam.

 

5.3. A secular afterthought

������ To a modernist outsider, there is something quaint and unreal about this alter�native: either islamizing or hinduizing India.Perhaps this is na�ve Enlightenment optimism, but I wonder if the present worldwide revival of religi�ous identities can at all persist once the information revolut�ion has had its full civilizational effect.As late as the 1960s, Protes�tants in the Netherlands used to warn each other against the Catholics, who were allegedly planning to take over the country with their high birth rate.The suspicious Protestants were right, for tod�a�y�, Catholics are very sligh�tly more numerous than Protes�tants in the Neth�er�lands, a state created by a Protestant freedom struggle; only, the two communities together hardly command the loyalty of half the popula�tion anymore, for both have lost their adherents at a dramatic rate.Moreover, with the mental secul�arization of even the remaining Catholics, the idea of a Popish Plot to seize power has become surrealistic.

������ Like the Dutch Catholics, Indian Muslims should be en�couraged to outgrow their religious conditioning, and to explore the spiritual sphere afresh.This will automatically bring them in closer touch with their Hindu surroundings, and help them reintegrate into the society from which they were estranged by Islam.