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1. Population Explosion in West Bengal: A Survey

 

1. Population Explosion in
West Bengal: A Survey
(A Study by South Asia Research Society, Calcutta)

On account of the Partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, refugees moved from Pakistan, without much interruption, to various parts of India, especially to West Bengal, till 1971, when political boundaries in South Asia were redrawn. Even after the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent country in 1971, however, the march of refugees to West Bengal appeared to be ceaseless. Nevertheless, there is one great difference in the patterns of migration before and after 1971. In the days of Pakistan, nearly all refugees coming to West Bengal were members of the minority communities in East Bengal (East Pakistan), viz. Buddhists, Christians and Hindus. In the Bangladesh era, however, in addition to the forced migration of members of minority community (the overwhelming majority being Hindus) to West Bengal, there has been largescale voluntary infiltration of Bangladeshi Muslims (forming the majority community in that country) to West Bengal and other parts of India. Certainly, the Government of India and the Government of West Bengal are not unaware of this grim phenomenon. Occasionally, the Home Minister of the Government of India and the Chief Minister of West Bengal have expressed serious concern over this problem. This brief survey - its brevity attributable to the barrier of needless secrecy against the free flow of census data (unexpected in a democratic country like India) - aims at unraveling the mystery of population explosion in a progressive state like West Bengal, as also at arousing the consciousness of the public about the factor of migration /infiltration underlying this explosion, which cannot but pose a mounting challenge to vital national interests.

Table 1.1: Population in West Bengal 1941-91

 
Year
Population
(100,000)
Increase of population in the previous decade (100,000)
Percentage rate of growth in the current decade
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
1941
232
43
22.9
1951
263
31
13.2
1961
349
86
32.8
1971
443
94
26.9
1981
546
103
23.2
1991
680
134
24.6

Source: Statistical Abstract, West Bengal, 1978-89 (Combined Issue), Bureau of Applied Economics and Statistics.

In accordance with estimates prepared by the Government of West Bengal, 44.5 lakhs of refugees came from East Bengal (East Pakistan) to West Bengal during 1946-1970. The 1981 Census contained an important clue to the persistence of migration / infiltration to West Bengal. The population growth rate declined from 26.9% in 1961-71 to 23.2% in 1971-81. Yet, the 1981 Census recorded a population of 4,67,000 in excess of the population derived from differences in birth /death rates. If one excluded these 4,67,000 persons - who obviously moved to West Bengal from other regions inside/outside India - the population growth rate in 1971-81 would have declined from 23.2% to 22.1%. Actually, in West Bengal, on account of an expansion of education and family planning programmes, as also of a pronounced rise in social consciousness, the population growth rate during 1981-91 should have fallen below 22%, and demographic experts of the Government of India perceptively forecast the rate of 20.79% for this period. Evidently, this forecast was upset by migration /infiltration from Bangladesh. For, the 1991 Census puts the decadal growth rate at 24.55%, i.e. higher than that in 1971-81. Where and how could this unexpected rate of population growth take place?

Natural Population Increase in 1981-91:

Every year the Registrar General of India conducts sample surveys, and estimates the annual rates of birth and death. Table 1.2 communicates these rates for West Bengal during 1981-90.

Table 1.2: Birth and Death Rates in West Bengal 1981-90
 

Year
Birth
Death
Natural increase of per thousand Population per Year
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4) = (2) - (3)
1981
32.2
11.0
22.2
1982
32.3
10.4
21.9
1983
32.0
10.3
21.7
1984
30.4
10.7
19.7
1985
29.4
9.6
19.8
1986
29.7
8.8
20.9
1987
30.7
8.8
21.9
1988
28.1
8.3
19.8
1989
27.2
8.8
18.4
1990
27.3
8.1
19.2

Source: Sample Registration Survey Reports by the Registrar General of India.

Column 4 of Table 1.2 demonstrates that the estimated natural population increase in West Bengal during 1981-91 stands at 21.9%. [This estimate is prepared on the basis of natural population increase in course of a decade, i.e. r1 r2 �. r10, and in accordance with the formula, viz R = (1+ r1) (1+r2) (1+r3) �. (1+r10) - 1.] The estimate of the expert committee on population growth rate was 1.1% below 21.9%, i.e. the rate of natural increase during 1981-91. Nevertheless, the actual population growth rate exceeded the rate of natural population increase by 2.7%, and stood at 24.6% during 1981-91. This increase can largely be accounted for by the influx of people from Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and other regions of India. Thus, the number of migrants / infiltrators to West Bengal during 1981-91 can be calculated at 14,74,000, i.e. 11% of the total population increase of 1,34,00,000. The actual number of outsiders in West Bengal is likely to be much higher, because a very large number of them have presumably escaped detection by Census personnel.

It has been suggested that, during 1971-81 and 1981-91, West Bengal has accommodated 2 million outsiders.  Actually, this number should be much larger, because, from Bangladesh alone, 2.95 million Bengali-speaking Hindus have entered into India (mainly West Bengal) during 1974-1991. As Mohiuddin Ahmed, a renowned journalist of Bangladesh, writes: �Thus, we encounter a scenario of �missing Hindu population� in the successive census periods. The extent of this missing population was about 1.22 million during the period of 1974-1981, and about 1.73 million during the last intercensual period 1981-91. As many as 475 Hindus are �disappearing� every day from the soil of Bangladesh on an average since 1974. How this phenomenon would be interpreted in terms of demography? The relevant parameter is obviously �migration� which provides a clue to the missing link.� The following Table illustrates the rise and fall of Hindu and Muslim population in the last fifty year in Bangladesh.

Table 1.3

Census Year
Muslims (%)
Hindus(%)
(1)
(2)
(3)
1941
70.3
28.0
1951
76.9
22.8
1961
80.4
18.5
1974
85.4
13.5
1981
86.6
12.1
1991
88.3
10.5

Source: Bangladesh Population Census in 1981 and 91.

It is noteworthy that, of the nearly ten million Hindu refugees leaving East Pakistan for India in course of the 1971 liberation struggle, a large number did not return to Bangladesh. Moreover, of those who returned, a big number, failing to recover movable / immovable properties looted / misappropriated during 1971, came back to India in one or two years. These refugees have not been taken into account by the Bangladesh Census reports. Their number soars above 3 million.

After the successful conclusion of the Bangladesh liberation struggle in 1971, only 2,00,000 out of 1 million stranded non-Bengalis (usually called Biharis) in Bangladesh, could obtain help from International Red Cross Society in order to move over to Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan trumped up a variety of excuses to avoid the repatriation of the other 8,00,000 Biharis, who were compelled to stay on in Bangladesh. As of late 1994 - i.e. after the lapse of 23 years since 1971 - only 2,50,000 Biharis were found to be living amidst subhuman conditions at 66 camps in Bangladesh. Actually, in terms of a natural population increase, the 8,00,000 Biharis should have swelled to more than 1.3 million by 1994. To the question of where have the more than 1 million Biharis vanished from Bangladesh since 1971, the obvious answer is, they have surreptitiously moved into their ancestral places in India (notably in Bihar), and settled down. In one of his recent election utterances, Laloo Prasad Yadav, the Chief Minister of Bihar, has confessed to granting ration cards and voting rights to 100,000 Biharis from Bangladesh. It may be added that some Governments have loudly complained about infiltration of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis into such important cities as Bombay and New Delhi.

In addition, for the 1981-91 period, Bangladesh Census authorities detect the somewhat unique phenomenon of �missing population�, and estimates the number at 8 million. As already indicated, 1.73 million Hindus are to be included in the figure of 8 million. It is, therefore, entirely plausible that the remainder of 8 million, i.e. 6.27 million Muslims, have infiltrated into various parts of India, notably West Bengal. The Government of Bangladesh naturally observes silence on this vital issue, this silence being occasionally broken by a hackneyed repetition of the announcement that there are no Bangladeshis in India.

It is, therefore, pertinent to affirm that 6 million Hindus have left Bangladesh for India during 1971-1991, and not less than 6 million Bangladeshi Muslims have infiltrated into India during 1981-1991. To this should be added 1 million stranded Biharis in Bangladesh moving to India. Since the extent of Muslim infiltration during 1971-1981 awaits appraisal, it is fair to conclude that at least - at least - 13-14 million migrants/infiltrators have crossed over from Bangladesh to India from 1971 to 1991. A large number of these outsiders have taken shelter in various parts of West Bengal, including the sensitive border areas. In order to facilitate a clear comprehension of this phenomenon, we provide below a Table recording the district wise population growth rate in West Bengal as also the categorisation of this population by religion. It is not logical to explain this growth by reference to migration from other states in India to West Bengal. For, in course of the 1981-1991 decade, West Bengal has witnessed a decrease, rather than increase, of employment in the organised sector. As to migrants from Bhutan and Nepal, they mostly reside in the districts of Coochbehar, Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri, whereas their number is too insignificant in comparison to the number of migrants from Bangladesh.

Table 1.4
List of comparative percentage of religion-wise population figures
based on 1981 and 1991 Census in West Bengal and its districts.
 

   
1981
1991
Net
Increase (%)
West Bengal Total population
5,45,80,647
6,80,77,965
 
  Hindu
4,20,07,159
5,08,50,000
88,42,841
   
(76.96)
(74.69)
(21.05)
  Muslim
1,17,43,209
1,60,50,000
43,06,791
   
(21.51)
(23.57)
(36.67)
Cooch Behar Total population
17,71,643
21,71,14
 
  Hindu
13,99,844
16,59,000
2,59,156
   
(79.01)
(76.41)
(18.51)
  Muslim
3,68,176
5,06,000
1,37,824
   
(20,78) 
(23.30)
(37.43)
Jalpaiguri Total population  
22,14,871
28,02,543
  Hindu
19,38,062
23,75,000
4,36,938
   
(87.50)
(84.42)
(22.54)
  Muslim
1,93,658
2,80,000
86,342
   
(8.75)
(10.0)
(44.58)
Darjeeling Total population  
10,24,269
12,99,919
  Hindu
8,13,625
10,13,000
1,99,375
   
(79.44)
(77.98)
(24.50)
  Muslim
0,37,299
0.59,000
 21,701
   
(3.64)
(4.53)
(58.18)
West Dinajpur Total population 
24,04,947
31,27,653
 
  Hindu
15,21,416
19,55,000
4,33,584
   
(63.26)
(62.51)
(28.49)
  Muslim
8,60,797
11,49,000
2,88,203
   
(35.79)
(36.74)
(33.48)
Maldah Total population
20,31,871
26,37,032
 
  Hindu
11,07,192
13,77,000
2,69,808
   
(54.49)
(52.21)
(24.36)
Murshidabad Total population
36,97,552
47,40,149
 
  Hindu
15,21,448
18,19,000
2,97,552
   
(41.15)
(38.37)
(19.55)
  Muslim
21,69,121
29,10,000
7,40,879
   
(58.67)
(61.39)
(34.15)
Nadia Total population
29,64,253
38,52,097
 
  Hindu
22,29,177
28.63,000
6,33,823
   
(75.20)
(74.32)
(28.43)
  Muslim
7,13,776
9,60,000
2,46,224
   
(24.08)
(24.92)
(34.49)
24-Parganas Total Population
1,07,39,439
1,29,96,911
 
  Hindu
81,08,070
94,45,000
13,37,000
   
(75.50)
(72.67)
(16.49)
  Muslim
25,63,751
34,65,000
9,01,249
   
(23.87)
(26.66)
(35.15)
(A) North 24-Parganas Total population  
72,81,881
 
  Hindu  
54,95,000
 
     
(75.47)
 
  Muslim  
17,55,000
 
     
(24.10)
 
(B) South 24-Parganas Total population  
57,15,030
 
  Hindu  
39,50,000
 
     
(69.11)
 
  Muslim  
17,10,000
 
     
(29.92)
 
Calcutta Total population
33,05,006
43,99,819
 
  Hindu
27,06,511
35,40,000
8,33,469
   
(81.89)
(80.47)
(30.79)
  Muslim
5,06,942
7,79,000
2,72,508
   
(15.34)
(17.70)
(53.67)
Howrah Total population
29,66,861
37,29,644
 
  Hindu
23,58,785
28,85,000
5,26,215
   
(79.50)
(77.36)
(22.30)
  Muslim
5,98,448
8,28,000
2,29,552
   
(20.17)
(22.20)
(38.35)
Hooghly Total population
35,57,306
43,55,230
 
  Hindu
30,56,143
36.95,000
6,38,856
   
(85.91)
(84.84)
(20.90)
  Muslim
4,89,494
6,32,000
1,42,506
   
(13.76)
(14.51)
(29.11)
Midnapore Total population
67,42,796
83,31,912
 
  Hindu
60,37,882
72,30,000
11,92,118
   
(89.55) 
(86.78)
(19.74)
  Muslim
5,86,587
8,98,000
3,11,413
   
(8.70)
(10.77)
(53.08)
Bankura Total population
23,74,815
28,05,065
 
  Hindu
21,34,153
 24,40,000
3,05,847
   
(89.87)
(86.98)
(14.33)
  Muslim
1,34,085
1,86,000
51,915
   
(5.65)
(6.63)
(38.71)
Purulia Total population
18,53,801
22,24,577
 
  Hindu
16,98,530
20,20,000
3,21,470
   
(91.63)
(90.82)
(18.93)
  Muslim
1,01,044
1,33,000
31,956
   
(5.45)
(5.97)
(31.62)
Burdwan Total population
48,35,388
60,50,605
 
  Hindu
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Time for Stock Taking - Whither Sangh Parivar?

Sita Ram Goel
Chapters
Introduction
1. A Call for an Intellectual (Bauddhika) Kshatriya
2. Ideological Defence of Hindu Society
1. G.V. Ashtekar
2. Professor G.C. Asnani
3. Deep Chandra Awasthi
4. P. N. Awasthi
5. S. K. Balasubramanian
6. Abhas Chatterjee
7. G.C. Chaudhary
8. S. K. Dalvi
9. Ashoke Dasgupta
10. Jitendra D. Desai
11. Nachiketa Dogra
12.  Adwayanand R. Galatge
13. K. B. Ganapathy
14. Padmashri Shalil Ghosh
15. Bhagwati Prasad Goenka
16. Shiv Goud
17. S. C. Gupta
18. B.L. Jaju
19. H.C. Joshi
20.  Dr. S.D. Kulkarni
21.  S.D. Laghate
22.  Professor K. Lakshminarayana
23. Professor K.S. Lal
24. Professor R. R. Mangasuli
25. T. G. Mohandas
26.  Professor S. G. Mujumdar
27.  P. R. K. Naidu
28.  S. Omkar
29. Virendra V. Parekh
30. Hem Raj Prabhakar
31. Baljit Rai
32. Dr. H. Ramarao
33. B.K. Rao
34. (Mrs) Veda Sampath
35. Smt.  M. Sandhya
36. K. Satya Deva Prasad
37. Jagannath Sharma
38. Ajit Singh
39.  Ram Autar Singh
40. Vikram Singh
41. Dr. Vinay Kumar Sinha
42. Shrikant G. Talageri
43. Mrs. Leela Tampi
44. B. K. Verma
45. R. C. Waswani
46. P. S. Yog
47. Brief Responses
1. Sarva Dharma Samabhãva or Sarva Dharma Sambhrama? 
(Unity or Confusion of Religions?)
2. Meaning of Conversions
1. Roll Over, Rushdie
2. Standing Up to Scrutinize Islam
3. Turning away from Mecca
4. Islam is religious fascism
5. Courageous author puts his life on the line
6. Far more dangerous than Nazism
1. Legacy of hate
2. BJP shifts stand to woo Muslims
3. BJP promoting a �minority-friendly� image for elections
4. BJP looks for Muslim plank to move towards Delhi
5. BJP girds up to appease Muslim
6. Khurana�s go-slow on migrants issue irks hawks
7. Pampering the minority ego
8. BJP to bring out Koran in Sanskrit
9. Vajpayee for diluting stand on �Hindutva�
10. More Space for �namaaz� urged
11. Chhabildas sticks to his guns on minority votes
12. Advani allays minorities fears
13. Secret of BJP�s success
14. Advani woos Indian expatriates in London, assails Govt�s Kashmir policy
15. BJP bid to woo Muslims
16. �How can any Muslim in this country say that he does not respect Ram?�
17. Malhotra�s statement on Ayodhya annoys Chavan
18. BJP bid to win over Muslims
19. RSS wants Muslims for friends
20. Babri or �Barabari�?
21. Bihar BJP�s first-ever Muslim leader emerges
22. J.K. Hindu exiles eulogise Thackeray
23. Secularism is the very colour of our blood: Vajpayee
24. A good augury
25. Muslims in Behrampada voted in a pragmatic way
26. Joshi sparks off row over Religion Bill
27. VHP drops plan to �liberate� Kashi, Mathura
28. Govt seeks revision of order on Naib Imam
29. BJYM�S meet on June 7
30. Vande Mataram �dispute� at BJP Muslim meeting
The Tabligh Movement or Millions of Bearded Militants on the March
1. Population Explosion in West Bengal: A Survey