RSS-Linked Magazine Echoes Oppn Concern On Delimitation, Regional Imbalance - Vibes Of India

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RSS-Linked Magazine Echoes Oppn Concern On Delimitation, Regional Imbalance

| Updated: July 10, 2024 11:55

Echoing the concerns of Opposition parties about delimitation raised recently in Parliament, Prafulla Ketkar, editor of RSS-linked magazine Organiser writes in an editorial that, “Regional imbalance is another critical dimension that will impact the delimitation process of the Parliamentary Constituencies in the future. The States from the West and South are doing relatively better regarding population control measures and, therefore, fear losing a few seats in Parliament if the base population is changed after the census.”

The editorial has flagged a “population imbalance” due to a “rising Muslim population” against those of Hindus. It has also pointed towards the fact that lower birth rates place western and southern states at a “disadvantage” during delimitation.

With delimitation expected to occur during Narendra Modi’s third term, the weekly’s underlining of the southern “disadvantage” is significant as redrawing electoral boundaries is likely to help the BJP, which wins most of its seats in north India.

Ketkar argues that the country needs a policy to ensure that population growth does not disproportionately impact any religious community or region, which, he says, “can lead to socio-economic disparities and political conflicts”.

Opposition parties, particularly those which do well in the south, feel a delimitation based on population could skew elections in favour of the parties that do well in the north. Last September, during the parliamentary debate on the Women’s Reservation Bill — its implementation is linked to the delimitation process — the DMK expressed serious concern about this.

DMK MP Kanimozhi read out a statement from Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin that said, “…if delimitation is going to be on population census, it will deprive and reduce the representation of the south Indian states.” Supporting Kanimozhi, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra said, “According to data, we will have zero per cent increase of seats for Kerala, only 26% for Tamil Nadu, but a whopping 79% for both MP and UP.”

Elaborating on “religious and regional imbalances”, Ketkar writes, “Despite stabilising the population at the national level, it is not the same in all religions and regions. There is a significant Muslim population growth in certain areas, especially bordering districts. … In a democracy, when numbers are critical regarding representation and demography decides the destiny, we must be even more cautious of this trend.”

While the Census has recorded a higher birth rate among Muslims compared to Hindus, the birth rates of the two communities are said to be progressively converging. The decline in the decadal growth rate of Muslims between 1991 and 2011 has been recorded to be higher than Hindus. According to National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data, Muslims’ fertility rate has seen the sharpest decline among all religious communities in the past two decades: from 4.4 in NFHS 1 (1992-’93) to 2.3 in NFHS 5 (2019-’21).

Population control and a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) are among the key ideological projects of the Sangh that remain unfulfilled. With the BJP coming to power with reduced numbers in the Lok Sabha, a national law on UCC looks more difficult than ever, given that its key allies Janata Dal (United) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) have expressed reservation about it. In 2019, nominated Rajya Sabha MP Rakesh Sinha, whose term is set to end this month, introduced a Private Member’s Bill seeking to enforce a two-child norm by giving incentives for those adopting the small family practice and penalties for those contravening it.

“Demographic change, more than any other security threat, has the potential to destabilise the country. The past betrayal by radical Islamist forces, who looted and tried to destroy the Bharatiya culture, serves as a stark reminder of the risks we face,” reads the article.

Another article claims that an increasing number of Indians are being affected by Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) and it was because of an “international conspiracy” to keep India’s population low to deny it the demographic dividend.

The editorial and cover story come weeks before the first Budget Session of the 18th Lok Sabha gets underway on July 22. In the interim Budget speech in February, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced plans to set up a high-powered committee to consider the challenges posed by fast population growth and demographic changes. The committee has not yet been formed.

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