A radical Hindu political party in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, and a key ally of the country's ruling party, is encouraging Hindus to have more children because of fears of a Muslim population explosion.
The militant Shiv Sena party announced that it had identified 50 Hindu couples with five or more children in the parliamentary constituency of the Indian prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
"We will honor these couples at a special function next month by conferring the title `Awakened Hindu Family,'" said the Shiv Sena's state chief, Vijay Tiwari. Couples with more than 10 children would be given gifts of gold or silver.
The call runs counter to the Indian government's policy of controlling the country's burgeoning population by promoting family planning. The "awakening" that Shiv Sena wants to bring about stems from the belief that India's Muslim population, already estimated to be about 140 million, will overtake the Hindu, even though Hindus account for 85 percent of India's population, now more than a billion.
Demographic experts assert that high birth rates are related to illiteracy and poverty, and have nothing to do with religious beliefs.
Radical Hindu leaders claim the percentage of Muslims has been rising. Their propaganda finds a response among Hindus who resent the Muslims' separate civil law permitting men four wives -- though most Muslims are too poor to practise polygamy, and educated Muslims reject the idea.
"Even Hindus who do not support parties like the Shiv Sena or the ruling Bharatiya Janata party [BJP] believe that most Muslims have four wives and lots of children," said Dipankar Gupta, a sociologist.
The issue even figured in the Gujarat state assembly elections last year, with the BJP's chief minister, Narendra Modi, mocking Muslim families for their "25 children each."
Now the BJP's political ally, the Shiv Sena, hopes for mileage in the spectre of the "Muslim population bomb."
Tiwari said: "When the Muslims become 30 percent of the population, democracy and peace will disappear from India. To maintain the social balance, and to save the nation, we are now asking Hindu couples to have a minimum of four children each."
Tiwari claimed there had been a positive response from Hindus in Uttar Pradesh. But analysts are doubtful.
"The Shiv Sena's appeal has always been its focus on pragmatic issues, such as jobs for its supporters," said Gupta. "Such a madcap campaign could rebound on the party."
CLOSELY TRACKED: A US officer said that the warplanes were watched as they flew from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya and were photographed multiple times The US Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s long-term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies. US Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director of intelligence, said that the US tracked the MiG-29s and Su-24 fighter bombers flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army, which has been waging an
‘SACRIFICED’: Hu Weifeng became the sixth doctor to die from COVID-19 at Wuhan Central Hospital, where calls to raise the alarm over the virus were suppressed The death of a Chinese doctor at Wuhan’s “whistle-blower hospital” has prompted a wave of anger at hospital authorities for not protecting front-line health workers in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Hu Weifeng (胡衛鋒), 42, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital where the whistle-blower ophthalmologist Li Wenliang (李文亮) worked, died of the virus on Tuesday after a four-month battle. Hu is the sixth doctor from his hospital killed by the virus. Another doctor who spoke out, Ai Fen (艾芬), said that authorities told hospital staff not to wear protective gear so as not to cause panic and reprimanded her for “harming
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the COVID-19 lockdown, but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond. While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife. There are estimated to be about
Indonesian officials are forcing people who break social distancing rules to recite Koran verses, stay in “haunted” houses and submit to public shaming on social media as the country battles to contain surging novel coronavirus infections. The Southeast Asian archipelago began deploying about 340,000 troops across two dozen cities to oversee enforcement of measures aimed at halting transmission of the disease, such as wearing masks in public. However, provincial leaders are buttressing these efforts with their own zealous campaigns to fight the coronavirus. Police in western Bengkulu Province have assembled a 40-person squad to find lockdown scofflaws and force them to wear