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Hindutva Hypocrisy on Family Planning

Yoginder Sikand

One of the central themes of Hindutva propaganda is the myth that the Muslims refuse to practice family planning as part of an alleged grand conspiracy to swamp the country and convert it into a Muslim-majority state. On the other hand, and this is hardly known, Hindutva ideologues have been consistently exhorting Hindus not to adopt population control measures and to produce as many children as they can. In his book, ‘The RSS Story’, the BJP Vice-President, the late K.R. Malkani, reveals:

‘On the subject of artificial population control, Shri Guruji (Golwalkar, the RSS supremo) felt that there was no need for it’. [1]

Malkani quotes Golwalkar as having further said:

‘I for one think that the world is wide enough to house and feed all the children that are brought into it.’ [2]

Reactionaries readily read conspiracies into any move that might threaten their vested interests, and Golwalkar went on to discover the ubiquitous foreign hand behind family planning. Thus, he declared:

‘Foreign powers are only too eager to see the Indian population cut. They know the strength of numbers and the connection between population and power’. [3]

The same view is repeated in the writings of other Hindutva ideologues, some of them going to ridiculous extents in passionately arguing the case for a higher Hindu population. Thus, for instance, a certain Prof Subramaniam Swamy, writing in the RSS weekly, Organizer (November 13, 1971), came up with the absurd assertion that "population control would have very dangerous consequences for economic growth". To preempt his critics he claimed that ‘The effect of any increase in population could be overcome by increased production for which there was great potential in the country’. He went on further to declare that ‘growth of knowledge was facilitated by large populations’, and asked why ‘if a certain number of people could bring about technological progress, a larger number could not bring about more progress?’ Without adding any substantiation he added, ‘Historical data suggested that the rate of growth of population and the rate of economic growth went together’. Similarly, a certain Kaka Bhushandi, writing in the Organiser (August 21, 1971), under the caption "Birth Control Has Ruined Many Countries", declared that ‘The thesis that birth control is necessary to ensure sufficient food for the existing population in our country is questionable’.

Typically, Hindutva ideologues project birth control as an ‘anti-Hindu’ measure, while at the same time complaining that Muslims refuse to practice it. Thus, the Organiser (May 4, 1974) reported that the Hindu Sammelan held by the Hindu Raksha Dal passed a resolution advising Hindus "not to fall prey to the family planning propaganda of the government." Likewise, a certain M.W. Onkar, writing in the Organiser (November 18, 1990) claimed that ‘the government machinery compels the Hindu population to resort to family planning devices and undergo vasectomy and tubectomy operations’. In a similar vein, another hardcore Hindutva propagandist, a certain Bishen Swaroop Goyal, in a booklet revealingly titled ‘Family Planning is a Conspiracy Against Hindu Society’ [4], claimed that only the well-off among the Hindus practised family planning because of which, he said, ‘Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Parsis think that the Hindus are fools’. [5] He contended that the poor and backward social groups also were not favourably inclined towards population control. Hence, he declared:

‘What is most painfully worrying is that because the nationalist intellectual classes (a euphemism for educated and better-off, and presumably ‘upper’ caste Hindus) are adopting family planning, they shall turn very soon into an even smaller minority’.[6]

Since every issue on the basis of which the Hindutva brigade attempts to mobilise support is given a strong anti-Muslim colour, family planning, too, is projected by them as a pro-Muslim, anti-Hindu conspiracy. Thus, Goyal wrote:

‘The family planning programme has been introduced with the sole purpose of reducing Hindus into a minority. The world knows that wherever in India the Hindus became a minority, those areas were separated from the country. So, is it that family planning is being propagated solely to break-up India and thereby revive Muslim rule?’ [7]

A similar appeal for Hindus to rapidly multiply while at the same time condemning Muslims for allegedly refusing to limit their families appeared some years ago in an writ petition filed by group of ‘upper’ caste Hindus from Gorakhpur in the Supreme Court (No. 15, 1993) against the Union of India, praying for a ban on the Quran. Among other things, they declared in their petition that:

‘It may be noted that Hinduism has not restricted Hindus to have one wife only. It is the sectarian Indian Parliament which has restricted the population growth of Hindus to meet her (sic.) nefarious designs, viz. appease Mohamdens (sic.) to grab Muslims’ vote-banks and rob and slay Hindus...’

They went on to declare that:

‘The one and only reason of [sic.] the Hindus’ survival is their population strength. The Indian Government and, Constitution are colluding with Muslims to finish this barrier. [8]

Hindutva ideologues consistently accuse Muslims of allegedly multiplying at an alarming rate. It needs, however, to be noted that the Scheduled Castes and Tribes have among the highest rates of population growth, perhaps exceeding even that of the Muslims in may parts of the country. Poverty and population growth are positively correlated, and the Dalits and Tribals are among the most impoverished communities in India. Given the fact that Hindutva represents the interests and worldview of the minority Brahminical elite, one supposes that a rapid rise in the Dalit and Tribal population is seen by many Hindutva supporters, and ‘upper’ caste Hindus in general, as a menacing threat. Appeals to Hindus to abstain from birth control would one supposes, be directed particularly at the ‘upper’ caste Hindus, who constitute only a small minority of the Indian population. Thus, for instance, a news report titled, "Brahmin Mahasangh Appeals to Each Brahmin to Produce Six Sons" in the Hindi daily, Hindustan (New Delhi, October 3, 1991.), states:

‘Anguished at the growing caste contradictions in society, the Brahmin Mahasangha has appealed to the Brahmins of the entire country to produce at least six sons each.’

Not surprisingly, the appeal of the Brahmin Mahasangh passed un-remarked in the ‘upper’ caste-owned media, as did a recent statement by a top leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, calling on Hindus to abstain from birth control. And as Muslim ‘ulama and Hindu pundits cry hoarse against family planning in a pathetic race for numbers, India’s menacing population bomb ticks away unnoticed.


1. K.R. Malkani, The RSS Story (Impex India, New Delhi, 1980), p. 74.

2. Ibid., p. 75.

3. Ibid., p. 75.

4. Bishen Swaroop Goyal, Parivar Niyojan Hindu Samaj Ke Virudh Shadyantra (Vikalp Prakash an, New Delhi, n.d.).

5. Ibid.,p.1.

6. Ibid., p.2.

7. Ibid.,p.2.

8. Writ petition No. 15 of 1993-A.P. Tripathi, R.C. Agarwal, R.P. Gupta and I.L. Shrivastava versus Union of India.