Amit Upadhyay repeats on-line misinformation as he claims to know why India’s inhabitants is rising: He says his Muslim neighbors are having too many infants, so Hindu girls have a accountability to bear extra of their very own.
A pharmacist by commerce, Upadhyay is one in every of many social media influencers from India’s majority religion to have cultivated massive audiences by spreading false demographic knowledge to assert the nation is being refashioned right into a Muslim-majority state.
For them, final month’s announcement that India had overtaken China to turn into the world’s most populous nation was not a trigger for celebration, however a name to motion.
“I inform all my Hindu clients to supply extra kids, to counter Muslims,” Upadhyay, who in his spare time curates a well-liked Fb web page from his house in Uttar Pradesh state, instructed the Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“Or else they are going to turn into a menace and ultimately wipe out the Hindu faith from India.”
Upadhyay repeatedly publishes broadly shared Islamophobic posts to his almost 40,000 followers.
One submit in April warned of an alleged plot by Muslims to “multiply their inhabitants to take management of India.”
India is house to 1.4 billion folks, together with round 210 million Muslims, however birthrates have declined throughout the board over latest many years in tandem with world traits.
The nation’s final Nationwide Household Well being Survey in 2021 confirmed an total fertility fee of two.0 kids per girl, rising marginally to 2.3 for Muslim girls.
A forecast issued the identical 12 months from the Pew Analysis Heart stated that India’s Muslim neighborhood would develop to 311 million by 2050.
However regardless of their rising share of the nationwide inhabitants, Muslims would stay a small minority in a rustic of 1.7 billion folks by mid-century, in accordance with the U.S.-based assume tank’s projections.
That has not stopped the unfold of viral disinformation on Fb, WhatsApp and different social media platforms claiming India is quickly to turn into a Muslim-majority nation.
One Fb submit sarcastically greeted the information that India’s inhabitants had overtaken China’s by thanking Muslims “for producing 5-10 kids” every.
One other submit on Twitter claimed that the Hindu religion would quickly disappear from India, whereas a supposed Muslim majority would substitute the nation’s structure with non secular legislation.
Conspiracy theories that allege a Muslim plot to safe the religion’s numerical supremacy in India have been a staple of Hindu nationalist ideologues for years.
Related theories of immigrants and minorities “changing” majority populations have additionally been embraced by the far-right in different international locations.
Muslims return via a safety gate shared with the Kashi Vishwanath Hindu Temple after providing Friday prayers on the Gyanwapi Mosque, Varanasi, India, June 17, 2022. (Getty Photos)
At occasions the theories have been indulged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Occasion (BJP), which has come to dominate nationwide politics partly via its muscular appeals to the nation’s Hindu majority.
BJP lawmaker Rakesh Sinha launched into parliament a inhabitants management invoice in 2019 that proposed to restrict all Indian households to 2 kids, garnering the assist of 125 different MPs.
The invoice was withdrawn after critics accused Sinha of focusing on Muslims when he gave a speech on the supposedly obvious disparity between Hindu and Muslim birthrates – an accusation he denied.
The U.N.’s April announcement that India is now house to extra people than some other nation on the planet has reinvigorated these claims.
“Hindus will get married as soon as, and have two kids,” Ishwar Lal, a member of a Hindu nationalist group affiliated with the BJP, stated in a public speech after the announcement.
“Whereas Muslims get married 4 occasions and have so many kids that they’ll have their very own cricket groups.”
The identical month, at a well-liked pilgrimage vacation spot within the Himalayan foothills, a spiritual sermon exhorted a crowd of the Hindu trustworthy to wage their very own demographic counteroffensive.
“From two kids, Hindus have come right down to producing one baby,” priest Ravindra Puri instructed a crowd of lots of at Haridwar. “That is inflicting an imbalance within the inhabitants.”
The answer to this imbalance, Puri stated, was for the pious to have three kids: “One to serve the nation, one to deal with the house and one to serve the faith by changing into a priest.”
India’s former election chief, S.Y. Quraishi, has written extensively on the unfold of disinformation concerning the nation’s Muslim birthrate.
He stated that claims Muslims would quickly turn into India’s majority faith had proved to be a salient “propaganda” device for Hindu nationalists.
“They proceed to impress Hindus to supply extra kids by making a concern that Muslims will outnumber them,” he instructed AFP.
“This may by no means occur.”