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Demographic Illusions

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  19 April 2017 12:00 AM GMT

Recently, over 100 million Indian Muslims signed a petition demanding that the Sharia law permitting Muslims males to marry four wives should remain in force in India as well since it was part of their persol laws. This is a statement that is perfectly in order in an Islamic theocratic state. But India is neither a theocratic state nor a country where all the people are of the same religion. It is a secular country with a remarkable extent of diversity. People of different faiths have lived here in amity and harmony for centuries. The adoption of a secular constitution when the country became a republic on 26 January 1950, has served to underscore the fact that all citizens of the country share a common law. Under these circumstances, the very notion that there should be provision for people of different faiths to retain their own persol laws in addition to the laws of the land should be repugnt to citizens of the country. What is worse, is that such a persol law would have the effect of totally altering the demographic composition of the country in a discrimitory manner.

The Muslim persol law sought to be retained in India (obviously for Muslims alone) relates to the practice of polygamy. In other words, the millions who have signed the petition have demanded that their men should be allowed to marry four wives each and that there should be no question of their being asked to practice any kind of family planning. This is a totally impractical and retrograde demand in any plural society anywhere in the world. In the first place, it is a demand that will exempt the people of just one religion from sharing the responsibility of bringing down the very high population growth rate of the country. Today India is adding one Australia to its population every year. This is disastrous for the country, and has to be brought to an end in the next few years. The problem is certainly not solved by permitting people of one faith to practice polygamy. On the contrary, every Indian should be coaxed and encouraged to limit the family to just two children. This is an imperative that the Muslim population of India alone cannot be permitted to ignore by insisting on the right to practice polygamy. That apart, conceding the right to practice polygamy to the people of just one faith is a highly discrimitory privilege that people of other faiths would have a very legitimate reasons to protest against. The Census of 2011 revealed very clearly that the Muslim population of India had achieved a significantly higher rate of population growth than people all other faiths. Quite obviously, Muslims who feel strongly about the right to practice polygamy and the right to dissolve a marriage instantly by merely uttering the word talaaq three times should be permitted to have their cherished privileges in any country of their choice that is not secular. If the secular laws of India do not suit them, or if they are unwilling to abide by a set of laws that is common to all citizens of the country regardless of their faiths, they should have the freedom to reside in a country where their cherished privileges are a part of the laws of the land. We would like to humbly suggest that any citizen of India who is unhappy about the laws of the land should have the freedom to migrate to any country in the world that has the laws of their choice. What is important is that the citizens of India should not be coerced into permitting any group to insist on following persol laws that make it possible to ensure a population growth of that group far in excess of other groups and faiths in the country. If this is allowed to happen we cease to be what we claim to be. We are no longer a secular country if we permit the persol laws of one faith in a plural society to jeopardize the very existence of people of other faiths. Our Constitution gives us various kinds of legitimate and ratiol freedoms. It is time we ensured one other kind of freedom as well. People who are not happy with the kind of laws we have for everyone, should also have the freedom to migrate to a country of their choice rather than trying to impose alien laws on a secular society.

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