The total number of live births in the city declined in the last 10 years, but the share of Muslims in it has gone up by a significant nine per cent. During the last decade, almost all other major communities in the city saw a drop in their birth count.
The data obtained by Newsline from BMC’s health department through Right to Information (RTI) shows births recorded in the Hindu community dropped 20 per cent, from 1.42 lakh in 2003 to 1.14 lakh in 2013. Amongst Christians, the number of births dipped 3.68 per cent, from 3,339 in 2003 to 3,216 last year. The Parsi births fell from an already low of 193 in 2003 to an all-time low of 174 in 2013.
While Muslim births accounted for 20.53 per cent (38,271 births) of the total 1.84 lakh births recorded by the BMC in 2003, their share in 2013 increased to 29.37 per cent, accounting for 51,465 of the total 1.75 lakh births in the city last year. It also registered a significant 34 per cent rise since 2003.
Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-founder of Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, said that while more and more Muslims were getting educated, a major chunk still remained illiterate. “We logically link literacy with family planning. A lot of Muslims, especially in rural areas, are still uneducated and the trend of having more children is common in them,” Niaz said.
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According to Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, the Muslim population in India is estimated to increase from 177.3 million in 2010 to 236.2 million in 2030. The Muslim share of India’s population is expected to touch 15.9 per cent in 2030.
Dr Suchitra Pandit, president of FOGSI (Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India), said, “Culturally speaking, Hindu and Christian women prefer to work professionally more than Muslim women do. Hindu women in metros want to limit their family to one child. In Parsis, the marriage is so late that often the couples have one or no child.”
Another interesting finding from the RTI data is the increased share of Muslims in the overall female births in the city. From 18,600 (20.82 per cent of total Muslim births) in 2003, Muslim female births steadily rose to 24,821 (29.4 per cent) in 2013. Female births amongst Hindus, however, dropped — from 76.5 per cent to 65 per cent — of the total female births.
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