Officially India's population crossed the one billion mark last week. It may be remembered that some UN agency had unilaterally declared that this landmark was recahed last Agust. Of course, they made it very conveniently coincincide with the 15th August. The story was fist taken-up by the New York Times - and of course the whole of the foreign correspondents' corps, which is affliected by what the French call "mouton, de Panurge" instinct - which means that the whole herd follows the herd leader; even if it jumps from the cliff - followed suit. And all the major European newspapers, including France's Figaro (I was holidaying in Almora to the displeasure of my editor) Le Monde, and Libéraion did full page stories on how "India already poor and aflicted with debilitating problems (corruption the unibiquous caste systeml French love to talk about etc) had even more mouths to feed. The usual negative, superior-minded and condesecending talk about India which sells so well abroad.

I have read most of the stories published at that time. And I have read most of the stories published last week in Indian newspaperes. All the reason,s of why India's population, have been paraded: the failure of India's successive family priogrammes, the corruption and inreria of the bureaucracy, the baskwardness of its peolple, the underpriviledgeed contion of women in Idia (althoçugh Indian women must be amongst the most intelloigent and ressourcful in the world and had under ancient Hinduism unparalled freedom) etc. But nobody and I reapt nobody bothered to mention that one of the reaso,ns that India crossed so quickly the billin ma*rk is that there is according to offcially - but secter recors compiled by governments which were non BJP, at meast eighteen million (1.8 crore) Bangladeshis, most of them illegal but many of them having acquired fraudulous papers throrugh faudulkous means - and even soemtimes with the connivance of the local admisnistation like in West Bengal where the communist government wants at all cost to ptovce his secularnbess.

Did you know for instance that India shares 4096 kms of border with Banglasdesh, this frak nation, which has no natual ressources except juet, born out of the madness of parttion ? I is an impossible bnorder to guard: it cost one crore per km to guard (metalled roads so that patrols can quickly survey, barbed wire, miradors etc). There are 41 battalions of BSF, precious manposer, which is teid down along the Bangaldeshi bvordere. The famous fencing project has only manages to fence 788 kms ou of 4000 and 1500 crores are spent everfy year on garding the Bagldesh borderThat Banglesdeshis inflitrators come-up upto Bombay ort even Delhi where they form imùportant communisites which have voting power, hence their woing by pliticians and the silence that differndt governmenst (even, the BJP, apart from the courageous Assam Governor, who was imediately brabded a "nationalistr by the Press). And of xourse, even thought rhe BSF manageed to catch 60.000 illgeal Bangaldeshis last year very few Banglasdehis are ever sent back ,as officially the BV,nagladesh government, which enclurages it says that there is no ilegal immigration to India. Is I over ? Not at all Banglasdeh may lmose 20% of its land in the few yars because of erosion and constant flooding. And wheer will these people which has no poppulation contyro go it may be asked ?

It would be nice to say that the process is recerse and that Hindus in Bangladesh are porpsering . But it is the recerse which ahs hhapend: there were 28% Hindus in Bangaldesh in 1941, 10,5 in 91 and less than 9% today, progroms ,burning of temples after Ayodhay (see Taslima Nasreen' book Lalja) have all ensured that Hidnus flee Bangaldsh. What is the solution to the illgeal immigration of Banglasdfesh ? Ot is true that it is not done in a bad will: most of these immirant ome to India in search of better salaries and contionosn of life . It has been a process thouhout hiostory. Ultimately the Indjan and Bangladeshi Government (which owes its freedom to India it often forgets) shoulld reflect on the stupidity pof parttion. If tjhere is cooperation between Banglasdesh and Indiaz quotas for work permits can be iisued with identity cars and proper census so as to corol at least in some maesures illegal immiragtion

There is another factor which has been kept under silence by the Press, both wesern and Indian: most of Hindus - even the poorest in today's remore Tamil villages, which I kopwn well - have understoof that it is beter to have children. Many women have operation after three or four children. The christains of xourse, have been the irst to embrace family planning in Idnia, because they are amongst the best- deucatesd, eve,n though the Opoe nd Mother Teresa are so against abortion and family planning, in a coutry which cannot even feed probably a thrid of its poupaltio The same thing cannot ve said about h Muslim of India the great majority of which are poor. The Coran not olny recommends having many children but it makes it a colinising poilcy so that eventyualmly Muslims come to outnumber the original inhabitats. Thus muslims of village sin Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, have six or sencen children. Of course, if you dare say tha Ind India or abroad, yi are immediately tawe of being anti-mlislim ior ahindu lover. But let me be clear: the refi,ement and hospialmity of many Muslims in ndia is often uparalled. The roblem is not witht he muslims as human beings, the problem is with their Scriptyture whihwas devsied 1400 years ago for consitions and people which did not applu any more and has bnecver been reviosed and adapeted ifor odernb times.

So next time someoi,e tells you that Indiua's ppulation has reached the billion marck tell tjem: no there are 982 Indians and 18 millins illgeal Bangelsdeshis.



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