New Delhi (AsiaNews) K. S. Sudarshan, leader of the Hindu nationalist paramilitary organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has urged his fellow Hindus to "produce at least three children" in order "to preserve the Hindu religion, culture and society of India".
For John Dayal, a Catholic human rights activist, such a statement "reduces women to the status of object and is a throwback to the Nazi Aryan theory of race".
Sudarshan made the controversial statement last Thursday. In it he stressed the need "for a higher Hindu birthrate" so as to end the territorial imbalance between states with different religious majorities.
"Don't get into the trap of two- or one-child norm. If you go by the one child norm, in the next 120 years, there won't be any successors in your family. You should not have less than three children and if you have more, the merrier it is," he said.
The nationalist leader also addressed the issue of 'triple talaq', or Muslim divorce. He said "you cannot push the women into the streets like that. Every marriage and divorce should be registered. There should be a uniform civil code and modernisation of Muslim education". However, he conceded that Muslims were among the "poorest and most uneducated" people in the country.
John Dayal, secretary-general of the All India Christian Council and president of All India Catholic Union, reacted to the statement of the RSS leader in a press release.
"Over the years, the nation has come to expect the most bizarre and dangerous statements from the hyper-nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and its leadershipranging from demands for eradicating neighboring countries to a sustained diatribe against Muslim and Christian religious minorities." [. . .]
"The RSS's [. . .] attempts to overwhelm Indian pluralism, [. . .] Tribals, and ethnic and linguistic minorities have alarmed Indian society for it undermines the democratic norms that sustain the unity and integrity of India."
"Advocating 11 or 12 chidlren per family to sustain their religious majority in India goes beyond the bizarre and the irrational," Mr Dayal said. "It is a racist statement [. . . based on] Hitler's 'pure race' concepts," he added.
"Equally callous and terrible is the implied super-patriarchal attitude Mr Sudershan and the RSS have towards the Indian womenvictims of child rape in the guise of traditional marriage, and now presented as a political womb at the service of a maniacal ideology and its demonic hatred towards other communities."
For Dayal, such views are based on groundless fears based on highly suspect demographic data found in the Religious Demography of India, a 2001 publication by the Centre for Policy Studies, a study that raises the bogey of a Muslim population explosion, and feeds fears of terrorism in the so called Christian-dominated north-east.
"This work was brought out soon after the 2001 Census with a foreword by the then Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishan Advani," Mr Dayal said, "but its conclusions are contradicted by the official data produced by the government's People of India Project under the direction of Dr K S Singh."
What is more, the 2001 census established that the percentage of the Christian population in India was steadily going down because of the of one or two norm children per family, even among the poor and in rural areas.
"The myth of a Christian conspiracy in the north-east based on population and conversion was shown to be false", Mr Dayal said.