Children’s Day

It was Children’s Day in India.

There’s a constant worry about being “outbred” in democratic societies. Instead humankind needs to have a much more rigorous (cultural rather than legal) approach towards child-breeding. Unfortunately our biologies don’t really help; peak fertility coincides with peak career-building time.

Prior to having children, couples should make sure that they are firmly on the path to success.

The Myth of Muslim Fecundity?

I was rifling through Ambedkar’s book on Pakistan (rediscovered it courtesy of Slapstik) and I came across the curious statistic of Sindh’s pre-partition population statistics. I was shocked to see just how high the non Muslim percentage actually was in 1935. The proportion of non-Muslim in Indus province towns is simply astonishing, Karachi & NWFP.

There are 7million Hindus  in a global Sindhi population of 26million Sindhis. If that’s true then that means that Hindus are approximately 27%, slightly shy of their 29.3% figure in 1935.

I haven’t bothered doing the same analysis  for the Punjabi population because of state adjustments of the Indian Punjab after Partition. Here is Bengal’s data in 1935:

The Bengali Muslim population is estimated to be at 55% in 1935. Presently out of 300mm Bengalis worldwide, 185mm (61%) are estimated to be Muslim.

The caveat is that these 1935 Bengali districts don’t include Sylhet. My rough calculations is that the Sylethi population could potentially increase the 55% Muslim figure in 1935 to as high as 58%.

In conclusion the Hindus & non-Muslims of Bengal and Sindh have been able to maintain their relative strength in population even though the Muslim minorities can be said to be poorer and less educated (especially in the case of Sindh, the Sindhi Hindu diaspora is particularly prosperous). There is also the additional factor that Bangladesh has embarked, quite successfully, on family planning and other social projects.

The Myth of Muslim fecundity may have some basis but it is also heavily exaggerated. In this case Demographics is not Destiny.


Ps:These figures are iffy at best since they rely on Wikipedia; for instance the Sindhi Hindu totals do not add up to 7mm but I’m going on what’s generally available.

The right amount of Love

There was an interesting passage in this screed against Quaid-e-Azam:

A man who cannot extend unconditional love to his children, who casts them out for following their hearts, is a cold and callous human being, and not a leader worth following.

I’m not condoning what the Quaid did with regards to Dina Wadia but even so I don’t think material attachments, as a rule, should override ideological underpinnings. Disowning one’s child for marrying outside one’s religion is foolish but there are reasons as to why one would want to disown one’s child.

As an aside South Asia (especially Pakistan) seems moribund in its obsessiveness with the past and after the jump I’ve posted a passage, which my wife sent me, about Mindfulness in the present. Her contention is that the Old World in general looks backward rather than forwards to a gleaming future hence why the best Research Institutes in the world are West Coast USA.

Continue reading “The right amount of Love”

Review: The Holocaust, A New History

Laurence Rees has spent a lifetime studying the Holocaust and it shows in this book. A very readable (and horrifying) retelling that starts from post WWI Germany and details all the steps in the somewhat haphazard but ultimately effective process that led to the most horrifying mass murder in history. It was not necessarily the largest genocide in history (estimates and definitions vary, so it hard to say with certainty) but he makes the case (and I think it is a very reasonable case) that many aspects of this particular genocide are uniquely evil and terrifying (and I am including even larger crimes, such as the Arab and European slave trades, in this comparison). Anyhow, readers can (and surely, will) make up their own mind about the relative horror of this particular crime, but if they read this book, they will at least learn the full extent of it.
He starts with the currents of antisemitism that circulated in 1920 Germany (many of them were pan-European, some were even of Anglo-American origin) and the process by which Hitler rose to power. The book makes clear that while antisemitism was commonplace, most Germans were not thinking of systematic genocide; but some violent, sociopathic and/or evil people were, and they gradually coalesced around Hitler and got the chance to put their various demonic ideas into practice using the resources of a modern state. Continue reading “Review: The Holocaust, A New History”

Review: Rail Ki Seeti (an elegy for partition)

Mohammed Hasan Miraj is a Pakistani writer who served in the army, was stationed at Siachen glacier and then worked in ISPR (Interservices Public Relations) where he made at least one movie and then retired as a major and went to the London School of Economics to earn a degree in communications. While working for ISPR, he wrote several very nice articles in Dawn newspaper, almost all of them little travel pieces about various places in Pakistan; these articles are rich with history and folklore and display an erudite, liberal, tolerant and sagely tragic spirit; they are also obsessed with the romance of train travel.
This apparently lifelong fascination with travel, history and trains has now been poured into his first Urdu book, a small gem called “Rail ki Seeti” (the train whistle). Continue reading “Review: Rail Ki Seeti (an elegy for partition)”

Sikhism & Iran’s Symbol

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I saw this in an Iran forum and was immediately intrigued but it turns out to be simply a coincidence. However it’s a nice segue to this article on the Sikhs of Iran, Iran’s Sikhs get a better deal than many other minorities.
The strong relations between India & Iran is no joke; I remember on my second trip to Tehran last year the queues to the Indian embassy for visas were literally bursting. Sadly (or not) the relationship between Pakistan & Iran seems to be a very one-way affair, Pakistani’s are more enamored and the Indo-Pak Shi’ite pilgrims in Iran don’t make the best impressions of themselves with their excessive fawning (or so I’ve heard).