ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Muslim-Hindu Fertility Differences

This paper examines Muslim-Hindu differences in the desire for an additional child and the use of contraceptives. It uses data from the National Family Health Survey carried out in 1998-99 and employs multivariate and multilevel regression models in data analysis. Results show that Muslim-Hindu differences in the desire for additional children and use of contraceptives are pervasive across India and almost invariant across states and districts. This is consistent with the findings from our analysis of data from the first NFHS in 1992-93. However, Muslim-Hindu differences have narrowed between 1992-93 and 1998-99. It is thus argued that Muslim-Hindu fertility behaviour seems to be moving towards convergence. The pervasiveness of Muslim-Hindu differences in reproductive behaviour calls for complementary ?global explanations?.

District Level Fertility Estimates for Hindus and Muslims

This paper provides estimates of crude birth rates and total fertility rates for Hindus and Muslims for 594 districts of India, and assesses the state and district level differentials across the country. It reconfirms that there is a regional variation in fertility in India, with higher fertility in the north than in the southern and western parts, irrespective of religious affiliation. However, unless we understand the regional as well as the undocumented cross-national migration of Muslims, the picture of higher population growth rates among Muslims, reported in the 2001 Census, is likely to persist in the future, in spite of the moderate decline in their fertility.

Saffron Demography, Common Wisdom, Aspirations and Uneven Governmentalities

?Saffron Demography? has been instrumental in perpetuating myths relating to claimed differences between Hindu and Muslim populations. This paper examines this by now ?common wisdom? in the light of contemporary demographic reality in India. Based on extensive research in a western Uttar Pradesh district, it argues that the scale of Hindu-Muslim demographic differences has been exaggerated, and that the explanations provided for these differences are equally pernicious. Instead, it attempts an understanding of these ?causes? leading to differences in fertility through an analysis of the kind of governmentality seen in post-independence India and argues for new policy initiatives that avoid the punitive victim-blaming approach that has thus far been the norm.

Accelerated Decline in Fertility in India since the 1980s

This study finds that fertility among Muslims follows nearly the same pace of transition as that of Hindus, particularly when an accelerated decline in fertility in the country is taking place. Based on the experience both from the west and other developing countries, there is no reason to believe that fertility transition will stall once the process sets in. Therefore, the scepticism about fertility transition among Indian Muslims is unwarranted. The paper also analyses the proximate determinants of fertility among Hindus and Muslims as against the socio-economic differentials as causes for the differences in reproductive behaviour.

Population Growth, Fertility, and Religion in India

This paper first addresses the issue of religious differentials in population growth in India and then examines differentials in fertility. Analysis of data from the second National Family Health Survey shows that differences in fertility, especially between Hindus and Muslims, are not explained by differences in socio-economic characteristics, as argued by many observers. This is true of differentials in contraceptive practice as well. However, the differences appear to be a passing phase in the process of fertility transition. Since all religious communities in India have experienced substantial fertility declines and contraceptive practice has been well accepted, it is expected that fertility levels among communities would converge over time.

Religion, Literacy, and the Female-to-Male Ratio

This paper proposes a new explanation for religious differences in fertility in India by incorporating the issue of gender bias into the debate. It reports the results from an econometric investigation of the factors influencing the sex ratio at birth and among currently living children, by religion and by caste, for a sample of over 10,000 women. The investigation paid particular attention to religion and caste by subdividing the sample into Hindu, Muslim and dalit women who had all terminated their fertility. It enquired whether the effect of different variables on the sex ratio varied according to the religion and caste of the women. The econometric analysis found that a husband being literate served to raise the sex ratio ? both at birth and of currently living children ? but that the effect of husbands? literacy was stronger for Muslims and dalits than it was for Hindus. In other words, while the illiteracy of husbands exacerbated ?son preference? (and its obverse, ?daughter aversion?), the preference for sons (and the aversion to daughters) exercised a stronger hold on Hindu families than it did on Muslim and dalit families.

Religion and Fertility

For understanding emerging patterns in fertility behaviour, according to the religious beliefs of a population, it is grossly unscientific to look only at current levels at a time when fertility is falling in all regions and among all communities, at varying rates and in response to different social factors.

Achieving Universal Primary Education

Bangladesh has achieved remarkable success in expanding primary education, especially for girls, despite continuing prevalence of widespread poverty and social devaluation of women and girls. This paper argues that underlining this success is a confluence of both demand- and supply-side factors involved in bringing about a profound social change. It explores the changing structure of economic opportunities and gender relations affecting parents' perception of the value of female education. The challenge now is to improve the quality of education that may prove more difficult than the expansion of access.

Structural Dimensions of Malgovernance in Bangladesh

This paper attempts to trace the roots of the governance problem in Bangladesh to the structural features of its polity. These features include the existing politics of confrontation, weaknesses in the practice of parliamentary democracy, the malfunctioning of political parties, the role of money and muscle power in politics, and the rent-seeking collusion among the political parties, state machinery and vested commercial interests. Efforts for improving governance must be directed towards persuading political parties of the advantages of reforms in the existing political institutions. The paper also advocates civic actions in creating widespread awareness of the benefits of better governance, thus raising the political costs of malfeasant governance.

NGO Sector in Bangladesh

The social development scene in Bangladesh is characterised by a strong presence of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The NGOs emerged following the war of liberation to help the communities in distress as part of post-war rehabilitation. Afterwards, with assistance from foreign donor agencies, they expanded their activities to deliver a variety of services including microcredit, essential healthcare, informal education, women empowerment and rights advocacy. This paper traces the evolution of the NGO sector in Bangladesh and evaluates its role in social development.

Economic Transformation and Social Development in Bangladesh

Bangladesh embarked on structural adjustment towards the mid-1980s and in the following decade, its economic performance notably improved. To consolidate this progress on economic and social fronts, Bangladesh needs to strengthen its institutions of economic and political governance. The following collection of 12 papers sheds light on some important aspects of the economic transformation and social development taking place in Bangladesh.

Development Achievements and Challenges

Since independence in 1971 to the end of the 1990s, Bangladesh's record in social development, poverty reduction and economic growth has been very impressive. This paper critically examines the role of policies and institutions in achieving the impressive development outcomes. More recently, there has been some weakening of the momentum of growth and some slackening of the progress in social development. The paper highlights the importance of improving the quality of institutions and governance in order to consolidate the developmental gains of the past decades and work towards further progress.

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