I constantly here about the increasing population amongst Muslims, and how they have large families and how some have more than one wife as permitted by their law and how large families of Muslims buy homes and build more and more floors to accommodate them. This kind of talk spreads, and creates irrational fear and prejudice amongst people of other races, and in Sri Lanka, especially amongst Buddhists who are lead to believe by some of their leaders that they are under threat and MUST do something about it!
In this background and climate we had the torching of Muslim homes and businesses in Aluthgama and Beruwela recently. There were also some Sinhala homes destroyed, but in comparison, they were overwhelmingly tilted towards Muslim suffering damage. The sentiment amongst many Sinhala people who are are easily aroused but who fail to delve any further into what is said or even rationalize the context in which it is said, is that the Muslims deserve it for being uppity. I think they mean that in the initial spark, where a three wheeler did not permit a vehicle with a Buddhist priest to pass, and the young occupants hurled verbal and then physical abuse (or that is just one of many versions of the story), that they need to be taught a lesson before they get too arrogant!
I know I am treading very carefully in these murky waters, as I can get abused from both sides in this analysis. However the point of this is that we should not get too emotionally embroiled in these fear mongering. Whilst there may be some statistical evidence to some of the facts given, we should not consider them permanent and inviolable.
As anecdotal evidence I would like to point out the time when Lee Kwan Yu of Singapore was trying to improve real economic growth there. He saw that low income families had many children, whilst the educated classes were either not having any children or were limiting them to just one. He therefore foresaw a shift in productivity, where there would be fewer people who could contribute disproportionately to this growth due to a fall in this population. He therefore encouraged professionals to have more children, by giving heavy incentives to them, and discourage lower middle class, by penalizing them for having more children. There was NO race or religion involved here.
My contention here is that in some minorities and perhaps assisted by their religious beliefs, the number of children is dependent on the economic circumstance and the perceived need for more children.
In my experience, in my interaction with many middle class friends who are Muslim, all of them I know have either two or less children, and only in three instances are there 3 as a maximum. Granted they are wealthy, but in a Country where we expect high economic growth when people move up the income ladder they will inevitably have fewer Children. Muslims being 10% of the Sri Lankan population will NOT be a problem despite all the statistics of extrapolated population growth, which we know from past experience is highly inaccurate.
One possible reason, why the Sinhala population growth is so low and currently in a declining mode, is due to the emigration of Sri Lankans permanently to western countries and temporarily to Middle East and other Countries, in search of employment. The last census DID NOT have a count of people by ethnicity, who live overseas, but who are citizens of Sri Lanka. This is fodder for the extremists in their misuse of statistics. It is time family values are stressed by Buddhist clergy.
It is possible due to the higher level of education of Sinhala people, they have decided to defer having families for longer, and when they do, have no more than 2 children, for practical purposes, such as having to divide personal property. Muslims on the other hand may feel that they can provide economic livelihood to all their children, such as a shop or business, and neither of which requires a huge investment in education, as the Sinhala parent values! they are not land lubbers!
These are all hypothetical and I am sure some sociologists are studying this issue to be able to put people’s fear to rest. I sincerely believe that instead of pointing to Muslims and their tendency to have on average more children, the Sinhala people must look at their nuclear family and question its integrity, due to the tendency to send mothers overseas and requiring grandparents to care for children. This too may adversely impact on why children brought up in these circumstances, tend also to have fewer children due to childhood traumas of upbringing. I am sure a psychologist may be better able to explain the nuances.
We must forever take out of our minds this ridiculous and mischievous rumor of Muslims encouraging Sinhala girls to take some sweets that will make them barren. It is simply the Sinhala Govt. today that is killing their own in thousands from renal failure due to the overuse of fertilizers encouraged by the subsidies given by the Govt. It is the promise of subsidies that permitted this Govt. to win the elections, and so we are now paying the price of voting on promises.
So let us call a spade a spade and lay the whole blame on the destruction of the Sinhala race on the Mahinda Rajapakse Govt. and have them held accountable!!
Frankly this is another case of the Govt. trying to lay blame on an outside party, they are even dreaming up international conspiracies, instead of merely looking at the mirror to find the culprits! Another case of fooling the masses to hide one's own inadequacies.