A report of the fifth National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) released by the Union Health Ministry released in December 2020 shows that the Muslim community in Assam has witnessed a sharp decline in fertility since 2005-06. This report contradicts the statement made by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma where he called 'immigrant Muslims' to adopt a 'decent family planning', reported Times of India.
According to the report, the community has witnessed a dramatic decline in the fertility rate since 2006.
The total fertility rate (TFR) or the number of children per woman among the Muslim community in Assam is at 2.4, which is higher compared to 1.6 among Hindus and 1.5 for Christians. However, the reduction in fertility among Muslims has witnessed a drop of 1.3 from 3.7 in 2005-06 to 2.4 in 2019-20. Hindus have seen a reduction of 0.4 during the same period. The TFR in India is pegged at 2.2.
The NFHS-5 also indicates that the level of development, cultural and geographical factors also key determinants of fertility other than religion. Based on these indices, Bihar, one of the most backward states in the country, has a fertility rate among Hindus as high as 2.9. In fact, Jammu and Kashmir has a lower fertility rate among Muslims, compared to Hindus in any other states, at 1.45. Moreover, for Hindus, the TFR at 1.32 is also low in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to the report, the TFR in Kerala (2.3) and Bihar (3.6) is just above the replacement level fertility. As per demographers, replacement level fertility means just having enough babies to maintain the population balance constant.
Despite the overall high literacy rate in Kerala, the literacy among Muslims is poor. A study by Dibrugarh University said that the fertility rate level among Assamese Muslims could be brought down by providing education, especially to women.