“The Muslims have a future and they believe in it—we Hindus have no conception of it. Time is with them—time is against us. At the end of the year they could count their gains, we calculate our losses. They are growing in numbers, growing in strength, growing in wealth, growing in solidarity; we are crumbling to pieces. They look forward to a united Muslim world; we are waiting for our extinction.” ~ U. N. Mukerji, in his 1909 book A Dying Race.
Mukerji wrote his book in response to the 1901 census of India, which showed a steep decline in the population of Hindus in many regions of India, particularly in Bengal (the united Bengal of his time). The book begins with data from the first census, conducted in 1872, which showed that Hindus were in majority. In just thirty years, as per the 1901 census, Mukerji notes that the population of Hindu Bengalis had fallen to 25 lakhs less than the Muslim Bengali population.
In the twentieth century, the population of Hindu Bengalis has continued to decline. Currently, the percentage of Hindus in Bangladesh is 8.2 percent. It is clear that Mukerji’s fear that the Hindus are a dying race has come true in the Bengal region. His fear has also come true in Pakistan, where Hindus were once in majority but today account for just 2.14 percent of the population, and in Indian states like Kashmir, where militancy has led to a steep decline in the Hindu population.
In his book, Mukerji’s focus is on the analysis of the social and economic conditions which have fragmented Hindu society and created the problem of lack of cultural and religious awareness among the Hindu masses. He identifies several painful facets of Hindu society, and takes note of the reasons which motivate some Hindus to discard their religion and convert.
A Dying Race is written in an objective and introspective style—it does not create the impression of defeatism. Mukerji’s aim in writing the book was to raise cultural and religious consciousness in the Hindu masses—in this endeavor, he found some success. His thesis on decline of Hindu population became popular among the nationalist intellectuals of that period. It influenced the thinking of the Arya Samaj movement and, in 1915, it contributed to the founding of the Hindu Mahasabha.