India is home to the second largest Muslim population in the world – constituting around 14.2% (180 million) of the country’s population. It is estimated that if Indian Muslims made up an independent country, they would be fifth or sixth most populated country in the world. But the question is – are they living with the dignity and growth, be it, social, economical or political, that they deserve?
Muslims are lagging far behind on basic parameters like development, education, employment and poverty control. National Survey Sample Organization (NSSO) in 2010-11 pointed out that Muslims are India’s poorest and worst educated religious group. Muslims, on average, spend just ₹32.7 daily. Another shocking revelation from the 2011 census is that one in four beggars in India is Muslim.
Education brings awareness and development but if reports are to be believed, higher education indices for 2014-15 reveal gross enrollment rate of all-Indians at 23.6% as compared to 13.8% for Muslims. As far as literary rate is concerned within the community, 81% Muslim men are literate as compared to 91% of Hindus, 94% Christians and 84% of Sikhs. All this data and statistics points to awful conditions of this religious community in the country.
Muslims in India are treated as a seasonal vote bank, whose demands are highlighted with the ebb and flow of elections. It is appalling to find that a country with an 18 crore Muslim population has just 23 Muslim MPs in the Lok Sabha. More surprising is that the BJP, which is in the power with absolute majority, has no Muslim MP. It fielded only 7 of the total 482 candidates. Uttar Pradesh, with the highest Muslim population in the country, has no Muslim representation in the Parliament at all. All this exhibits a deep leadership vacuum which is essential to address this crisis.
Politicians who claim to be well-wishers must realize the danger of this humongous crunch of disparity in our society. India needs to realize that it can never be developed with a huge chunk of the population lagging behind on all social parameters. Muslims too, need to come out of the age-old customs and traditions that hold them back and demand a proper representation and most importantly their development. They need to look forward in this ever-changing India.