Indian Muslims And Their Economic Oppression

Note: This article is the third in a series that presents an in-depth analysis of the Sachar Committee Report and its observations regarding the social, educational and economic status of Muslims in India.

Economic Status

The Sachar Report has tried to understand the economic status of Muslims using different indicators. Its findings include:

1. While there is considerable variation in the conditions of Muslims across states (and among the Muslims, those who identified themselves as OBCs and others), the community exhibits deficits and deprivation in practically all dimensions of development.

2. Analysis of the data on poverty shows higher presence of Muslims in ‘persons below poverty line’.

3. The low flow of bank credit to Muslims is a serious problem, as lack of access to credit can have far-reaching implications for the socio-economic and educational status of the community, as a significantly larger proportion of Muslim workers are self-employed, especially in home-based work.

4. An analysis of the results of the Census of India, 2001, has indicated that banking facilities are inversely related to the proportion of the Muslim population in a village/locality.

5. There is a widespread perception that the participation of Muslims in the self-help groups (SHGs) and other micro-credit programmes is very limited.

6. The review of government programmes suggests that Muslims have not benefited much from them. At times, the Muslims do not have adequate participation as beneficiaries – and when the participation is adequate, the total amounts allocated to the programme are too low to make any meaningful impact.

7. Inadequate availability of infrastructure facilities such as schools, healthcare, sanitation facilities, potable water and means of daily transportation is one of the many problems that Muslims share with other poor people, especially those who are disadvantaged.

The report contains detailed analyses of the conditions of employment of Muslims in a comparative perspective, and the nature of vulnerabilities that the community faces in the context of employment. In addition to looking at the industrial and occupational profiles of the Muslim workforce, the report analyses information on work conditions.

Low Worker Population Ratio

According to the Sachar report, the Muslim population differs significantly from other socio-religious communities (SRCs) in its participation in the economy and unemployment. The analysis of employment status of the population/workforce is for people in the age-group of 15-64 years, and it includes both principal and subsidiary employment statuses. Its findings:

1. Worker population ratios for Muslims are significantly lower than for all other SRCs in rural areas, and   marginally lower in urban areas.

2. The low aggregate work participation ratios (WPRs) for Muslims are essentially due to much lower participation of the community’s women in economic activities. The lower participation of women in rural areas is partly due to the fact that Muslim households (and hence women) are less likely to be engaged in agriculture.

3. The WPRs for Muslim women in urban areas are even lower, presumably because work opportunities for women within the household are very limited.

4. Age-specific WPRs show that participation rates are lower for Muslims in almost all age groups for males and females, both in rural and urban areas.

Muslim Workforce

1. The most striking feature of the Muslim workforce is the relatively high share of workers engaged in self-employment activities, particularly in urban areas and by women workers.

2. Within the realms of self-employment, Muslims are less engaged in agricultural activities.

Low Participation In Salaried Jobs

1. The participation of Muslim workers in salaried jobs (both in the public and the private sector) is quite low.

2. Less than 24% of regular workers from the Muslim community are employed in the public sector or in government jobs.

3. Muslim workers have the lowest shares in the coveted regular jobs in large private enterprises (private and public limited).

4. The low share of Muslims in the government/public sector is also reflected in the data shared with the committee by various government departments and public sector undertakings (PSUs). In most of the departments and PSUs, the share of Muslim workers does not exceed 5%. In none of the all-India civil service cadres does the share of Muslims exceed 5%.

The level of Muslim participation in the Indian workforce and the nature of their employment should both be areas of high concern for the Indian government. (Photo by Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Low Representation In Government Service

1. In no state does the representation of Muslims match their population share. Instead, they fall far behind their population shares.

2. The share of Muslims in employment in government service is abysmally low at all levels. It increases only marginally for lower-level jobs – but even in group ‘D’ employment (which requires only a low level of education), the share is only about 5%.

3. The share is only 4.5% in the Indian Railways with almost all (98.7 per cent) positioned at the lower levels. Only the people in the remaining 1.3% are employed as Group ‘A’ or Group ‘B’ officers.

4. The figures are as low as 3.6% at the higher and 4.6% at the lower levels of employment in security agencies.

5. Overall, the share of Muslims as police constables is only about 6%.

6. The presence of Muslims was found to be only 3% in the IAS, 1.8% in the IFS and 4% in the IPS services. Muslims who have secured high-level appointments could do it mostly as ‘promoted candidates’. Their share as ‘direct recruits’ through competitive examinations is quite low – 2.4%, 1.9% and 2.3%, respectively.


NEXT: A closer look at the educational status of Muslims in India


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Featured image used for representative purposes only.

Featured image source: Subhankar Chakraborty/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

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