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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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

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campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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