Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community of India

FOCUS

This report, also known as the Sachar Committee Report, was commissioned in March 2005 by the then prime minister, Manmohan Singh. It was prepared by an independent high-level committee chaired by Rajinder Sachar, former chief justice of India. The committee also had experts from the fields of economics, sociology, education, demography, public administration, development planning and programme implementation.

The report collects and analyses data on the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community in India. Specifically, it tries to gauge if and why Muslims are under-represented in government departments and other spheres.

The committee gathered data from central and state departments, banks, financial institutions, educational institutions and public sector undertakings. But the report is based mainly on large-scale national surveys and census data. The states covered are Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, West Bengal, Delhi, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar and Maharashtra. 

    FACTOIDS

  1. Muslims constitute the largest religious minority in India. The 2001 Census enumerated the Muslim population at over 138 million and estimated that by 2006 it would be over 150 million. This is among the highest in the world, exceeded only by Indonesia’s and close to that of Pakistan and Bangladesh

  2. The 2001 Census showed that literary rates were low among Muslims, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The literacy rate among Muslims in 2001 was 59.1 per cent, below the national average of 65.1 per cent.

  3. The perception that religious conservatism among Muslims is a major factor for not accessing education is incorrect, says the report. As with many Indians, the main reason for the ‘educational backwardness’ of Muslims is abject poverty, which forces many children to drop out of school after the first few classes. This is particularly true for girls.

  4. In predominantly Muslim localities, there are few quality schools (in any language) beyond the primary level. Many schools are culturally hostile towards Muslim students and teachers.

  5. Urdu-medium school education, the report says, is in a dismal state. The problems include a lack of these schools (at the anganwadi, primary, secondary and higher secondary levels), the poor quality of teaching, long-pending teacher vacancies, and the recruitment of Hindi instead of Urdu teachers.

  6. While seeking work, a Muslim candidate, even with the requisite degrees and certifications, faces discrimination, especially in the government and organised sector. The traditional occupations of some sections of Muslims – for example, in the silk industry and sericulture, handlooms and powerlooms, the leather industry, automobile repairing and garment making – are on the decline due to economic liberalisation.

  7. Many people the Sachar Committee spoke to felt that Muslims are denied political participation in various ways. For instance, constituencies with a Muslim concentration are declared ‘reserved’ for SC candidates. And Muslim names are routinely missing from voter lists across states, which not only disempowers Muslims but also makes them ineligible for government schemes.

  8. Muslims, especially women, experience discrimination when they try to access government benefits, including housing and other loans, and pensions. They are often unable to avail of reservation benefits given to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) because they are not given caste certificates.

  9. Muslims in most of the surveyed states said that both public and private banks and discriminated against them when it came to providing credit.  

  10. The Sachar Committee had access to the credit flows of the Small Industries Development Bank of India  and the National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development, which provide credit to the small-scale sector and many in the rural economy. It found that the share of advances given to Muslims is insignificant.

  11. Around 82 per cent of small villages with less than 10 per cent of Muslims have educational institutions, while only 69 per cent of small villages with a substantial Muslim population have these institutions. 

  12. The availability of medical facilities falls with the rise in the proportion of Muslims, especially in larger villages. A similar pattern prevails with post and telegraph offices. Villages with a significant Muslim population are not well served with pucca (permanent) approach roads and local bus stops.

  13. Muslims are close to average (at a better level than SC/STs) in terms of the quality their houses and toilet facilities. But on parameters such as the availability or water, electricity and cooking fuel, they are as ill-equipped as SC/STs and at a clear disadvantage compared to all other socio-religious categories.

  14. The 1901 Census lists133 social groups that are ‘wholly or partially Muslim’. Since the Constitutional (Scheduled Caste) Order, 1950 restricted SC status to Hindu groups that had ‘unclean’ occupations, their non-Hindu counterparts have been bracketed with middle-caste converts and declared OBCs. 

  15. Most problems enumerated in the report are not specific to Muslims; all  disadvantaged socio-religious categories face them. But a sense of insecurity and a crisis of identity makes Muslims perceive these problems as community-specific. The report says that very presence of these problems must be addressed.


    Focus and Factoids by Aditi Chandrasekhar.  

AUTHOR

Prime Minister’s High Level Committee
Chairman: Justice Rajindar Sachar
Members: Saiyid Hamid, T.K. Oommen, M.A. Basith, Rakesh Basant, Akhtar Majeed and Abusaleh Shariff  

COPYRIGHT

Government of India, New Delhi

PUBLICATION DATE

01 Nov, 2006

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