Muslims of Gujarat: The real picture

27 Jun

By Kashif-ul-Huda,,

Gujarat government has made many claims about vibrant Gujarat. Recently, it has also made claims that Muslims in Gujarat are in much better condition that many other states of India. When Narendra Modi’s newspaper ad in Bihar was found to be using image of the UP Muslims, BJP spokesperson claimed that facts about minorities of Gujarat remain the same. He said his party is ready to debate the data. It is time to test the facts and see how Gujarat fares in the light of public data.

1. Muslim population of Gujarat:

According to Census 2001 figures, Gujarat has 4.59 million Muslims out of total state population of 50.67 or 9.1% of the population. Total Muslim population in India, according to the same census data is 139.2 million, therefore a total of 3.32% of Indian Muslim population live in this state. Closest state to Gujarat in terms of Muslim population and their share in total state population is Rajasthan with 4.79 million Muslims (8.5% of total).

Of the top fifty districts of India by Muslim population only one district of Gujarat finds a place. Ahmedabad with a Muslim population of 6,62,799 (2001 census) is at 45th place on this list of fifty. Surat is another city of the state with a significant Muslim population of 4,47,951.

Data computed by Sachar Committee shows that 58.5% of Muslim population is between the age of 15 to 59, 35.3% are of age group 0 to 14 years, and only 6.1% above the age of 60. Gujarat is ranked third in India in terms of proportion of population 15-59 years of age. Only Tamil Nadu and Kerala have more percent of their Muslim population in the range of 15 to 59 years of age.

Full page newspaper advertisement that claimed that “Muslims in Gujarat enjoy better education, employment opportunities, financial stability, health facilities, infrastructure.” One of the picture used in this advertisement is from UP and property.

2. What Gujarati Muslims see as their biggest concerns?

Representations made to Sachar committee reveal what issues the Muslims think are important to them. One third of issues raised by these representations (in Gujarat and all India) were related to education. Employment issues were ranked as number two for Gujarati Muslims (17% of total issues) while it was at number three for all India. For no other state, security was such an important issue as Muslims of Gujarat, they ranked it as their third most important issue (16%) while the all India level this issues was placed fifth out of the nine categories. The Report states that “for Security the issues raised included (a) Problems related to communal riots and associated ghettoisation; (b) Inappropriate attitude of government towards Muslims; (c) Sense of Discrimination; and (d) Impact of militancy and problems in border areas.” Obviously, only the first three will apply for Gujarat.

3. Gujarat’s ranking: (Where do Gujarati Muslims stand according to Sachar Committee report?)

3.1 Gender ratio (females per 1000 males): 13th (for all age group), 21st (for age group 0-6).
937 gender ratio for Muslims is much better than 920 for the whole population of Gujarat and slightly better for all India Muslim average of 936 but rank much lower than almost half the state. [Appendix Table 3.8: Census 2001]

3.2 Contraceptive Prevalence Rate: 1st.
58% of couples of reproductive age practicing some form of contraception, this is almost equal to state rate of 59%. This is the only category where Gujarati Muslims top the list. [Appendix Table 3.13: NFHS-2, 1998-99]

3.3 Literacy level: 5th(overall).
Gujarati Muslims literacy level (73.5%) is slightly better than the state average of 72.8% and much better than national average of 59.1% for all Muslims. [Appendix Table 4.1, 4.1a, 4.1b: Census 2001]

3.4 Mean years of schooling: 6th (overall), 5th (male), 7th (female).
At 4.29 mean years of schooling, it is about a year higher than national average for Muslims but lower than Gujarat average of 4.57 years. [Appendix Table 4.2: 2001 Census]

3.5 Proportion of children aged 6-14 years enrolled: 14th.
Gujarat is doing very poorly in this department, in fact it is worst than West Bengal for proportion of children aged 6-14 years and enrolled in schools. Only 78.9% of Gujarati Muslim children are enrolled, figures for all Gujarati children is 84.8%. If this trend continues coming years will show Gujarati Muslims further lag behind in education.[Appendix Table 4.3: NSSO 61st Round Schedule 10, 2004-2005]

3.6 Number of Madrasa students: 16th (boys), 16th (girls).
This data is based on NCERT’s 2002 All India School Survey and surprisingly only 4001 students are to be found in Gujarat madarasas. A comparable state Rajasthan has more than 9 times number of Muslims in madrasas. [Appendix Table 4.4]

3.7 Completed education: 4th (completed primary education), 6th (middle school), 7th (matric)
As Muslim students move through the education system, their share among the educated drop drastically from being fourth among all Indian states after the Primary level (74.9% have completed at least primary education) to sixth for Middle level (45.3%) to poor seventh (26.1%). These numbers are more than national average for Muslims (60.9%, 40.5%, and 23.9% respectively) but the difference gets narrower higher up the education level. [Appendix Tables 4. 6, 4.7, & 4.8]

3.8 Workers Population Ratio: 4th (all)
At 61.1% Gujarati Muslims rate is better than national average of 54.9 for all Muslims. Considering that Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana (which have smaller population of Muslims) are the only states with better ratio than Gujarat, this data is significant. [Appendix Table 5.5] Of all Gujarati Muslim workers, 53.7% are self-employed, 22.7 is trade, and 13.3% in manufacturing.

3.9 Banking: 11th (outstanding amount), 5th (number of accounts & total savings amount), 8th (individual deposit)
Given that a higher percentage of Gujarat Muslims are workers and also that majority of them are self-employed, one would expect that their savings to be higher but they seemed to have less savings than Muslims from Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Could this be because they don’t have access to banks in their areas? Their population share is 9.1%, however, in bank accounts their share is only 7.6%. Individually Muslims in Gujarat save more than other Gujaratis but their saving is less than Muslims of states such as Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. [Appendix Tables 6.3, 6.7, & 6.8)

3.10 Poverty incidence: 7th (urban)
Poverty incidence is 34 for Muslims of Gujarat residing in urban areas, which is better than many states but almost double the state average of 18. [Appendix Table 8.5]

3.11 NMDFC beneficiaries: 7th (amount disbursed, number of beneficiaries)
National Minorities Finance Development Corporation (NMFDC), under the Term Loan Scheme give loans for commericially-viable project costing upto Rs. 5 lakhs. Gujarat performance under this scheme, in terms of number of beneficiaries served or amount disbursed matches their share in total Muslim population of India.

Another image of Gujarat: grave of Wali Gujarati was razed in 2002 and road built over-night, it is yet to be restored. [Photo by Nasiruddin Haider Khan]

4. Gujarat over the years:

4.1 Proportion (per 1000 households) of households reporting land cultivated upto 1.00 hectares by major religion for major states
Survey : land cultivated (0.00 hectares) – (0.01-1.00 hectares)
NSS55: 743- 113
NSS61: 645- 117

4.2 Proportion (per 1000 persons) of persons in the labour force according to the usual principal and subsidiary statuses taken together for each major religion and major states.
Survey : rural Muslims – urban Muslims
NSS55: 374 – 329
NSS61: 482 – 307

4.3 Proportion (per 1000 persons) of persons employed according to the usual principal and subsidiary statuses taken together for each major religion and major states
Survey : rural Muslims – urban Muslims
NSS55: 356 – 324
NSS61: 476 – 325

4.4 Unemployment rates according to the usual status (principal and subsidiary statuses taken together) for each major religion and major states
Survey : : rural Muslims – urban Muslims
NSS55: 51 – 18
NSS61: 10 – 52

It is shocking that in five years between NSS55(1999-2000) and NSS61 (2004-2005) unemployment rate of urban Muslims has increased from 18 to 52. A reverse has happened with the unemployment rate of rural Muslims where it has come down to 10 from a high of 51. What explains this anomaly? Can this be because number of small farmers shows a significant decrease in the same period? Is it possible that Muslims barely eking out a living in rural Gujarat have moved to urban areas and now living as unemployed? To understand why these Muslims may have left villages we have to go back to the representations that was made to Sachar Committee and see that security is one of the highest concerns of Muslims of Gujarat.

5. Conclusion

Gujarat government has not released data to see if Muslims in the state has prospered in the “Vibrant Gujarat.” Even state government’s own ad had to resort to Sachar Committee data to make its claim. Notwithstanding that most of Sachar data is from 2001 and earlier, before Mr. Narendra Modi took office as the chief minister.

Even with Sachar data, Gujarat ranking among states is far from being impressive. Execpt for Contraceptive Prevalence Rate, Gujarat is not number one or even top three in any of the socio-economic indicator. It is true that Gujarat is not at the bottom of the ranking but its performance in these indicators for its Muslim population is below par or at best at par with what should have been considering its population size.

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