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Published in the 16-31 Dec 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Muslims in Andhra Pradesh

By Ibrahim Usmani

Hyderabad: Although it is a general perception that Muslims in South India are well off specially in states like Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, the ground realities here are totally different specially in Andhra Pradesh. Muslims in the twin cities of Secunderabad and Hyderabad may be well off being the capital of the state but as one moves away from the capital the situation worsens. That is one of the reasons that when the Congress government announced five percent reservation for Muslims it was welcomed by the community although it has been quashed by the High Court.

According to statistics based on State Minorities Welfare Department Report, National Sample Survey, Government of India, Muslims in the state of Andhra Pradesh are 8.5% of the total population. With regards to civil services, out of 326 persons in Indian Administrative Service from the state only 11 are Muslims which is 3.37%. In Indian Police Service, out of 165 persons from the state only six or 3.63% are Muslims. In Indian Forest Service, there are only three or 2.47% Muslims out of 121 from the state.

Financial position of Muslims can be determined by the fact that eighty percent of Muslims do not own houses and thirty percent of the remaining twenty percent own ancestral property. Access to public amenities is also abysmally low as only four out of thousand Muslims have telephones whereas the state average is forty-four.

As regards occupation, forty five percent of Muslims have petty roadside business. Forty percent are involved in service activities like watch, television, and radio repair. Ten percent are agricultural labour or work in allied sectors. Only five percent are professionals like doctors, lawyers, and engineers.

Income level of Muslims is also not high. Sixty five percent of Muslims earn below Rs 1000 (Rs 916) per month. Sixteen percent earn Rs 3708 per month. Fourteen percent earn above Rs 3798 but below Rs 5000 per month. Only five percent get income above Rs 5000 a month.

With regards to Health, eighty percent of them depend on government hospitals. Fifteen percent have access to private clinics and only five percent can afford corporate or good hospitals.

Although literacy rate of the state is forty four percent, that of Muslims is as low as 17.7 percent. Literacy rate among Muslims is fourteen percent and that of women is very low, only 4 percent.

Education among the Muslims in the state is very low. Only 4.54 percent of them study in government ITIs. 10.75 percent Muslims study in private/minorities ITIs. Just 3.3 percent are enrolled in polytechnics. 6.42 percent of Muslims are in junior colleges (Intermediate), 5.63 percent of them are in Degree Colleges, 5.9 percent in Medical Colleges, 1.05 percent in Engineering Colleges, 4.3 percent in postgraduate colleges.

Regarding ownership, thirty five percent of the Muslims do not have land. Twenty five percent own below one acre, eighteen percent own one to 2.5 acres. Eighteen percent own 2.5 to five acres and only ten percent own above five acres. Only fifteen percent Muslim women are wage earners and only forty nine percent Muslim men are employed.

With regards to enrollment of Muslim children in schools, only forty five percent in the age group of 5-9 years are enrolled. Fifty two percent in the age group of 10-14 years are enrolled. Twenty two percent in the age group of 15-19 years are enrolled. Thirty percent students drop out after fifteen years and six percent after twenty years.

In politics it is no better. Only thirteen out of 294 MLAs or 4.42 percent are Muslims. Only two out of 42 MPs or 4.76 percent are Muslims. Only thirty out of 1155 Mandal Presidents or 2.59 percent are Muslims and four out of 111 municipal chairpersons or 3.60 percent are Muslims. As many as sixty five percent of Muslims live below the poverty line.

Muslims themselves are partly to be blamed for their educational backwardness although Islam has emphasized the importance of learning. In fact the Holy Prophet made education obligatory on all Muslims, men and women. The clergy have mostly wrongly interpreted the verses of the Holy Qur'an and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to their advantage.

The move to provide quota is already being welcomed by the students. There are discussions among students about the efforts, pros and cons of reservations. Most of them agree that students from the minority community stand to gain. Still, on the whole, the move is expected to bring benefits for those Muslim students who struggle to gain a foothold in places where education is quite costly for them.

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