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The “appeased” Indian Muslims are far more deprived
By Md. Zeyaul Haque

Indian Muslims are in greater economic distress than Hindus, according to the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), an autonomous body under the federal ministry of statistics and programme implementation.

The findings of the 55th round of nationwide economic survey announced last week showed that Muslims constituted a higher number of the absolute poor both in rural and urban areas.

Twenty-nine percent of rural Muslims were among the people with lowest consumption expenditure per member of family every month. This is the lowest consumption expenditure group with per head Rs 300 ($6) expense per month. People in this class constitute only 26 percent of the rural Hindu population.

The gap is much wider in the urban areas where 40 percent of Muslims belong to the bottom 20 percent, while only 22 percent of Hindus belong to this class. The difference here is nearly double, which means there are nearly twice as many poor among Muslims as among Hindus in towns and cities.

Muslims with regular salaried jobs in towns and cities too represent a much smaller ratio of their population compared to Hindus. Only 27 percent of Muslim households have a working member with a regular salaried job, compared to 43 percent among Hindus.

Salaried jobs are preferred economic engagement in India because they provide a regular, steady income.

Land holding in rural areas is a major indicator of economic status and social position. Here too, Muslims are at a severe disadvantage. While only 40 percent of Hindu households constitute the class with little or no ownership of land, Muslims in this class constitute 51 percent of their population.

Unemployment too is higher among Muslims, both in the countryside and in urban areas.

Illiteracy also is higher among Muslims, both in urban and rural areas. In the rural areas 48 percent of Muslims cannot read or write, though only 44 percent Hindus come under that category. In the towns and cities, 30 percent of Muslims are in that category as opposed to only 19 percent of Hindus.

The NSSO findings are used by government for deciding economic plan priorities. According to some estimates, the gap between the Hindus and Muslims has grown wider over the last decade of the 20th century.

The poor performance of Muslims on all indicators — consumption, education, employment and land-holding is a cause of concern. Although there are findings from major non-governmental institutions like the prestigious National Council for Applied Economic Research, a Delhi-based thinktank, that is less depressing, NSSO findings are by and large reliable. Yet Hindu fascist organisations keep harping on a myth called "appeasement", claiming that Indian Muslims are more privilaged in India than Hindus!

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