|Data collected by Prime Minister’s High Level Committee, headed by Justice (retd) Rajinder Sachar on their social, economic and education:
In rural areas: 94.9% of Muslims living below poverty line fail to receive free food grain.
Only 3.2% of Muslims get subsidized loans,
Only 2.1% of Muslim farmers have tractors, while just 1% own hand pumps.
54.6% of Muslims in villages and 60% in urban areas have never been to schools. In rural areas, only 0.8% of Muslims are graduates, while in urban areas despite 40% of the Muslims receiving modern education only 3.1% are graduates. Only 1.2% of Muslims are post-graduates in urban areas.
While West Bengal has 25% Muslim population, only 4.2% are employed in state services. In Assam , with a 40% Muslim population, only 11.2% are in government employment. Kerala has 20% Muslims, but only 10.4% of government employees are Muslim.
A better picture is projected by data collected in Karnataka, where against Muslim population of 12.2%, 8.5% are employed in government services. While in Gujarat, of the 9.1% Muslim population, 5.4% are in state jobs , in Tamil Nadu, against a 5.6% Muslim population, 3.2% are employed in government.
Though West Bengal is known as a political bastion of the left bloc, the ones who have always spoken strongly against parties entertaining communal bias, the state has zero% Muslims in state PSUs. While Kerala has 9.5% in state PSUs, Maharashtra has only 1.9%.
Though the Sachar committee was not able to secure data regarding the presence of Muslims in the armed forces, it is fairly well-known that their percentage here is not more than three.
Muslims form only 10.6% of the population in Maharashtra , but 32.4% of the prison inmates here are Muslims. In New Delhi , 27.9 % of inmates are Muslims, though they form only 11.7% of the population here. While in Gujarat , Muslims form 25.1% of the ones imprisoned, they form 9.1% of the population. In Karnataka, Muslims form 12.23% of populace and 17.5% of those imprisoned.
Interestingly, the majority of the Muslim inmates have not been imprisoned for “terrorism.” This raises the question whether most of them are behind bars only for petty crimes or because of the bias displayed against them by Indian police forces. Of the total inmates serving sentences up to one year, in Maharashtra , Muslims constitute 40.6% of their population. The high percentage of Muslims presence in jails is also said to be an indicator of their being victims of discrimination and suspicion, particularly as their prevails a tendency in India to blame largely Muslim groups for terror attacks taking place here. The report also holds poverty among Muslims as being responsible for turning them towards crime. Poverty and prejudice entertained against them is said to have further contributed to their presence in jails.
Against the backdrop of dismal facts having surfaced regarding social, economic and educational status of Indian Muslims, the Sachar panel has made some recommendations in their favor.
Stating that the future of Muslims does not rest in madrasa education, the Sachar panel recommends more English and Urdu medium government schools in Muslim-dominated areas.
The Sachar panel also recommends allocation of 15% of all government funds to Muslims under all central schemes. It favors greater representation for Muslims in sectors such as health and teaching and also sensitization of government employments towards Muslims’ requirements.
The Sachar panel has made a strong argument for all Indian Muslims, except the creamy layer.
With the Sachar report having already served as an eye-opener to the harsh reality about the status of Muslims in Indian society, the question is whether in fact this will propel the government to take some constructive steps towards improving their conditions or would its relevance be confined to noise made in media circles and a little bit of political rhetoric.