Data Shows Situation of Muslim Women Better
By Abusaleh Shariff and Syed Khalid
The RSS-affiliated Rashtrawadi Muslim Mahila Sangh approached the Supreme Court of India through an application in June for codification of ‘Muslim personal law’, especially to end practices such as polygamy and triple talaq, or instantaneous divorce. The court in October sought the opinion and recommendation of the Government of India on these issues. The government responded that the absence of reforms in the (Muslim) community during the past 65 years has left Muslim women “extremely vulnerable, both socially as well as financially”. Almost immediately on October 24, 2016 Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the practice of the so-called ‘triple talaq system’. Addressing a rally in Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh, he stated that “no injustice should be meted out to our mothers and sisters in the name of religion or community.”
At first glance, this seems like a happy moment for the Muslims of India that even the BJP and its cultural mascot, the RSS, intends to improve the conditions of Muslim women; an indication, surely, that one day this will do good for Muslim men as well.
What the data shows
Yet, our happiness was shattered when we did a little research using data from the Census of India – 2011. This analysis raises the following questions: Is the Muslim women’s condition in India as pathetic as the Modi government, the RSS and other surrogates claim it to be? Are Muslim women socially and financially “extremely vulnerable” – as mentioned in the government’s affidavit to the Supreme Court? And how is their situation compared to their sisters from the Hindu, Christian and other religious communities? Since no credible data was put forth as evidence – neither in the government affidavit nor in the prime minister’s speech – it is useful to see what the census data tells us.
We have analysed data from the ‘Marital Status by Religious Community and Sex – 2011’ C3 table of the census in order to try and establish what the empirical position is.
Our principal finding is that the situation of Indian Muslim women seems far better than women from other religious groups.
|For example, the percentage of women staying in marriage is highest among Muslims (87.8%) compared to Hindus (86.2%), Christians (83.7%) and other religious minorities (85.8%).
|The percentage of widowed women is least among Muslims (11.1%) compared to Hindus (12.9%), Christians (14.6%) and other religious Minorities (13.3%). It is likely that the culture of widow remarriages provides a higher level of family protection to Muslim women compared to women from other religious communities.
|The percentage of separated and abandoned women is also least among the Muslims (0.67%) compared to Hindus (0.69%), Christians (1.19%) and other religious Minorities (0.68%).
|The same census data suggests that the divorced women percentage is higheramong the Muslims at 0.49% and Christians at 0.47% compared to other religious minorities (0.33%) and the Hindus, at 0.22%.
|The practice of getting a divorce among the Hindus is traditionally non-existent. Out of 340 million ever-married women 9.1 lakhs are divorced and among them 2.1 lakhs are Muslims.
The process of talaq (divorce) is clearly laid down in the Holy Quran, which is against triple talaq. The triple talaq was an exception rather than a rule under special circumstance. Divorce is not a whim. Both men and women are required to follow a process that involves at least three months (or three menstrual cycles) after separation and reconciliation efforts fail. The logic is twofold; if the woman can bear a child, the system wants to ensure that she is not pregnant and if she were, child support has to be figured in. The other reason is to allow each other to find a place to live and not get thrown on the street. Further, arbitrators should be appointed, one from the husband’s family and the other from wife’s, for a transparent reconciliation; finally, the parties have the right to retract and sustain the marriage during the period of separation.
Further, there are two types of divorces in Islam – one initiated by the wife, called ‘khula’ and the other, talaq initiated by the husband. Triple talaq is a variation of the talaq initiated by the husband. If the husband gives talaq he must pay mehr (bride-price) to his wife, which is a mandatory payment paid or promised by the groom to the bride at the time of marriage. Mehr is specified in every marriage contract signed during marriage. If the wife seeks khula, then she must give up her right to mehr, as this marriage nullification is initiated by herself.
The authors consulted four qazis from the ‘darul qaza’ (family court) having expertise in Islamic jurisprudence and authorised to effect khula or talaq in the city of Hyderabad. While a marriage, or nikah can be performed by many qazis spread all over the city, khula and talaq can be settled only by these four qazis. It is learned from a qazi that during the past seven years, he came across only two cases of triple talaq. Another qazi who has been practicing for the past 15 years and has settled 160 divorce cases of which 130 were khula, 21 were regular talaq and only 9 were classified as triple talaq.
Plight of abandoned women
Though there is no hard data, anecdotal evidence suggests that triple talaq is rare and that in the unfortunate cases where they have occurred, the community by and large has strongly stood by the side of the victim and tried to rehabilitate her. Further, it must be noted that Supreme Court of India has already held triple talaq invalid in Shamim Ara v State of UP (Uttar Pradesh) judgment of 2002, and divorced Muslim women have also been getting justice under laws such as the Muslim Women’s Act and the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, besides the Indian Penal Code.
Against this backdrop, the eagerness of the RSS, the BJP and even Prime Minister Modi to project triple talaq as the major issue to be confronted so as to empower the Muslim community is questionable. Instead, they need to focus their concern on the 43 million widowed women belonging to all parts of society, provide them incentives for remarriage and/or programmatic financial support for sustaining a living. There are also close to a million divorced women in India who require social as well as government initiated support. Further, the issues relating to separated and abandoned women is much more serious than that of triple talaq. As per the last census, they are 2.3 million separated and abandoned women in India; in absolute terms, that is more than two times the number of divorced women. There are close to two million Hindu women who are abandoned and separated; this number is 2.8 lakh for Muslims, 0.9 lakh for Christians and 0.8 lakh for other religions.
The life of every woman unilaterally separated from her spouse is pathetic, irrespective of whether she is the wife of Raja Bhoj or Gangu Teli. They face challenges and constraints both in their marital and natal families. The marital home does not support them as their son has abandoned her and the natal home ignores her as she is traditionally considered paraya dhan – belonging to someone else. They cannot remarry and start a family due to the fact that they are not divorced. Most live in extremely dire conditions socially and financially; and at risk of exploitation by others. They are desperate to live with their husbands, waiting for one call from him. Despite not living with her husband for 43 years Jashodaben Modi said on November 24, 2014, that “if he calls once, I will go with him”. But her husband never responded.
Abandoned wives find it difficult to even get a passport in India; for example, in 2015, when Jashodaben applied for a passport, her application was rejected for the reason that “there was no marriage certificate or a joint affidavit with the spouse”. She struggled and filed an RTI to get details of her own husband’s passport.
Anyone trying to improve the conditions of Muslim women by talking of the red herring of triple talaq should know the depth of sufferings of 2.4 million deserted women. “No injustice should be meted out to our mothers and sisters in the name of religion or community,” Modi had said. Will he not take up their cause despite the fact that the vast majority – 1.9 million – are Hindu and there may be no political gain from talking about their plight?
Abusaleh Shariff is the Chief Scholar at US-India Policy Institute, Washington DC. Syed Khalid is a Research Associate at Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy (CRDDP), New Delhi, India.
The article was published in The Wire on Dec 12, 2016
By Abusaleh Shariff and Amirulla Khan
The government’s demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes is a contentious issue, but is understandable. Such schemes may have not worked in the past, but a political commitment had to be honoured. The question is not whether the government is right for demonetising the currency; instead, the concerns are centred on why they adopted this chaotic and surreptitious approach.
The EU had replaced a large number of currencies in 2002. Its citizens were given a two months – between January 1 and February 27 of that year – to comply. In December 2014, the Philippines announced that old peso notes, some dating to 1985, would be withdrawn starting January 1, 2015, with customers given until the end of 2016 to exchange the old notes. Even Zimbabwe gave its citizens a three-month window before replacing the dollar. In all these instances, the old currency continued to be legal tender during the transition process.
The US has had acute trouble dealing with black money and dirty cash for over a hundred years now. Yet, not once has it declared its currency illegal since it began issuing notes in 1862. That is the strength of its financial system, on which the entire world relies.
A currency note is a promise that must be kept, whatever the circumstances. Because this trust has been broken in India, queues have formed outside banks and ATMS, with banks closing down mid-way through the business day, saying they have run out of cash.
Pro-establishment die-hards would snigger and argue that the two high value notes have been withdrawn to check black money. It had to be done in total secrecy, they say, to thwart nefarious attempts by hoarders to dump currency. But what is it that these hoarders could have done in a reasonable time frame that they are not doing now?
They could use multiple bank accounts in other names. They could redistribute their money in small parts, buy gold and convert local currency into foreign. All this and more is happening now and taxmen are reportedly collecting this information with alacrity.
What was the need for creating this chaos and penalising honest citizens who believe in Indian money and trust in the Reserve Bank’s declaration, ‘I promise to pay the bearer the sum of five hundred rupees’? Whatever the 2% are doing to reduce their losses, the rest of us are bewildered. Should we accept Rs 2000 notes? What if these are declared illegal by the next government? Should we go off work and stand in long queues outside banks to withdraw the Rs 2000 or Rs 4000 we have been permitted to access in a day?
India’s majorly cash-based system would certainly benefit by some measure to curtail it. At 12% of GDP, India’s cash economy is nearly four times the size of that of Brazil and South Africa. By demonetising the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, India could get rid of counterfeit currency and fake notes that allegedly entered the country through the Chinese and the Pakistani border. Some tax evaders will surely bring out their cash stashed away in mattresses and false ceilings. But this will be a trickle – a minuscule percentage of the total.
The current demonetisation is the second one since independence. In 1978, the government led by Morarji Desai introduced the High Denomination Bank Notes (Demonetisation) Act and made the Rs 1000, Rs 5000 and Rs 10,000 notes illegal. The expectation at the time was that the black or shadow economy, estimated to be around 15-18% of GDP then, would reduce if not get totally eliminated. But black money went up to 18-21% during 1983-84.
The World Bank has estimated the size of shadow economy to be 23.2% of India’s total economy in 2007, and eight years later one would expect it to have increased further both in percentage and in absolute amount. Note that that last decade has seen a fast pace of GDP growth in India. Therefore if the shadow economy is 25% of the total economy, this will be equal to over $2 trillion in PPP terms (India’s GDP in 2016 is $8.7 trillion in PPP terms or $2.3 trillion in nominal terms).
Given the size of the shadow economy, can one expect to reduce or eliminate it through the recently introduced demonetisation drive? All old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes are now redundant. Some provisions have been made to either exchange or deposit these notes in banks in small amounts until the end of December. The government did do the due process and many got the wind of it when a kind of amnesty was announced a few months ago. Weeks before the demonetisation announcement, information about the new Rs 2000 note began to appear across social media platforms.
Many must have got wind of this and saved their money ether through due process or through benami (falsely named) accounts. Note that there is no limit on how many bank accounts one can operate in India. Thus multiple accounts and accounts in the names of relatives and will allow a substantial number of the middle and higher middle class to salvage redundant notes despite the demonetisation.
The real issue is how the common man been affected by the drive. The current demonetisation has adversely affected the poor, wage labourers, small businesses, farmers and other minorities. Often these small income earners save cash for a rainy day. The incidence of bank accounts and bank transactions will be extremely low among these groups. These are the communities who do not engage in the formal banking sector too much. Rather they save their daily or weekly wages in cash, often in large denominations. It is these groups who have been hit the most by the demonetisation drive.
The demonetisation can well trigger a recession, while not entirely addressing the black economy. This will affect only those individuals who hold cash. Others who have already converted their money into assets, and invested in gold and other luxury items will be only marginally affected. This demonetisation is not likely to impact the structure, level and incidence of corruption in India. Often the proceeds of corrupt bureaucrats and politicians never arrive in India; they are handled off shores. They will now be only too happy to have Rs 2000 notes at their disposal.
Abusaleh Shariff is the Chief Scholar of US-India Policy Institute, Washington DC. Amir Ullah Khan the Senior Advisor; also director of research at Aequitas and policy advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The article was published in The Wire on Nov 16, 2016
By Rupam Jain and Tom Lasseter
Economic Times | Tue Aug 9, 2016
Two miles down the road from the white marble walls of the fabled Taj Mahal, a heavyset man crouches in the dirt of a cow shed and explains how the future of India belongs to him.
Digvijay Nath Tiwari is commander of a vigilante group that claims 5,000 members in the northern city of Agra, and which cultivates informants, swarms shop owners, ambushes trucks at night and metes out extra-judicial violence, all for one cause: protecting the holy cow, an animal held sacred by Hindu beliefs.
Across the country, hardline Hindu groups have made headlines after being captured on video insulting and beating men they accuse of involvement in cow slaughter.
"Retaliation is important at times," said Tiwari, as he sat with 17 men squeezed around a straw mat on the shed floor. His cell phone contained photographs of stick-wielding men rushing to the aid of fallen cattle.
Local police say they cannot stop Tiwari's actions, laying the blame partly on lax laws.
The "gau rakshaks", or cow protectors, are inflaming tensions among India's religions and castes. They risk undermining Prime Minister Narendra Modi's efforts to focus on economic advancement, even as the right-wing Hindu nationalist forces that got him elected promote their own agenda.
The implications reach far beyond the winding alleyways of Agra. Social and religious stability are key to future assumptions of prosperity in India, currently the world's fastest expanding major economy.
"India will remain one of the strongest growth stories in the region," a Goldman Sachs strategist said in April, echoing the sentiment of many foreign investors.
Yet such outlooks built on macro-analysis risk missing a ground truth: if the right-wing groups empowered by Modi's rise do not stop antagonizing minorities, then the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) plans for nurturing that growth will not easily come to pass.
Cow slaughter is illegal in most of India, an overwhelmingly Hindu nation. However, it had long been tolerated under the Congress party, which ruled the country for most of its independent history and prides itself on protecting Muslims and lower castes who ply the meat and leather trade.
Now the Hindu nationalist BJP is in power, and that is changing as vigilante groups gain prominence. And Modi, while saying he's concerned, has been either unwilling or unable to halt their more extreme actions.
The prime minister was trained and nurtured by hardline Hindu organisations that were instrumental in his rise from the son of a train station tea seller to leader of the world's biggest democracy.
Once at the helm, however, he has focussed on more pragmatic and inclusive economic issues: spurring growth and creating enough jobs for a rapidly expanding workforce.
These initiatives could be derailed by a narrower, Hindu nationalist agenda aimed at protecting symbols made sacrosanct by religious texts and countering a perceived threat of foreign influences.
In a speech on Saturday night in New Delhi, Modi lashed out at the cow protectors.
"I feel so angry at times. Some people who are engaged in anti-social activities for the whole night wear the mask of 'gau rakshaks' in the day," he said.
A senior aide to Modi, who is approaching the halfway mark of his five-year tenure, said at the end of July that while the leader is aware of the social and economic implications, "we cannot do much to stop cow protection forces ... cow protection is integral to our core support base."
DALITS FEEL UNDER SIEGE
The violence of cow vigilante groups this year, some of it caught in disturbing videos on the Internet, has unsettled minority groups.
One clip from Gujarat shows four men, shirtless, tied to a bumper being whipped with rods. The victims were Dalits, or Indians at the bottom of the caste hierarchy who traditionally take away cow carcasses which can then be used for leather.
In another, from Haryana, two people are made to sit on the road and eat a concoction including cow dung. They were reportedly Muslims, and the footage was taken during Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.
While the BJP does not bank on the support of many Muslims, it does want to secure the votes of the Dalits, a caste formerly known as untouchables.
Together, the two groups account for about 30 percent of India's population, a major consideration with important state elections due next year and a national ballot set for 2019.
Chandra Bhan Prasad, a prominent Dalit writer and adviser to the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, compared the violence to that of Ku Klux Klan racism in the United States.
"It's like India's version of KKK – the past was great so long as these blacks were under our thumb, society was beautiful. So, how to control these Dalits?"
"COW NOT JUST AN ANIMAL"
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the nation's umbrella right-wing Hindu organisation which helped create the BJP, does not appear willing to tackle cow protection forces, blaming outlaws for causing the trouble.
"The cow is not just an animal. We have an emotional and religious attachment to it and we want to make it the centre of our economic activity," said a senior RSS leader in New Delhi, who asked not to be named so he could speak more frankly.
"Vigilantes are instructed to follow the rules and they are a disciplined force. We admire their work."
Champat Rai, a leader of the Hindu activist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), or World Hindu Council, a group formed by RSS leadership which oversees cow groups, was more direct.
"I am a cow patriot and want to free cows from the slavery of Muslim butchers," he said. "It's better we shed our blood to save the blood of cows."
In Agra, some 220 km (135 miles) south of New Delhi, there has already been bloodshed, and the threat of more to come.
One prominent Dalit businessmen in the city, H.K. Pippal, said recently at his shoe factory that he had a plan should the cow protection gang try to interfere with his operations and the cow leather it uses.
"I am very powerful, my workers could kill them."
Tiwari, the cow group leader, blames the butchers for much of the problem.
"It's not just that the butchers get beaten," he said. "They attack us and threaten to kill us. It is a serious clash."
Tiwari acknowledged having four criminal cases pending against him, but said he was innocent in all of them.
In February this year, the vice president of the VHP in Agra, who was also a senior member of Tiwari's group, was surrounded by a group of five Muslims while walking from a temple to his furniture shop, according to a police report.
The men had previously been targeted by the cow protectors for allegedly dealing in beef, according to Tiwari.
One of them boasted: "You think that you are a big leader, we'll teach you a lesson today," said the police report.
A pistol shot rang out and the VHP official, Arun Mahour, fell dead in one of the oldest and busiest markets of Agra.
A mob of young Hindu men set out for a Muslim quarter, said the police officer in charge of the area, S.K. Sharma.
Soon, thousands of people were in the streets, Sharma said. "This almost became a riot between the Hindus and Muslims."
The fallen Hindu leader left behind two sons, aged 12 and 16. Asked about the family's future, his widow, Rajni Mahour, covered her face with the edge of a white sari and caught her breath for a moment.
The way forward, she said, was clear: "My family says that we should know to lay our life down for religion."
The data was compiled based on 2,01,997 students of Class VI from 1,011 schools recognised by the Directorate of Education.
Seventy four per cent government school students studying in Class VI could not read a paragraph from their Hindi textbook, 67 per cent could not do simple three digit by one digit division and 75 per cent children could not read a basic Class II level English story. These findings, released on Monday, were part of an assessment by the Delhi government to evaluate students and categorise them based on their level of proficiency and ability to meet the expectations of the academic level that they are studying at.
The data was compiled based on 2,01,997 students of Class VI from 1,011 schools recognised by the Directorate of Education. The assessment was conducted following the launch of the Delhi government’s Chunnauti 2018 policy, which is aimed at enabling students studying in government schools, especially Class IX students, to overcome the problems faced by them due to adverse effects of the ‘No Detention Policy’.
It was conducted by teachers between July 14 to 16 in the form of a handwritten test for students of classes VII-IX who scored more than 33 per cent in the Combined Summation Assessment of their previous class. The test had five questions each of Hindi, English and Math and assessed comprehension, application and problem-solving skills. Hindi and English Reading are sub-categorised into five common levels — beginner, letter, words, paragraph (Class I level competency) and story (Class II level).
For students in classes VI, VII and IX who scored less than 33 per cent in the assessment of their previous class, an oral one-on-one for basic reading (Hindi and English) and Math competency was assessed. In the first round, online data entry of Class VI children was done by the schools. Data entry of Class VII to IX is likely to be completed soon.
Parliament approved India's biggest overhaul of indirect taxes on Monday after the Lok Sabha ratified a constitutional amendment Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a major step to make doing business easier.
The proposed goods and services tax (GST) is one of the most significant reforms since India opened its economy 25 years ago and the revamping of the tax system since the country's independence in 1947.
The measure will harmonise a mosaic of state and central levies into a national sales tax, creating a single customs union widely expected to reduce business transaction costs, with potentially significant long-term growth benefits.
The Rajya Sabha, where the measure was stuck for months, passed the bill last week.
Modi hailed the passage of the bill as a "great step by team India, (a) great step towards transformation, great steps towards transparency".
"Today, an important move to free the nation from tax terrorism has begun," Modi told lawmakers in the Lok Sabha.
The advancement of the new sales tax is the biggest legislative victory for Modi, who swept to power in 2014 promising to nurse India's then faltering economy back to health.
His plans to simplify rules for land sales got scuttled in parliament last year. Similarly, political opposition forced him to put on hold proposed legislative changes aimed at making it easier for companies to hire and fire workers.
It has been 13 years since the tax was first mooted, but forging a political consensus has been a bruising process, as the measure would curb the powers of Indian states.
Ironically, the GST is getting closer to the finish line under Modi, who while running the state of Gujarat vehemently opposed it - a fact that drew criticism from opposition benches.
Modi defended his stance, saying his experience as a provincial chief helped him better understand and address states' concerns.
"Lots of flaws have been overcome as far as the GST is concerned," he said. "A trust between the centre and states has developed."
Under the new regime, companies will get offsets for taxes paid at different stages of the supply chain, mitigating the dangers of double-taxation.
The finance ministry aims to roll out the GST from next April. Meeting the self-imposed deadline, however, will be a race against time, tax experts say.
The bill now needs the approval of half of India's state legislatures and central and state legislatures must pass three laws to implement the tax.
(Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Tom Heneghan)
60% Indians listed as ‘non-workers’ in Census data, marking a marginal improvement since 2001.
By ZEESHAN SHAIKH
Indian Express | June 8, 2016 1:33 am
The percentage of the non-working population is highest among Muslims in the country, according to data released by the Census office on Tuesday. A massive 11.61 crore Muslims — who make up 67.42% of the 17.22 crore Muslim community — have been listed as non-workers.
The total 72.89 crore Indians have been listed as non-workers — 60.20% of the total population of 121.08 crore. Non-workers are defined as those who do not participate in any economic activity — paid or unpaid, household duties, or cultivation.
Following Muslims in the list of communities with the largest share of non-workers are Jains. There are 0.29 crore non-working Jains, who make up 64.47% of the total Jain population. After them are Sikhs (63.76%), Hindus (58.95%), Christians (58.09%), Buddhists (56.85%) and Others (51.50%).
An analysis of the Census records shows that the percentage share of non-workers fell slightly between 2001 and 2011. In 2001, out of a total population of 102.8 crore, 62.63 crore were registered as non-workers — making up 60.88% of the population. In 2011, the number of non-workers has gone up to 72.88 crore, but they now make up 60.2% of the total 121.05 crore population.
The large number of Muslim non-workers has been blamed on the lack of adequate employment opportunities, and an exceptionally skewed work participation ratio between men and women. Women make up only 15.58% of the community’s main total working population. The participation of women in the main workforce in India is 24.64%.
The only community where more women are confined to their homes are Jains — where the participation of women as main workers is just 10.02%.
“A low work participation rate generally does not mean that a community is poor. It is seen that work participation is higher in communities that are poor and backward. In the case of Muslims, there is a huge distortion… A large section of the community prefers that its women stay at home, which is one reason for low work participation,” Dr Abdul Shaban, deputy director, TISS, said.
Economists are split on why the number of non-workers in the economy is on the rise, but are unanimous that it is not a healthy trend for a growing economy.
“In India traditionally, the participation of women in the workforce has been low. There is some evidence that if the household income goes up women generally withdraw themselves from the workforce,” Dr Pronab Sen, former chairman of the National Statistical Commission had said earlier.
On the Margins: Muslims in a State of Socio-economic Decline
ABUSALEH SHARIFF | Oct 22, 2004
Census 2001 has generated more heat than light on the condition of Muslims in India. Population counts according to religious identities have been regularly published by the census since Independence and even earlier. This year, the unadjusted population counts were liberally used to compute growth rates that sparked off ill-informed reactions on the Muslim community. However, demographic data points to a disturbing decline in the economic profile of Muslims and their marginalisation from the development process.
Muslims in the year 2001 constituted 13.4 per cent of India's population — 12 per cent in rural parts, but a relatively higher share of 17.3 per cent in urban areas. Adjusted for exclusion of Assam in 1981 and Jammu & Kashmir in the 1991 census, respectively, the decadal growth rate of Indian Muslim population came down 3.6 points, from 32.9 per cent between 1981-91 to 29.3 per cent between 1991-2001. These rates for Hindus have been 22.8 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively — a 2.8 points decline, which is lower than that for the Muslims. The rate of decline has been considerably large for Muslims, suggesting that growth rates of Muslims and Hindus would converge over time. The process will be hastened with the spread of mass education especially among women and girls, and a sustained reduction in poverty across all population groups.
While religiosity influences the living patterns of sizable segments of citizens, it does not significantly impact the fertility behaviour of Indian Muslims. The use of modern methods of contraception among Muslims has been on the increase in recent years and is nearing 50 per cent. Over 20 million Muslim couples practice modern contraception; this number will grow if quality reproductive healthcare services are made accessible to Muslim couples. However, the relatively higher incidence of poverty and a growing gap in literacy between the Muslim and Hindu women at younger ages are causes of worry, as this could restrict the decline in Muslim fertility. Research worldwide has established that improvement in female education, associated with declines in poverty levels, will facilitate a faster decline in human fertility and improvement in life expectancy.
Over 60 per cent of the Muslim population in India lives in five states — Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Assam. Of this, 36 per cent stays in urban India, while urban Hindus constitute 26 per cent of all Hindus. However, it appears that the Muslims are unable to extract any benefit from the concentration of institutional and infrastructural facilities in urban areas. Data from the NSSO's 50th and 55th round suggest that over 40 per cent of Muslims in the urban areas live in poorest 'monthly per capita expenditure class' (MPCE) quintile compared with less than 22 per cent in the case of Hindus. The fact that the situation has worsened for Muslims in urban areas, as only 30 per cent Muslims were in this quintile in 1993-94, is a pointer to their decline in living standards over time. A deeper analysis suggests that the middle class is absent among Muslims, even with the Indian middle class growing at a faster pace during the last decade or so.
While Muslims in 1999-2000 were only a shade more illiterate in rural areas (48 per cent, against 44 per cent of the Hindus), this gap is much wider today — 30 per cent versus only 19 per cent among Hindus in urban areas. Improvements in general literacy conditions among Muslims have been marginal compared to Hindus and other communities. But what is startling is the increase in illiteracy among younger Muslim women. The literacy levels of Hindu and Muslim women were uniform through the 50s, 60s, 70s and even the 80s, but by 2001 the differentials among younger women had widened substantially. Besides, enrolment rates of Muslim girls fell steeply (not increased) especially during the decade of the 1990s and thereafter. What's worse is that the differential with respect to Muslim women increased at higher levels of education, such as completed middle level, matriculation, graduate, postgraduate and high technical level education. These trends are also applicable to the education attainments of Muslim men, but at higher literacy levels.
However, everything is not gloomy for Muslims. They enjoy a better sex ratio in both urban and rural areas compared to Hindus. The percentage of women with anaemia is slightly lower among Muslims (50 per cent) compared to Hindus (52 per cent). Interestingly, Muslims have a lower infant mortality rate than Hindus, a higher proportion of the population in the age group less than 15 years in both rural and urban India compared to Hindus and Christians, and the lowest share of the aged population (60 years or more). The proportion of Muslim population in age group '30 years and more' is less than the other groups. This gives a very young look to the Muslim population in India.
Young Muslims are a critical component in India's socio-economic profile. They need an enabling environment for access to basic and technical education, with opportunities to improve their economic standing. Concerted efforts should emanate from the Muslim community, while governments do their bit. The time is ripe for the UPA government to bring out a White Paper on the status of Muslims in India, and link its efforts with internationally recognised welfare objectives, such as those articulated in the UN's Millennium Development Goals declaration.
(Indian Express - Jan 29, 2015)
Eight of Delhi’s 11 districts figure in India’s top 20 in composite development — measured in terms of economic development and the indices of health, education and material well-being.
The recent District Development and Diversity Index Report for India and Major States by the US-India Policy Institute and Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy provides significant insight into the regional imbalances in India’s development story.
(Odisha Sun Times - Jan 30, 2015)
A joint survey conducted by the US-India Policy Institute and the New Delhi based Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy has found that eight Odisha districts are among the 50 most backward districts in the country.
(Hindustan Times - Jan 23, 2015)
On his visit to India, US President Barack Obama will review first-hand the ‘might and right’ of the only (large) nation uniquely expected to have positive GDP growth in 2015, thanks to falling oil prices.
(Govt. of Karnataka, Jan 23, 2015)
Equal Opportunity Commission, to get Social Justice for everyone, who is economically backward, irrespective of their caste, creed or religion.