No respite from poverty for Muslims
Mains Paper 2: Education
Prelims level: Educational and economic indicators
Mains level: Issues relating to development and management of Social
Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) labour force
survey reports that the economic condition of Muslims does not show any
signs of improvement despite India being the fastest-growing large economy.
An analysis of the data on economic and educational
indicators for various religious groups reveals that Muslims are facing a
vicious circle of poverty.
Lowest education levels
The NSSO’s 68th round (2011-12) provides estimates of
education levels and job market indicators across major religious
communities in India.
The educational attainment of Muslims is the least among
all these communities. In urban areas, the number of male Muslim postgraduates
is as low as 15 per 1,000.
This number is about four times lower than that of other
communities, including Hindus, Christians and Sikhs.
The situation is similar for Muslim women.
The number of male graduates among Muslims is 71 per
1,000, less than even half the number of graduates (per 1,000) in other
Similarly, the number of Muslims educated up to the
secondary and higher secondary levels is 162 and 90 per 1,000 persons,
respectively, again the least among all the communities.
Important highlights of this poor achievement factors
Poor achievement at higher levels of education is
partly a reflection of sinilarly low levels of school education or of
Around half the Muslim population over 15 years is either
illiterate or has only primary or middle school education.
The number of illiterate people is highest among Muslims
(190 per 1,000), followed by Hindus (84), Sikhs (79) and Christians (57). The
number of persons (over 15 years) who have obtained just primary or middle
school education among Muslims is 257 and 198 (per 1,000 persons), respectively.
The distribution of the Muslim population is least at the
higher levels of education and highest at the lower levels of education.
The number of Muslim males of 5-14 years in urban areas
attending educational institutions is 869 per 1,000 persons, which is the least
among all religious groups.
It is higher among Christians (981), followed by Sikhs
(971), though it is lower among Hindus (955), possibly because Scheduled Castes
and Scheduled Tribes have lower rates.
The gaps in the current attendance rates of Muslims and
those of other religious groups are increasingly pronounced at higher age
That Muslims have the lowest attendance rates and
educational attainment, especially in higher education, can be explained by
their income level and higher costs for post-secondary education.
According to the NSSO survey, the average per capita
consumption expenditure (used as an indicator of income) among Muslims is just
₹32.66 per day, which is the least among all religious groups.
It is highest among Sikhs (₹55.30), followed by Christians
(₹51.43) and Hindus (₹37.50). As per the 71st NSSO survey on education (2014),
the average course fee for college degrees in technical courses in government
and private unaided institutions was ₹25,783 and ₹64,442, respectively.
That is too high for Muslims to afford, given their per
Labour force participation factor
The high level of illiteracy among Muslims and the low
levels of general education ensure that they are trapped in a vicious circle
The lack of higher education is adversely affecting their
job indicators. The dynamics of labour markets are largely a function of the
degrees of knowledge and skills.
The labour force participation rate (LFPR), defined as the
number of persons either employed or seeking jobs, is significantly linked to
the desire for work, which in turn is dependent upon educational attainment.
The quality of employment is strongly linked to levels of
education and skills.
Therefore, if a community is lagging in education, it
risks being trapped in a vicious circle of poverty.
This is a situation that is difficult to break out of
without government intervention.
The signs of Indian Muslims being caught in a vicious
circle of poverty are visible in terms of their low consumption expenditure and
poor job market indicators, including LFPR, employment status, and worker
The NSSO data show that LFPR among Muslims is 342 and 337
(per 1,000) in urban and rural areas, respectively, the least among all the
This implies that only 342 persons per 1,000 persons of
working age among Muslims in urban areas are employed or available for work.
The LFPR among Muslim women is worse than that among women
of other communities.
Muslims live predominantly in urban areas are where work
outside the home could be available, this low LFPR is likely explained by their
low levels of education.
The worker population ratio
The worker population ratio (WPR), defined as the
number of persons employed per 1,000 persons, is lowest among Muslims, both
in rural and urban areas.
The number of Muslims employed in regular jobs is only 288
per 1,000 employed persons, while the corresponding figure among urban Muslim
females is merely 249, which is the lowest among all other communities.
The number of regular employees per 1,000 employed persons
is higher among Christians (494 among urban males and 647 among urban females),
followed by Hindus (463 and 439), and Sikhs (418 and 482).
The proportion of households with their major source of
income from regular salaried jobs is the lowest among Muslims.
What could be done?
The Central and State governments could take concerted
steps to help Indian Muslims escape this vicious circle of poverty.
One way to improve their situation is to provide a special
incentive and subsidy system for higher education.
That will ensure that schoolgoing students continue to
higher levels of schooling and higher education.
The students who don’t wish to continue in general
academic education must have access to vocational education from Class 9
Q.1) NSSO uses which of the following indicators to measure economic
inequality amongst households?
(a) Level of unemployment
(b) Consumption expenditure
(c) Per capita income
(d) Average size of land holdings
Q.1) To what extent government intervention is required to improve educational
and economic indicators among Muslim community. Give your arguments in your
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