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Friday, 29 March 2013

Comparison of Gujarati Muslims' Progress with Muslims from Other States – A Baseline Study Using a New Metric (Preliminary Report)


Comparison of Gujarati Muslims' Progress with Muslims from Other States – A Baseline Study Using a New Metric

(Preliminary Report)

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Written by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, 29 March, 2013

Copyright © Dr. Seshadri Kumar.  All Rights Reserved.

For other articles by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, please visit http://www.leftbrainwave.com

You can reach me on twitter @KumarSeshadri.

Disclaimer: All the opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of Dr. Seshadri Kumar alone and should not be construed to mean the opinions of any other person or organization, unless explicitly stated otherwise in the article.

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Mr. Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat, has recently attracted worldwide attention with his convincing victory in Gujarat for the third time in state elections.  There have been calls from the lay public all over India for him to be declared the frontrunner for the post of prime minister in the event his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, wins in the 2014 elections.  A lot of this clamour is based on his tremendous success in developing his home state, Gujarat, and the tremendous progress and prosperity he has brought to his state.  Many Indians wish for the same model to be executed all over India.

Yet one fact seems to hinder Mr. Modi’s rise to the top, and that is the 2002 post-Godhra riots, where several hundred Muslims and Hindus lost their lives.  I have already discussed this event at length in another post, so I will not repeat my arguments here regarding that event.

For the purposes of this article, it is sufficient to mention that the post-Godhra riots are often claimed by media panjandrums to be evidence of Modi’s hatred for Muslims.  Modi, of course, has denied such allegations and points to the development work carried out in Gujarat – development that benefits both Hindus and Muslims.

When one has been in power for a long period of time, the ultimate test of whether he is antipathetic to a particular community is to see how that community has progressed under his leadership.  It is this aspect that I am trying to advance in this article.  The long-term progress of a community is more definitive in establishing intent than one particular or specific incident.

The Sachar Committee Report

For this purpose, I am utilizing the Sachar Committee Report, 2006.  The Sachar Committee was a committee formed by the Union Government of India to determine the latest social, economic, and educational status of Muslims in India.  The committee was headed by former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, Justice Rajinder Sachar, and included six other members.

Although the Sachar Committee Report is 7 years old today, it has very detailed data on the condition of the Muslim community, and is therefore very useful.  One drawback of this source of information as it pertains to evaluating Narendra Modi is that much of the Sachar report is based on the results of the 2001 census, when Modi had not yet taken power in the state of Gujarat; hence much of this information only provides a baseline as regards Mr. Modi.

Comparison Methodology

This is a preliminary report; and hence the analysis of the data is not comprehensive.  At the time of writing this article, I have only addressed one issue, viz., literacy.  One of the vital things that determines the progress of communities is the literacy rate of that community.  To that extent, I have analyzed the literacy and economic data provided in the Sachar report.

The Sachar report gives figures for overall literacy rate in the country, for individual literacy rates in each state of the Union, and community-wise breakups in the literacy rate, both in the country as a whole and in individual states.  The different communities for whom data is reported are Hindu, Muslim, SC/ST (Scheduled Castes and Tribes) and All Others.  One of the goals of the Sachar committee appears to have been to see how Muslims in India were faring at the time relative to SC/ST groups. (See Appendix Table 4.1 of the Sachar Report for details).

The Sachar report also gives detailed economic information on the different communities, specifically on Monthly Per-Capita Expenditure (MPCE) in Rupees per month, which is a measure of the standard of living.  The report details the MPCE in India as a whole, with breakups for Hindus, Muslims, SC/STs, and Others; similar breakups are available on a statewide basis.  This information is provided for both rural and urban populations in each state and in the Union as a whole (see Appendix Tables 8.2 and 8.3).

To complete the picture, the overall populations of different communities are given, so that one can understand how much of a given state’s population is urban and how much is rural.  Using this information, the overall weighted MPCE for a community can be obtained by correctly weighting the rural and urban MPCE values.

The ratio of the literacy percentage to the weighted MPCE is then taken.  This ratio, multiplied by 100, is what I refer to as the Income-Weighted Literacy Index (IWLI), and represents the amount of literary development weighted by the economic condition of that community or state.  This enables us to compare, for instance, a prosperous state like Gujarat with a much less prosperous state like Uttar Pradesh (the two states that have been chosen for comparison in this article). 

The IWLI recognizes that a poor state like UP cannot possibly have greater efforts expended on literacy at the cost of other developmental needs, when compared to a state like Gujarat.  The literacy outcomes in UP are therefore weighted by the per-capita expenditure in UP.  The same logic applies to different communities.  It is generally recognized (and is a conclusion of the Sachar report) that the Muslim community is by and large depressed in India, and performs poorly on all social indicators.  One should not, therefore, expect that the Muslim community should do as well or better than the majority Hindu community, which in general is more prosperous.  Hence, a literacy index which is weighted by the standard of living provides a basis for comparison.

In particular, what the same number means for two different groups with different standards of living is that the state has taken proportionate efforts to build development in both groups.  If, on the other hand, we find that the IWLI applied to two groups, one Hindu and another Muslim, in the same state, yields a higher number for the Hindu group and a lower number for the Muslim group, we can conclude that preferential treatment is given to the Hindus over the Muslims even after accounting for their relative prosperity.  It is a fact of life that prosperous groups will, in any case, fend for themselves and provide themselves with higher levels of literacy and other measures of progress; it is the depressed groups for which state help is often needed and their measures which provide a real indicator as to whether governance is effectively addressing their needs.

Results of the Preliminary Study

For the preliminary study, I have chosen two states, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, and of course the entire country of India as comparisons. 

U.P. has been chosen as the first state in the comparison because it has been governed for the longest time by either the current ruling party at the Centre, the UPA, or other parties like the Samajwadi Party (SP) or the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), parties that like to describe themselves as secular or as champions of the Muslim community.  It is therefore a baseline to see how states which are avowed supporters of Muslims are actually treating them.

Table 1 shows the results of the comparison study.  The reader is advised to focus on the columns and rows marked in yellow, as they represent the final result of the comparison.  He or she can review the other data provided in the table for confirmation and double-checking, even checking the Sachar report if s/he chooses to.

Table 1. Literacy Indicators in Gujarat, UP and the Whole of India

The final results show that India as a whole has an IWLI rating of 8.96, with ratings of 8.94 for Hindus and 9.47 for Muslims.  This indicates that the literacy outcomes for Muslims are better than that of Hindus, when their standard of living is taken into account, which indeed should be the case.  If the state had done a perfect job of making access to education the same, irrespective of income level, then both Hindu and Muslim communities should have the same literacy percentage, and the IWLI for the Muslim community should be higher than that of the Hindu community by the ratio of their MPCE values, i.e., by 727/623 =1.16, which would yield a value of 10.43.  That the value is only 9.47 indicates that the relative poverty of Muslims dooms them to a lower level of literacy.

We next consider the case of “prosperous” Gujarat, which has an overall rating of 8.07, an IWLI value of 7.89 for Hindus and an IWLI of 9.93 for Muslims.  Again, if both communities had the same literacy rate (which implies ideal governance), the IWLI for the Muslim community should be = 7.89*862/745 = 9.13.  Gujarat, therefore, with a value of 9.93 for Muslims, is performing better than ideal in this respect.

Lastly, we come to the case of Uttar Pradesh.  UP has an overall rating of 9.18, with a Hindu IWLI of 9.15, and a Muslim IWLI of 8.88.  Considering that the weighted MPCE values for Hindus and Muslims are 634 and 541 rupees respectively, the ideal IWLI value for UP would be, based on the Hindu IWLI value = 9.15*634/541 = 10.73.  That it is, in fact, only 8.88, indicates a serious underperformance of this state in this respect.

Conclusions

A new index, the Income-Weighted Literacy Index (IWLI) for measuring the literacy rate, taking into account the relative prosperity of a group, was proposed.  This index was applied to Hindu and Muslim groups in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, as well as the Republic of India as a whole, based on 2001 census data as reported in the Sachar committee report.

Based on this data, it is seen that the state of Gujarat outperforms both India as a whole and the state of Uttar Pradesh.  Further, it is seen that the weighted literacy index in Gujarat is even better than the ideal case if Muslims were to have the same literacy as Hindus.  Consequently, one can conclude that the Gujarat state government was (as of 2001) excelling in its governance of its Muslim subjects and enabling them to be part of an educated future.

India as a whole needs to do better from the point of view of literacy.  What comes out starkly in this study is how poorly the state of UP, which is home to 18% Muslims (as opposed to 9.1 % Muslims in Gujarat) is treating its own Muslim residents.  Even after accounting for the generally lower levels of prosperity in UP, this state has grievously failed its residents in governance (as measured by this indicator alone).

It should also be repeated that this was based on data only up to 2001.  From most accounts, Gujarat has progressed tremendously under Mr. Modi’s stewardship.  If a similar study were to be done with current data, one might be able to objectively assess the improvements in Gujarat under Mr. Modi.  Perhaps such a study can be done with the results from the 2011 census data.  The present report therefore is to be construed only as a baseline analysis.  I hope to get up-to-date data on these indicators soon and publish a second analysis.  This article is useful only in defining the methodology and knowing the baseline values.  It is notable that the literacy indicators for Gujarat, even in 2001 when Mr. Modi took over, are quite impressive.

And finally, this study considers only the literacy data.  Considerably more data is available in the Sachar committee report, and all of that can be mined to give a more multi-dimensional picture of development.  The data also needs to be compared across more than just two states to get a comprehensive picture of statewise development and the progress of the Muslim community.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Dr. Dhananjay Patankar for giving me the idea on weighting the literacy rate by the income level in some way, as a basis for comparing literacy rates in different groups with different levels of prosperity.





Friday, 22 March 2013

Go to Jail. Go Directly to Jail. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200.



The Denouement in the Sanjay Dutt Criminal Case

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Written by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, 22 March, 2013

Copyright © Dr. Seshadri Kumar.  All Rights Reserved.

For other articles by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, please visit http://www.leftbrainwave.com

You can reach me on twitter @KumarSeshadri.

Disclaimer: All the opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of Dr. Seshadri Kumar alone and should not be construed to mean the opinions of any other person or organization, unless explicitly stated otherwise in the article.

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On March 21, 2013, a 20-year-old legal case of national importance finally came to an end in the halls of the Supreme Court of India.  This was the well-known case of the 1993 Bombay serial blasts, in which 257 people lost their lives and 713 people were injured in a terrorist attack masterminded by Mumbai underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his associates.  

In the investigations that followed, the police unearthed links to many people, and one of the prime accused was Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt, who was found to have been in contact with the brother of Dawood Ibrahim in Dubai, Anees Ibrahim, and various other associates of Dawood; who was found to have possessed 3 AK-56 automatic rifles, 20 hand grenades, 9 magazines, 450 rounds of ammunition, and a 9 mm hand pistol, in his residence, before, during, and after the attacks; and who attempted to destroy the AK-56 rifles by having an accomplice melt the guns.

The case was prosecuted in Mumbai and, initially, the police interrogated Dutt with third-degree methods, which was to be expected from Indian police, given the depth of his involvement and the scale of the terrorist attacks.  However, due to the influence of his father Sunil Dutt, a popular member of parliament (MP) after his highly successful film career in Bollywood, and the help of many other rich and influential people, Sanjay Dutt managed to get bail after 18 months.

The TADA Court Verdict

With the case crawling through the infamously-slow Indian justice system, it took until 2007 for the special TADA (Terrorist And Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act) Court to pronounce its verdict on the 189 accused in the case, some of whom had died in the interim.  The court, very surprisingly, exonerated Sanjay Dutt of the charges of terrorism against him, but found him guilty of illegal possession of prohibited arms and sentenced him to six years of rigorous imprisonment.

That this itself was a travesty of justice can be clearly seen by reading the detailed Tehelka article on the 2007 verdict on Sanjay Dutt.  The article clearly details how:

1.       Sanjay Dutt was closely connected to Dawood Ibrahim’s brother, Anees Ibrahim, as phone records clearly show.
2.      Sanjay Dutt was clearly associated with many criminals and terrorists closely associated with Dawood Ibrahim’s gang, many of whom were convicted on terrorism charges by the same court.
3.      Sanjay Dutt had in his possession 3 AK-56s, 450 rounds of ammunition, 20 hand grenades, 9 magazines, and a 9 mm pistol.  Possession of just the 3 AK-56 rifles or the 20 hand grenades alone would have been sufficient to sentence him as a terrorist under the TADA act.  But the CBI, for reasons known only to them, chose to press less serious charges against him.
4.      Other accused in the case, whose involvement with Anees Ibrahim wasn’t even shown, who were less consequential second-level middlemen, and who did not even have in their possession similar quantities of arms, were sentenced under TADA, whereas Dutt was not.
5.      Sanjay Dutt had strong connections with the well-known associate of Dawood Ibrahim, Abu Salem, and there was clear documentary evidence linking the arms found in Sanjay Dutt’s possession to the cache of arms being smuggled around the country by Abu Salem.  The CBI chose to de-link Sanjay Dutt’s case from that of Abu Salem’s.
6.      Dutt, on knowing that the police was on his trail, asked accomplices to melt down the AK-56 rifles found at his place – a case of destruction of evidence.

Anyone else would have wept with joy and gratefully accepted this huge leniency of the justice system towards a criminal and a terrorist who should be behind bars for the rest of his life and, had he truly changed in the years after 1993 and regretted what he did, not oppose the sentence but immediately gone about serving it.

But not Sanjay Dutt.  He is among those who believes that the rich answer to a different law.  After all, this was the person who had many run-ins with the law during his youth on drug-related offenses, and gotten out of jail’s way mainly due to the influence of his rich and powerful father.  This, he probably felt, wasn’t anything different.

So he appealed his sentence in the Supreme Court.  He also moved bail in the Supreme Court, and in another shocking show of leniency (not shown to other co-accused) he was allowed to freely move about and pursue his profession of acting while his co-conspirators counted the bars in their jail cells.  Dutt continued to act in high-profile, money-making movies in the time he should have been serving his sentence while his co-conspirators continued to rot in jail.

Supreme Court Verdict of March 21, 2013

On March 21, 2013, the Supreme Court finally pronounced its verdict on all the appeals in the 1993 Bombay blasts case, bringing the case to a close.  The Supreme Court did not acquit Dutt, but commuted his sentence from 6 years to 5, with 18 months of that sentence treated as already served.  The court ordered Dutt to voluntarily surrender within 30 days.

The reaction of Mumbai’s film industry has been expectedly self-serving, cowardly, and bereft of any national spirit.  Many of them rushed to post tweets of sympathy for Dutt.  Many were concerned that their film projects would now be stalled because of the conviction.  But all this was expected.  Mumbai’s film industry is really the last place you would expect any sort of serious reaction to such matters.

The Hypocrisy of Markandey Katju

But what was not expected was a reaction in support of Dutt from, of all people, retired Supreme Court Justice and current Press Council of India Chairman Markandey Katju.  Justice Katju wrote an open letter to Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan asking him to pardon Sanjay Dutt.  The letter is such a cynical and unprincipled letter that had I not seen for sure that it had been penned by Justice Katju, I would not have believed it.

Katju appeals for leniency for Dutt on the grounds that

1.       His parents have done social service for the nation.
2.      He played the role of a Gandhi-lover in a film (“Lage Raho Munnabhai”).
3.      The event happened 20 years ago.
4.      Dutt has already suffered a lot because the trial took so long and everyone assumed he was a terrorist all these years.
5.      "He had to undergo various tribulations and indignities during this period. He had to go to court often, he had to take the permission of the court for foreign shootings, he could not get bank loans, etc."
6.      Govt. pardoned Commander Nanavati, who was guilty of murder, many years ago, and murder is a much more serious crime than possession of prohibited arms.

Is Katju serious??? Here are the problems (pointwise) with his nonsensical argument:

1.       Dutt's parents' social service has nothing to do with him.
2.      Dutt played a role in a movie as a Gandhi-lover. This has nothing to do with what he really is. It's just a role in a movie.  As one friend commented on facebook, by this logic, Ben Kingsley could not be convicted for anything anytime after playing Gandhi in the eponymous movie of 1982.
3.      When the event actually happened is irrelevant to the demands of justice. If a criminal commits murder or robs a bank and goes into hiding for 30 years, should he not be sentenced once found?
4.      If Dutt suffered a lot because of the long trial, so did all the other undertrials. Did they get off scot-free? Why this special treatment for Dutt?
5.      Any under-trial has to undergo all these inconveniences. The amazing thing is the amount of discretion and leniency shown to Dutt. How many others accused of such serious crimes would be allowed to go abroad, or allowed to make a handsome living making crores of rupees as a movie star while under investigation for such crimes? And it isn't that he was found innocent. How many of us ordinary Indians would be allowed all these privileges if we had been caught with an AK-56 and 20 hand grenades in our home?
6.      Each case is different. If Katju's argument were to be used, every convict who has been convicted of any jail sentence could ask for a presidential pardon because they didn't commit murder. This is an idiotic line of reasoning.

All this is highly unbecoming of a man who once held the August office of a Justice of the Supreme Court of India. Even an illiterate in law can tell that what he is asking is contrary to basic justice and equality under the law. If the principle of equality under the law is applied, then what applied to the other undertrials should have been applied to Dutt. That they haven't so far is already a travesty. Giving a pardon to Dutt would be a complete mockery of justice in India.

And it is odd that this is coming from a man who has been decrying the nonstop focus on celebrities and movie stars in this country and who has been arguing for a rational interpretation of the law. Katju has proved that he is not above anyone else in being starstruck and pandering to the basest instincts. He has also thereby lost the moral right to lecture the media on the way they are focused on celebrities and movie stars.

Concluding Thoughts

Sanjay Dutt committed a crime. He committed treason against the country.  He aided and abetted terrorists.  He got away on the very serious charges of terrorism because he had contacts in high places and because he was the son of a sitting MP with the ruling party.  But at least the TADA court convicted him on the lesser charge of illegal possession of prohibited arms.

He should pay for at least this crime the same way you or I would have to, had we been convicted of a similar crime. An ordinary Indian found in possession of an AK-56 rifle and 20 hand grenades would not have seen the outside of a jail for the last 20 years. Dutt has been allowed to roam free, make movies, travel abroad, live a generally grand life. In that sense, he has already been allowed more privileges than any of the rest of us have or will ever have been allowed.

It is time to stop this nonsense and enforce the idea of equality under the law.

Let him at least spend the next 3.5 years in jail serving a sentence of rigorous imprisonment.

And let us never again dignify the nonsensical pronouncements of a certain Justice Katju, who by his latest ramblings has completely lost credibility.