Comparison of Gujarati Muslims' Progress with Muslims from Other States – A Baseline Study Using a New Metric
Written by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, 29 March, 2013
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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.
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.