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)


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.

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.


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.


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.


  1. Great concept, Kumar!

    It would indeed be interesting to see if there has truly been an improvement by 2011 for Muslims beyond this high base in Gujarat... if yes, it would be such a phenomenal feat, that all other arguments against NaMo would easily fall by the way-side... I wonder if it is even possible, though!

  2. Good work Kumar but perhaps u misunderstood me. I had meant literacy OR income. What I meant was compare literacy or income of Muslims to Hindus. If the gap is more in one state vs another, then that state is not doing a good job of offering equal opportunity to the muslim community for it progress. That is a relatively simple measure compared ti your analysis.

    Coming to your article, the mention of loss of hindu and muslim lives in the riots is disingenuous. The ratio was 1:20 if not more skewed.

    The other thing is that 2001 is before Modi became CM so it represents the work of Guj govts before Modi, and may be now Modi is using these figures to show the great progress of Gujarat and thereby to stake claim to his suitability for PM, which is utterly wrong.

    1. Dhananjay,

      Perhaps I misunderstood what you were asking for, but I still think the measure I proposed has value. It's a way of saying how much progress has been made relative to the prosperity of a group or a state.

      The loss of Hindu and Muslim lives in the riots is based on Wikipedia figures. I don't have better references for the numbers. See in which the numbers are stated as 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus killed. If you have better and more reliable data, please give me the source and I will reference it. I am not being disingenuous. I just would like reliable sources when I make a statement. If you think it is 1:20 or worse, please let me know the reference and I will be happy to quote it.

      If you read my article carefully, I have stated multiple times myself that the data is of 2001 and only represents a baseline as far as Modi is concerned. To know about the effect of Modi's governance, I will need the data from the 2011 census. Unfortunately, at the rate govt. agencies work, the religion data for 2011 has not yet been released, so I cannot do the comparative analysis. If an online source is to be believed, it will "take several years" for the data to be released.

      The only data that has been released on the 2011 census are overall population, gender, sex ratio, and literacy (but not by religion). A first glance at the literacy data seems to indicate that Modi may have done well. Gujarat's overall literacy rate is 79% in 2011, and was 69% in 2001. While this seems impressive, it is no more impressive than India as a whole, which has gone from 65% in 2001 to 74% in 2011. The census also offers data on the gender gap in literacy, which I view as an important metric for progress. In this aspect, too, Gujarat is no better than the national average, with a whopping 17% gap in literacy between men (87%) and women (70%). The third aspect on which data is available is the sex ratio, on which Gujarat doesn't do very well. The national average on the number of women per 1000 men has risen from 933 in 2001 to 940 in 2011; in Gujarat, the number has declined from 920 to 918.

      So, to sum up: I have looked at the baseline for the values in Gujarat that existed in 2001. I think a quantitative measure of progress is the best way to determine if an administrator is being antipathetic to a community and have developed such a measure. I still haven't found enough data for the current state to know what the facts are. The available census data from 2011 do not yet suggest that Modi has worked wonders for Gujarat. I agree with you that if Modi is using the figures from the Sachar committee report as evidence of his government's progress, it is wrong. Kamla Beniwal, Gujarat's governor, recently (January 2013) made a statement citing facts from the Sachar committee report to praise Modi's government; and, as you point out, this is wrong, since it pertains to pre-Modi, 2001 data. (see

    2. Another article that references Sachar committee report data to show that Gujarat is progressing very well under Modi is this one:

      If you look at the data, all of it is based on Sachar committee data, which is pre-Modi and so cannot be attributed to him.

  3. You are being very careful and diligent in verifying information and drawing conclusions. Unfortunately most people do not do that. As you know, I am equally impressed by what Modi has done, but I am worried by the somewhat blind and unrestrained praise that is showered on him nowadays..

  4. People showed malicious satisfaction in denigrating Modi for almost a decade despite all his sincere attempts to develop Gujarat. Modi is admired not just because of what he did for Gujarat. For a person to boldly face all criticisms for 10+ years without getting frustrated and demotivated, still to continue focus on what his job is without lending ears to what critics talk about him, not to run behind media, one needs extraordinary courage and determination. If it were not for Modi, anybody would have gone for a political exile in such a situation. People who are jealous of the admiration that Modi gets and think he is getting undue praise, should remember that he has faced enough criticisms, more than what he actually deserved. There was not a single person to stand by Modi in those days. The reputation that Modi has now is purely because of his own sincere efforts for his state, despite all his critics' attempts to vilify him. That is what makes Modi different.


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