Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

[op-ed snap] No respite from poverty for Muslims


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre & States & the performance of these schemes

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), labour force participation rate (LFPR), worker population ratio (WPR)

Mains level: Need of Muslim empowerment in terms of education and employment


Muslims still face poverty

  1. 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
  2. An analysis of the data on economic and educational indicators for various religious groups reveals that Muslims are facing a vicious circle of poverty

Education level amongst Muslims

  1. The NSSO’s 68th round (2011-12) provides estimates of education levels and job market indicators across major religious communities in India
  2. The educational attainment of Muslims is the least among all these communities
  3. In urban areas, the number of male Muslim postgraduates is as low as 15 per 1,000
  4. This number is about four times lower than that of other communities, including Hindus, Christians and Sikhs
  5. The situation is similar for Muslim women
  6. 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 communities
  7. Poor achievement at higher levels of education is partly a reflection of similarly low levels of school education or of illiteracy

Reasons for low education rate

  1. The lowest attendance rates and educational attainment amongst Muslims, especially in higher education, can be explained by their income level and higher costs for post-secondary education
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. That is too high for Muslims to afford, given their per capita income
  5. Although children up to age 14 have a right to free and compulsory education, the average course fee per student for upper primary education is still ₹508 for the academic session
  6. The higher burden of the cost of education among Muslims, relative to their incomes, could be one of the factors responsible for their lowest attendance rates

What does a low level of education lead to?

  1. The high level of illiteracy among Muslims and the low levels of general education ensure that they are trapped in a vicious circle of poverty
  2. The lack of higher education is adversely affecting their job indicators
  3. The dynamics of labour markets are largely a function of the degrees of knowledge and skills
  4. For example, 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
  5. Similarly, the quality of employment is strongly linked to levels of education and skills

Data shows that Muslims have fewer jobs

  1. 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 population ratio
  2. 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 religious communities
  3. This implies that only 342 persons per 1,000 persons of working age among Muslims in urban areas are employed or available for work
  4. Given that Muslims live predominantly in urban areas (unlike other poorer communities like SCs/STs), where work outside the home could be available, this low LFPR is likely explained by their low levels of education
  5. Likewise, 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

Steps that can be taken

  1. The Central and State governments could take concerted steps to help Indian Muslims escape this vicious circle of poverty
  2. One way to improve their situation is to provide a special incentive and subsidy system for higher education
  3. That will ensure that schoolgoing students continue to higher levels of schooling and higher education
  4. Similarly, students who don’t wish to continue in general academic education must have access to vocational education from Class 9 onwards
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