“Development” of Gujarat Muslims?

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi


Narendra Modi and his supporters have been challenging to fight this sixteenth Lok Sabha election on the issue of development and governance. It’s pathetic to see how neither media nor intelligentsia or political commentators of this country has not been cornering Modi over deteriorating condition of Muslims in Gujarat in development related field such as education, employment, health, etc. The conservatism of the current Gujarat government is visible most not only in case of their discriminatory policies against the Muslims on the issues related to religion or governance but also on economic issues.

Our concern here is not to find what the condition of Muslims of Gujarat at current time is but instead to find what really had happened to them in last ten years. Thus we need a comparative study of Muslims in Gujarat between the beginning and end of the last decade (2000s).

A comparative analysis of NSSO surveys for the year 1999-2000 and 2009-10 revealed that Muslims in Gujarat had experienced very little decline in absolute poverty. As per the Tendulkar definition of poverty line there were only 1.8 percentage points decline during the decade of Modi’s rule. Gujarati Muslim is marginally ahead of most of the Indian states and national average in terms of poverty reduction, but in past (during Pre-Modi Gujarat) they were much ahead of other communities.[1]In terms of MPCE Muslims’s position is worse than even SC and ST in Gujarat (also Bihar Bengal, Rajasthan, MP, WB). So is the situation in case of urban poverty among Muslims. It is not that the condition of all the minorities in Gujarat is in bad shape. Ironically poverty among other minorities (Christians and Parsi) of Gujarat is 0%.[2]

The same Sachar Committee report about which the supporters of Modi have often been seen quoting from in order to propagate the well being of Muslims in Gujarat, states that Gujarat is one among the states where the work participation rate/ratio of Muslims is lowest. In most of the state Muslims’ participation in manufacturing, trade and self-employment is higher than of other religious groups but it is not the case with Gujarat.[3] The ratio of self-employment in Gujarat is lesser than national average for both Hindu and Muslims but at least for the Muslims same was not the case in 1999-00.[4] In Gujarat, Self employment among Muslims in 1999-00 was much higher than among Hindus but by the end of decade the situation became totally opposite.[5]

In 2004-05 around 41% Muslims in Gujarat were involved in service sector which came down to 31.7% in 2009-10. In 2004-05, 59% Muslims were self-employed which came down to 53% while in case of salaried services the proportion of Muslims come down from 17.5% to 14% during the same period. It is also to be noted that Muslim share in causal labour increased from 23% to 32% during the same period.[6] This means, Muslims are repeatedly being marginalized in Gujarat in terms of better employment choices. They are being offered third grade unsecured and low wage employment. The total gap between Muslims and non-Muslims in terms of persons currently attending schools in the age group of 6-14 year is far more than national average. In 2001 when literacy rate (age above 7 Year)  in Gujarat was 69.1% the literacy rate of Muslims in Gujarat was at 73.5% but in 2007-08 when literacy rate of Gujarat went to 74.9% the literacy rate of Muslims in Gujarat remain at 74.3%.[7]

Without referring to age old Malthusian Trap of population increase, Gujarat’s CM blame fertility trends among Muslims for their backwardness. If that is so, how Gujarati Muslims were doing well before the coming of Modi into power? The fertility rate among Muslims is highest not in Gujarat but in Rajasthan, UP and Bihar. The differences between fertility rate of Muslims and Hindu in Kerala has been much higher than in Gujarat but their condition is better in other parameter of development. The popularity of contraceptives among Muslims in Gujarat is only 1 % below than of Hindus.[8] Muslim’s Participation in Sterilisation and IUD is slightly more than their ratio to population.[9] At least in Gujarat, Modi cannot blame the Madarsa education for the bad performance of Muslims in field of education because the popularity of Madrasa education is least among Muslims of Gujarat.[10]

The real causes for the deteriorating condition of Muslims in Gujarat are the consistent policies of Government of Gujarat. Muslims constitute about 9.7 % of the poor population in Gujarat but share of Muslims in most Government’s welfare schemes (for poor’s) is below their ratio to total population. Their share is satisfactory only in SJSRY and NSAP schemes.[11] Under Krishi Bima Yojana Muslims got only 3.5% of total allocation. Only 1.4% of total allocated power tiller; and 4.1% of total allocated tractor were in the Muslims. Not a single loan from co-operative department or from Rural Development Department has been disbursed to Muslims in Gujarat.[12].

The contribution of Gujarati Muslims in forming Thrift, Credit Societies; and micro enterprises is more than double of their ratio to population but their participation in training given (5.5%) for unemployed is less than their ratio to their population. Only 4.5% of total lands allocated for the construction of houses, meant for the weaker section of society, were given to the weaker section among Muslim. In contrast to that they got 13.9% of benefits in national family benefit scheme run by central government.[13] Muslim has 12.4% of total bank accounts in Gujarat but the loan amount disbursed to them is only 2.6%.[14] Individual deposit per account in scheduled commercial banks by Muslims is almost 20% higher than of Hindus. Despite that disbursement of loan to Muslims is less than loan dispersed to Hindu. Under SIDBI scheme the sanction of amount to Muslims is only 0.44 crore out of total sanctioned amount of 3133.77 crore during 2000-01 and 2005-06. Similarly the Refinance by NABARD to Muslims in Gujarat is only 1.7% of the total amount during 2004-05 and 2005-06[15].

Based on the figures of Sachar Committee Report, Modi is claiming that the situation of Muslims in Gujarat is much better than West Bengal. Modi is right in his facts and figures. But it should also be noted that United Nations has observed that in terms of the poverty head count ratio for Muslims, the rank of Gujarat is fourth in India.When we compare the conditions of Muslims or any other community in two or more states we should first look into the historicity of that community in particular state. If we can refer to Medieval History, Gujarati Muslims till recent period were one of the most vibrant business communities of the world. Remember the Bohras and Menons? If we compare those with that of landless Muslims of medieval Bengal province who were converted to Islam because of their poverty,[16] it will be obvious to believe that the situation of Muslim in contemporary West Bengal cannot be expected to be better than ST/SC Hindus because there is hardly much difference in terms of practice of casteism among Hindu and Muslim.


Sanjeev Kumar is a writer and theatre activist. He is one of the founding members of Jagriti Natya Manch which consist students from various universities of Delhi.  

[1] Times of India, 16 May 2012.

[2] Sachar Committee Report 2005-06, pp 155 & 158-9

[3] Sachar Committee Report 2005-06, p 102, App 5.5 & pp 105-6

[4] 55th Round of NSSO, p 43 & 66th round of NSSO, p 59

[5] Sachar Committee Report 2005-06, p 343

[6] Atul Sood, Povery amidst prosperity: Trajectory of Development in Gujarat, 2012, p 268, Table 8.19

[7] Atul Sood, 2012, p 270, Table 9.9

[8] Sachar Committee Report 2005-06, pp 284-85

[9] Sachar Committee Report 2005-06, pp 374

[10] Sachar Committee Report 2005-06, p 293

[11] Sachar committee Report, 2005-06p 178

[12] Sachar Committee Report 2005-06, pp 373-5

[13] Sachar Committee Report 2005-06, pp 373-5

[14] Sachar Committee Report 2005-06, p127 & (Ministry of Minority Affairs, MMA, GOI, 2011-12)

[15] Sachar Committee Report 2005-06, pp 351-53

[16] See Richard Maxwell Eaton, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760

The Kashmir Walla needs you, urgently. Only you can do it.

We have always come to you for help: The Kashmir Walla is battling at multiple fronts — and if you don’t act now, it would be too late. 2020 was a year like no other and we walked into it already battered. The freedom of the press in Kashmir was touching new lows as the entire population was gradually coming out of one of the longest communication blackouts in the world.

We are not a big organization. A few thousand rupees from each one of you would make a huge difference.

The Kashmir Walla plans to extensively and honestly cover — break, report, and analyze — everything that matters to you. You can help us.

Choose a plan as per your location