Kerala and Gujarat have emerged as the top two states in India where poverty among Muslims in both rural and urban areas declined drastically in the last seven years, according to the National Sample Survey (NSS) statistics. The condition of Muslims in Maharashtra also improved in this period, but Uttar Pradesh and Bihar remained at the bottom of the list with the dubious distinction of having the most number of Muslims below poverty line.
In its front-page report headlined 'No country for Muslims', dna on Thursday quoted an interim report by the Amitabh Kundu-led committee which highlighted that the socio-economic condition of Muslims had not improved despite the implementation of welfare schemes since the acceptance of the Justice Sachar report in 2006. The Union government in August 2013 formed a 10-member committee to evaluate the socio-economic condition of the Muslim community since the implementation of the Sachar committee's recommendation.
The recent findings are part of a research paper by Dr Kundu, who analysed the state-wise NSS statistics. In rural Gujarat for instance, the number of Muslims below poverty line (BPL) fell from 31% (about one-third of their population) in 2004-05 to a measly 7% in 2011-12. Comparison of the same period reveals that those in the BPL population in urban areas also declined from 42% to 14.6%.
Meanwhile, the maximum per capita expenditure (MPCE – an indicator of economic well-being) of Muslims in rural Gujarat went up from Rs 209 to Rs 291. In urban areas of the state, it shot up from Rs 259 to Rs 328 in the last seven years, according to the research paper.
In Kerala, the decline was from 26.5% to 8% in rural areas and from 23.7% to 3.5% in urban areas. Muslims in 'God's own country' had one of the highest per capita expenditure across India in 2011-12 – Rs 365 in rural areas and Rs 420 in urban, an increase from Rs 303 and Rs 320 respectively in 2004-05.
The percentage of Muslims in the BPL category in Maharashtra fell from 47.9% in 2004-05 to 28.6% in 2011-12 in urban areas. The decline in rural areas was from 40% to 28.6% in the same period.
Dr Kundu confirmed to dna that his research paper will be included in the committee's final report which will be submitted to the Centre by June.
"I am neither a BJP supporter nor a Narendra Modi fan, but as far as the welfare of the Muslim community is concerned, the facts say that Gujarat did much better in the past seven years compared to other states," Dr Kundu, who recently retired from JNU, told dna. Abhay Pethe, professor of economy at the University of Mumbai, was guarded in his response. "We have observed the trend in the NSS data. Since the elections are round the corner, I would prefer not to comment on this," he said.
Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar still have a large percentage of the Muslim population below poverty line, the statistics reveal. In 2004-05, almost half of the Muslim population in UP was below poverty line. It came down to one-third in the last seven years. The change in the average MPCE of the community in UP in this period was little. It was the same in West Bengal and Bihar.
Goa and Nagaland are on top of the list when it comes to poverty eradication of Muslims. Seven years ago, more than one-third of their Muslim population was below poverty line; it was nil in 2011-12 in rural and urban areas. The rural areas of Pondicherry, Sikkim, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh also reported zero BPL population of Muslims. However, in urban areas, 10-20% of Muslims are still below poverty line. In MPCE, Andaman & Nicobar Islands tops the country in both urban (Rs 612) and rural (Rs 596) categories.