SEEMA CHISHTI, Indian Express, Friday, October 27, 2006
Sachar: Gujarat, Andhra, among states with more proportionate Muslim employment; Bengal, Bihar, UP at the bottom
New Delhi, October 26: Muslims across India are severely under-represented in government employment, including PSUs, compared to the percentage of their population in a state. While this may not appear unusual given the overall poverty and lack of education in the community, the startling fact is that this under-representation is also evident — sometimes in more stark a fashion — in states where the political establishment has made Muslim welfare a key part of its charter.
For example, West Bengal, which has had a three-decade uninterrupted Left Front government and where almost a quarter of the population is Muslim, has one of the lowest shares of Muslims in Government employment: just 4.2%. In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, too, the numbers of Muslims employed in the Government are dismal — less than a third of their share of population.
When it comes to Public Sector Units (PSUs), often discussed by parties as the “built-in economic safety net,” the figures are equally dismal. The highest percentage of Muslims in “higher positions” in state PSUs is in Kerala with 9.5 percent and the lowest is West Bengal which has reported 0 (zero) percent of Muslims in higher positions in state PSUs.
Gujarat, which has a record of communal tension, scores far better on both indices.
These are according to figures supplied by the state governments themselves to the Prime Minister’s high-level committee, the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee, which is working on a national survey of the social, educational and economic status of Muslims in India. The panel was scheduled to submit its report this month end but has asked for an extension and is expected to file it mid-November.
Sachar’s findings, obtained by The Indian Express, show that there is no state where the representation of Muslims matches with their population share.
Such figures, experts say, raise serious questions on the limits of “progressive politics.”
“If this data is any kind of a benchmark, this not only nails the myth of appeasement, it also shows that the politics of batting for Muslims is limited to providing security and safety, and it has been unable to go beyond simply protecting their civil right to life,” said a senior member of the Sachar committee. “States like West Bengal have provided physical security to Muslims or states like Bihar and UP have politically empowered the backward castes, including Muslims, but this isn’t translating to a level playing field when it comes to jobs or economic progress.”
Andhra Pradesh is the only state which shows representation that’s “fairly close,” but it’s still less than the population share in the state.
Three other states that show relatively more proportionate Muslim representation in state government jobs are:
• Karnataka (Muslim population share: 12.2%, share in jobs: 8.5)
• Gujarat (Muslim population share 9.1%, share in jobs: 5.4%)
• Tamil Nadu (Muslim population share: 5.6%, share in jobs: 3.2%)
All other states show the representation of Muslims in jobs is less than half of their population share.
Amongst all states which shared data with the Sachar panel, the highest percentage of Muslims employed in the government is in Assam: 11.2%. Ironically, this is still way below their 30.9% population share.
In Kerala, too, where literacy levels are high, 10.4% of state government employees are Muslim, but this is also less than half of the share of Muslims in the population of the state.
Maharashtra too has posted a low score with simply 1.9 percent Muslims in Higher Positions. Bihar and Karnataka have 8.6 per cent in higher positions in State PSUs and Gujarat 8.5 per cent, higher than most states, but still, not even fifty percent of the population share of Muslims.