SEEMA CHISHTI, Indian Express
November 24, 2006
NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 23: Tracking the poor representation of Muslims in virtually every sector, the Sachar Committee, in its report to the Prime Minister, has uncovered a more worrying trend: in the IIMs and IITs, laboratories of India’s growth story, Muslim students make only 1.3 per cent and 1.7 per cent (about 4 per cent in the higher stages) respectively.
Data collected by the Committee from five IIMs for 2004-05 and 2005-06 puts the Muslim count at 1.3 per cent or 63 in a total of 4743 students. The Committee did not have the socio-religious break-up of the number of students who take the Common Admission Test (CAT) since no such data is collected. But on the basis of data available for all levels of the examination — the written test, the interview that follows and the group discussion — the Committee has concluded that while the success rate for Muslim candidates is better than those for other communities (a strike rate of “one out of three”) yet, in the final list, only 1.3 per cent of those who make it are Muslims.
As far as the IITs go, of the existing 27,161 IITians, “only 894 are Muslims.” At the under-graduate level, only 1.7 per cent are Muslim. Though the percentage gets better at the higher stages — about 4 per cent — it’s still lower than their population share. The share of Muslims in PhD courses is somewhat better than that for other courses.
In its report, the Committee concludes that “apparently, Muslims are able to compete better when they complete their graduation.”
Educationist Anil Sadgopal says he is “not surprised at the low figures for Muslims”.
“I am sure the figures for Dalits and tribals are in the same range. With a high drop-out rate for Dalits, tribals and Muslims, how will they ever reach the level of being able to compete for seats in elite institutions like these? When only 5-6 per cent of school-going Dalits and tribals reach Class XII, with Muslims being in the same range, how will a decent percentage of these make it to elite lists? The problem is the lack of a good and equitable school system. If that’s not rectified, then most Muslims, Dalits or tribals will get filtered out at the school level itself,” says Sadgopal.
Experts also say that lack of diversity in classrooms generally makes the quality of learning poorer for even those who make the list. Dr Madan Jha, Secretary, HRD in Bihar with a doctorate from Oxford on the subject of diversity in classrooms, says “research proves that diverse classrooms, reflecting diversity of all kinds — socio-economic groups, abilities, religions, castes and communities — make for better learning environments, everyone learns better if the class is more diverse. So, if even elite schools are the preserve of students with just one kind of profile, it doesn’t help them either.”
As already reported by The Indian Express, as far as school enrolment goes, data with this committee showed that Muslims were falling behind levels attained by SC/STs. But this data on elite educational institutions confirms the trend of Muslims not having been able to catch up or get onto opportunities in the new India.