Gender inequality, economic participation, education, workers, regional analysis
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Gender inequality, economic participation, education, workers, regional analysis.

Gender inequality, economic participation, education, workers, regional analysis.

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Gender inequality, economic participation, education, workers, regional analysis Gender inequality, economic participation, education, workers, regional analysis Document Transcript

  • Md. Mainuddin 82 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 ISSN 0975 – 5942 Vol.II(2), July-December 2010, pp.82-104 Visit: http://www.socialsciences-ejournal.org © International Society for Asia-Pacific Studies (ISAPS), www.isapsindia.org Understanding Reality: Population Growth, Distribution and Educational Status of Indian Muslims Md. Mainuddin Research Fellow, Department of Sociology Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi Email: mainuddin.soc@gmail.com Abstract Population is a dynamic phenomenon that varies spatio- temporally. Rapid growth of population over the past hundred years results from the gap between birth rate and death rate. Population growth becomes a threat to socio-economic well-being of human beings, and is more vulnerable where the group is already socio- economically underprivileged. Though, population growth has its positive impact on economic development. West Bengal occupies the third position among states of the country in terms of percentage of Muslim population (i.e. 25%). The present study aims to analyse the population distribution and educational status of the community in the districts of West Bengal. The analysed data show that Muslims are not uniformly distributed in all districts of the state. Moreover, Muslims of West Bengal are largely rural community in comparison to their coreligionists in other parts of the country. This means that Muslims of West Bengal are less urbanized. There are only two districts where Muslims constitute more than fifty percent population. Lower literacy rate and educational attainment is the overall characteristic of the Muslim in India in general and Muslim of West Bengal in particular. The paper proves with the percentage of Muslim population increases in a district the literacy and educational attainment decreases. Finally, the estimates of population growth, population distribution and educational attainment computed in this paper will contribute in providing an empirical basis to the debates in this regard objectively. Keywords: Muslims, Population, Distribution, Educational Backwardness
  • Md. Mainuddin 83 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 Introduction The 21st century has been seen unprecedented growth of human population on this planet. Population growth is one of the problems in present society and most of the groups propagate the population growth. In the history of human demography, it has been seen that in earlier time high population growth is a natural phenomenon due to low level of technological advancement and high mortality leads to high fertility. But with the technological advancement population growth is declining world over and in India as well. In recent past Muslim population growth became an issue of national debate in India. Muslims constitute the largest minority community in India with 14 per cent population at the end of 2001 census. They are not only the largest minority community, but their presence is visible in all the states and union territories. This largest minority community has been relegated to the lowest socio-economic stratum in the post-independent India. Though India in recent year has achieved economic development but influence of this economic development is not uniformly distributed across the religious community and across region. According to Marxian theory economy is an important factor which influence on the other factor and education is one of them. Education is both an indicators and an instrument of development. Education plays a crucial role in increasing labour productivity in both urban and rural areas. Economic returns to investment in education are typically high has been documented by Human Capital School (Schultz, 1961). Muslims economic backwardness has profound impact on their education. Whereas, West Bengal occupies third position among various states and union territories of the country in terms of percentage of Muslim population (i.e. 25 per cent) after Jammu & Kashmir (67 per cent) and Assam (30 per cent). Instead of this large number of Muslim population in West Bengal they are educationally most backward, economically poor and politically a powerless community (Mainuddin, 2008). This social, economic and educational backwardness of Muslims is not merely confirmed by the individual researchers and surveys of voluntary organizations but also by Committees of Government. The High Power Panel under the chairmanship of Dr. Gopal Singh, set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs in the early 1980 to enquire into social and economic conditions of the Indian minorities, they found Muslims are backward (GOI, 1983). After 25 years, again this is
  • Md. Mainuddin 84 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 evident from the findings of the Prime Minister’s High Level Committee under the chairmanship of Justice Rajinder Sachar, constituted to enquire into socio-economic and educational status of Muslims (Sachar, 2006). Even where Muslims constitute more than half of the district population, they are educationally most backward community. The reports also identified the failure of the state to provide adequate educational infrastructure in Muslim dominated areas as a supply side constraint to improving educational status of Muslims. Objectives The main focus of the study is on West Bengal, India, since (a) West Bengal is the third largest Muslim majority states in the country, (b) Politically a secular state is maintained by the Left Front Government from last more than 3 decades with its electoral manifesto emphasizes upliftment of excluded section of the population. The main objectives of the study are i) examine the trend of Muslim population growth and related debate ii) estimate distribution of Muslim population in the districts and across the residence iii) to measure the literacy rate in Muslim concentration districts iv) calculate district wise literacy rate and educational attainment Data and Methodology The paper used only the districts and state religious data of census of India 2001. Standard statistical techniques have been used to analyze the secondary information obtained from census of India 2001 and other available sources. Simple percentage method has been used to show decennial growth rate of population and share of community wise population in the study area. Literacy rate and educational attainment is also calculated. To show the relation between population concentration and literacy rate of Substantial Muslim Population (SMP) districts has been sorted. Census of India 2001, reports 80, 22,171 million population and area of 88, 752 sq. km of West Bengal. Thus the population density in the state is 904 persons per sq. km. Out of its total population 41,465,985 (51.72%) million are male and 38,710,212 (48.28%) are female. Hence the average sex ratio of the state is 934, one point more than national average. West Bengal is predominantly
  • Md. Mainuddin 85 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 a state of villages since 57,748,946 (71.98%) million population is living in rural areas whereas remaining dwell in cities and towns. Religion Wise Distribution of Population in West Bengal Out of the total state population 5,81,04,835 (72.47%) million are Hindus; While Muslims constitutes 2,02,40,543 (25.24%) million population of the state. Hence, remaining population of 18,30,819 (2.28%) million is constituted by other religious communities like Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Others and Religion not stated. Population Growth: Myth and Reality The census has generally enjoyed an excellent reputation because for the first time census of India 2001 provides religion data in post- independent India. But they did an elementary mistake in computing growth rates across religious communities generated a bit flutter in political arena. The debate centered on Hindu-Muslim population growth in relative terms is misleading without using the religion crudely as an explanatory variable across religion (Jeffery & Jeffery, 2000). Whereas this was the crisis for the one community many of the communal political leaders and communal organisation take the issue to make their right vote bank and use the issue to instigate the ideology of communal hatredness which is undemocratic in the largest democracy of the world. Communal violence is sometime is the result of retaining this type of ideology. In a press release of census data on religion on September 6, 2004, it was reported very high growth rate among Muslims for the decade 1991-2001. Use of the 1991 population figures, without Jammu and Kashmir, where the 1991 census was not conducted, in conjunction with the 2001 population figures for the entire country, including Jammu and Kashmir, created an impression of an unusually high growth, 36 per cent, among Muslims, against 20.3 per cent for Hindus, as shown in the census tables (Registrar General 2004: statement 1a). Correspondingly, the percentage share of the Hindu population appeared to have declined sharply through the decade, from 82 per cent in 1991 to 80.5 per cent in 2001 and that of the Muslim population to have risen from 12.1 per cent to 13.4 per cent. The census organisation soon presented ‘adjusted’ figures after excluding Assam (where the 1981 Census was not conducted) and Jammu and Kashmir, and these showed that the growth for Muslims was 29.3 per cent and not 36 per cent. In this regard, Kulkarni and Premi calculated the data and reported that in India the 1991-2001 growth
  • Md. Mainuddin 86 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 for Muslims was 29.5 per cent (and not 36 per cent) and for Hindus, 19.9 per cent. They further added that the share of Muslims increased by less than one percentage point, 12.6 per cent of total population to 13.4 per cent. Clearly, though the growth rate of the Muslim population has been higher than that of the Hindu (as well as average) population, the gap is not as large as initially noted…among the major communities, Muslims have been growing at a higher rate than average and, especially since 1971, the growth rate of the Muslim population has been higher than that of all other major religions of India (Kulkarni & Manoj, 2005, Premi, 2004). It is evident that population growth is higher for Muslims in India. But this growth becomes a problem of a community if the community is already socio- economically backward. This trend of population growth pushes the community in more poverty and brings many other problems. But rate of population growth is declining in the intervening period gives some relief to the community as it prevents majority to appease the Muslims. One of the remarkable features of the census figures in West Bengal for 2001 is the widely varying population growth rate over the past decade. Table-1: Religion Wise Population growth Rate in West Bengal Source: Census of India 2001 Note: Computed by the author Census year Total Population Buddhist Christian Hindu Jain Muslim Sikh Other Religion 2001 80176197 243364 515150 58104835 55223 20240543 66391 895796 1991 68077965 203578 383477 50866624 34355 16075836 55392 452403 1981 54580647 156296 319670 42007159 38663 11743259 49054 263414 1971 44312011 121504 251752 34611864 32203 9064338 35084 194126 1961 34926279 112253 204530 27523358 26940 6985287 34184 38610 1951 24810308 81576 175021 19462706 19116 4925496 29864 114910 Decadal Growth Rate 2001 17.77 19.54 34.34 14.23 60.74 25.91 19.86 98.01 1991 24.73 30.25 19.96 21.09 -11.14 36.89 12.92 71.75 1981 23.17 28.63 26.98 21.37 20.06 29.55 39.82 35.69 1971 26.87 8.24 23.09 25.75 19.54 29.76 2.63 402.79 1961 40.77 37.61 16.86 41.42 40.93 41.82 14.47 -66.40 1951 - - - - - - - -
  • Md. Mainuddin 87 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 Table 1 gives religion wise population growth from 1951 to 2001. In the year 1991-2001, the highest population growth is found among the Jains (60.74%) and lowest among Hindus (14.23%). Among the Muslims the population growth rate is 25.91% in the year 1991-2001 but the interesting fact is that the trend is declining as compare to the Muslim population growth in between 1981-1991 that was 36.86%. This important finding denies the allegations of high population growth among Muslims as a whole. In West Bengal though it is relatively high but the trend of population growth is declining. In many other states also Muslim population growth rate is declining. Moreover, Premi found that the ‘decline is evident in large number of states. It is noteworthy that it was below 20 per cent in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu during the 1990s. It seems that this has been largely due to adoption of family planning measures. The growth rate has, however, been high in Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. This might be due to large-scale migration of Muslims to these areas. This hypothesis needs detailed probing especially with district level migration data. With Muslim growth rate of more than 80 per cent during the past 20 years in Delhi, one has to look at the possibility of large- scale Bangladeshi migration into the capital’ (Premi, 2004: 4299). In summary the above study attribute that in many Indian state Muslim population growth is declining especially in South India. The study also finds the use of contraception and adoption of the family planning among the Muslims at large. Population growth of the community is not always the result of their intention to have a larger family size rather it is the result of poor socio-economic condition, poverty, illiteracy etc. Orthodox religious faith not to use contraceptive as a birth control measure in the society some time leads to high fertility. In addition, the existing poverty within the community results in higher population growth not only within the Muslim community but also among the other communities in India. Education is another determining factor of population growth. As education level increases the family size decreases, there is inverse relationship between education and family size. In other words as the education level increases the fertility rate decreases. As education among Muslim women is low hence the family size increases. Another argument is that most of the Muslims living in rural areas in West Bengal as well as in India and it is a reason for low level of family planning acceptors. But recently there
  • Md. Mainuddin 88 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 is positive change in the morphology of family planning as there is increase in the contraceptive use. Low level of autonomy among Muslim women is one of the most important obstacles to access the family planning methods but the scenario is changing in past few decades. Among all the states in India, West Bengal ranks second only to Himachal Pradesh in contraceptive use (NFHS-3, 2005-06, p7). Of course being a largest minority (25%) group in the state, Muslims role in achieving this rank could not be neglected. In West Bengal ‘contraceptive prevalence in urban areas (76%) is 6 percentage points higher than in rural areas (70%). Muslim women are less likely to use contraception (61%) than Hindu women (75%). Although contraceptive use varies little by education, it increases with wealth from 65 percent among women in the lowest wealth quintile to 78 percent among women in the highest wealth quintile (NFHS-3, 2005-06: 7-8). NFHS data proves that education and wealth are important determinant of frequency of contraceptive use. While both education and wealth among Muslim women in West Bengal is low. Instead of these odds Muslims population growth shows declining trend in the state. In addition to it they are largely rural community in West Bengal unlike their counterparts in rest of the country. The above set of factors justifies less use of contraception among the Muslims. Distribution of Muslim Population West Bengal occupies third position among various states and union territories of the country in terms of percentage of Muslim population. The largest percentage of Muslim population is found in Jammu and Kashmir (67%) followed by Assam (30%). However, Muslims are not evenly distributed in all the districts of the state. There are ten districts of state in which Muslims have million plus population. Districts of the state are arranged in descending order in terms of the percentage of Muslim population. This is presented in the following table 2.
  • Md. Mainuddin 89 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 Table-2: Districts are arranged in Terms of Descending Order of Muslim Population S.No Districts Total Population Muslim Per cent (%) West Bengal 80176197 2021171 25.23 1 Murshidabad 5866569 3735380 63.67 2 Maldah 3290468 1636171 49.72 3 Uttar Dinajpur 2441794 1156503 47.36 4 Birbhum 3015422 1057861 35.08 5 South 24 parganas 6906689 2295967 33.24 6 Nadia 4604827 1170282 25.41 7 Haora 4273099 1044383 24.44 8 Koch Bihar 2479155 600911 24.23 9 Noth 24 parganas 8934286 2164058 24.22 10 Dakshin Dinajpur 1503178 361047 23.93 11 Kolkata 4572876 926769 20.05 12 Bardhaman 6895514 1364133 19.78 13 Hugli 5041976 763471 15.14 14 Medinipur 9610788 1088618 11.35 15 Jalpaiguri 3401173 369195 10.85 16 Bankura 3192695 239722 7.5 17 Purulia 2536516 180694 7.12 18 Darjeeling 1609172 85378 5.3 Source: Census of India, 2001 Note: Calculated by author It is evident from the above table that the highest concentration of Muslim population is found in the district of Murshidabad and their lowest percentage in the district of Darjeeling. Out of 18 districts (19th district was created after census of India 2001 i.e., Mednipur was divided into two districts East Mednipur and West Mednipur) there are six districts in which percentage of Muslim population is more than the state average (25.24%). These districts are Murshidabad, Malda, Uttar Dinajpur, Birbhum, South 24 Parganas and Nadia. In rest of the districts where Muslims form 5% or more but less than the state average are Haora, Kuch Bihar, North 24 Parganas, Dakshin Dinajpur, Kolkata, Bardhaman, Hugli, Mednipur, Jalpaiguri, Bankura, Purilia and Darjeeling. The table also indicates that there are three districts namely Murshidabad, Malda and Uttar Dinajpur may be called ‘Muslim Concentration District’ as they constitute about half of the Muslim population of the districts. This data give us the impression that Muslims are unevenly distributed in various districts of the state.
  • Md. Mainuddin 90 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 Rural-Urban Population Unlike other parts of the country percentage of Muslim population in the state is more in villages than towns and cities. Of the total Muslim population in the state 83.22% are living in villages. If we compare percentage of rural Muslims with that of Hindus in the state we find Hindus are more urbanized or less rural than Muslims because of 67.82% Hindu population of the state are living in rural areas. Distribution of rural-urban Muslim population in the district of W.B is presented in the following table 3. Table-3: District Wise Distribution of Rural/Urban Muslim population in West Bengal Sl. No State/ Districts Rural % Urban % Total West Bengal 16845034 83.22 3395509 16.78 20240543 1 Darjeeling 59808 70.05 25570 29.95 85378 2 Jalpaiguri 337324 91.37 31871 8.63 369195 3 Koch Bihar 580777 96.65 20134 3.35 600911 4 Uttar Dinajpur 1132025 97.88 24478 2.12 1156503 5 Dakshin Dinajpur 359482 99.57 1565 0.43 361047 6 Malda 1609596 98.38 26575 1.62 1636171 7 Murshidabad 3424659 91.68 310721 8.32 3735380 8 Birbhum 1012468 95.71 45393 4.29 1057861 9 Bardhaman 1019138 74.71 344995 25.29 1364133 10 Nadia 1124308 96.07 45974 3.93 1170282 11 North 24 Parganas 1711861 79.1 452197 20.9 2164058 12 Hugli 582518 76.3 180953 23.7 763471 13 Bankura 228827 95.46 10895 4.54 239722 14 Purulia 154137 85.3 26557 14.7 180694 15 Mednipur 964441 88.59 124177 11.41 1088618 16 Haora 549687 52.63 494696 47.37 1044383 17 kolkata 0 0 926769 100 926769 18 South 24 Parganas 1993978 86.85 301989 13.15 2295967 Source: Census of India, 2001 Note: Computed by the author
  • Md. Mainuddin 91 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 The above table reveals that there are nine districts where the highest concentration of rural Muslim is found and its percentage lies in between 90-100%. These districts are Jalpaiguri, Koch Bihar, Uttar Dinajpur, Dakshin Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad, Birbhum, Nadia and Bankura. Out of remaining 9 districts, there are three districts having rural Muslim population in between 80-90% and these districts are South 24 Parganas, Mednipur and Purulia. Another four districts where the rural population constitutes in ranges between 70-80% and these districts are Darjeeling, Bardhaman, North 24 Parganas and Hugli. In Haora the percentage of rural Muslim population is 52% is lowest among all the districts. Whereas the percentage of rural population in Kolkata is 0% as it is a metropolitan city of the state. Of the total Muslim population, 33,95,509 lakh or 16.78% lives in urban areas. While 18,697,851 lakh or 32.18% Hindus are living in urban areas. It is also evident from the above table that out of 18 districts they have not significant urban population in any one of these districts. In all districts their urban percentage is less than 30%. The highest urban concentration of Muslims is in the district of Kolkata i.e. 100% and lowest in Dakshin Dinajpur i.e. 0.43%. There are four districts in which their percentage lies in between 20-30% and these districts are Darjeeling, Bardhaman, Norh 24 Parganas and Hugli. In remaining twelve districts their urban population is less than 20% and these districts are Jalpaiguri, Koch Bihar, Uttar Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad, Birbhum, Nadia, Bankura, Purulia, Mednipur and South 24 Parganas. Though Muslims constitute 16% population in urban areas of West Bengal they are largely concentrated in slums areas and engaged in menial works. In this regard M.K.A. Siddiqui notes that “a comparatively higher percentage of Muslims in urban areas may be explained on the basis of their culture allowing mobility and less inhibited contact as also the ‘push’ factor, but despite the fact that they constitute the back bone of urban economy, their share in prosperity remains marginal” (Siddiqui, 1998: 1). This is not at all a positive indicator for the proper presentation of rural-urban Muslims in West Bengal. It can be inferred from the preceding discussion that urbanization rate of Muslims in West Bengal is very low. This is contrary to the trend
  • Md. Mainuddin 92 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 which is found among Muslims in other parts of the country. Since the rural areas of West Bengal are not properly developed, socio- economic condition of Muslims in West Bengal is bound to be poor. Hence, Muslims in West Bengal are largely engaged in agricultural activities and they did not found education for their children fruitful because their poor socio-economic condition. Educational Status The educational lag among Indian Muslims is well documented in various research studies and government reports. Muslims in India are educationally backward instead of the provisions to impart education among citizen of India across ethno- religious lines as enshrined in the land of law. National Human Development Report 2001 spells out importance of education. It states that “Education, in the present day context, is perhaps the single most important means for individuals to improve personal endowments, build capability levels, overcome constraints and, in the process, enlarge their available set of opportunities and choices for a sustained improvement in well-being. It is not only a means to enhance human capital, productivity and, hence, the compensation to labour, but it is equally important for enabling the process of acquisition, assimilation and communication of information and knowledge, all of which augments a person’s quality of life. Education is important not merely as means to other ends, but it is an attribute that is valued in itself, by most individuals. More importantly, it is a critical invasive instrument for bringing about social, economic and political inclusion and a durable integration of people, particularly those ‘excluded’, from the mainstream of any society” (NHDR 2001: 48). The educational level among the people of all segments in the society is not equal. There is a remarkable gap in education among various groups in Indian society. Muslims of India is most educationally backward community and it has been analyzed by various commission formed by the government of India from time to time. In 1980s a high powered panel headed by Dr. Gopal Singh was appointed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, reported that two of the religious groups of the country i.e. Muslims and Neo-Buddhists are found most educationally backward at national level (GOI, 1983). After 25 years, Muslims are again found to be the most educationally backward community of the country by
  • Md. Mainuddin 93 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 the Prime Minister’s High Level Committee under the chairmanship of Justice Rajinder Sachar. Few findings of the Committee are worth important to be quoted here: “Muslims are at a double disadvantage with low levels of education combined with low quality education; their deprivation increases manifold as the level of education rises. In some instances the relative share for Muslims is lower than even the SCs who are victims of a long standing caste system. Such relative deprivation calls for a significant policy shift, in the recognition of the problem and in devising corrective measures, as well as in the allocation of resources” (Sachar, 2006: 50-51). Out of the several indicators used to see the level of educational development of any area or any group of population, the literacy rate (the Census measures literacy rates in terms of the percentage of persons aged 7 years and above, who can read and write) is the most basic indicator. Since religion wise data on any other educational indicator are not available, so it is the literacy rate that has been widely used to see the level of educational level of Muslims and other religious community in India. The percentage of literates belonging to all religious communities is 64.85% as per census 2001 at national level. The literacy level is higher for males i.e. 75.3% as compare to females i.e. 53.7%. In urban areas also literacy level is higher than rural areas i.e. 79.9% against 58.7%. After more than 60 years of independence of India still we can’t minimize the gap across gender and rural and urban areas. These gaps are still constant at national level as well as in state level. In this regard various hypotheses have been put forward by various scholars. Zaidi (2007) analyzed literacy figures of Census 2001 and reached to conclusion that in most of the districts and states Muslims are educationally most backward. Also it varies from one state to another and from one district to another with few exceptions. He found Muslims are educationally most backward in Haryana, Punjab and Assam. However Muslims’ literacy is a serious concern in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar. Hussain (2005: 137p) studied Muslims of Kolkata and found that ‘situation is especially piquant as less than 200 years ago, Muslims constituted a politically, economically and culturally dominant section of India’s population. Yet, within the intervening
  • Md. Mainuddin 94 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 period, they have gradually fallen behind the rest of society. A low level of education is both a cause and a manifestation of this backwardness, especially among low income Muslims. In such groups, lack of education and overall socio-economic backwardness has combined to reduce their capability set; this has resulted in vulnerability and a tendency towards antisocial and criminal activities. Hence a study of the low incidence of education amongst Muslims is important in understanding the reasons for the backwardness of Muslim society’. Literacy in West Bengal Literacy rate in West Bengal is not so bad and it is higher than the national average. Moreover, according to 2001 census West Bengal ranked 12th position in literacy rate among various states in India. The literacy rate in West Bengal is 68.64% against the national average 64.85%. Male literacy rate is 77.02% against national average 76% and female literacy rate is 51.61% against national average 54%. There is also inter-religious inequality in literacy level. Hence, it would be apt to examine where the different minority group stand in terms of literacy (Waheed, 2007 & Jawaid, 2007). The following table 4 presented literacy rate of various religious communities in West Bengal. TABLE: 4 Literacy Rate among the various Religious communities in West Bengal Religious Communities Persons Male Female All Religions 68.64 77.02 51.61 Hindus 72.44 81.12 63.09 Muslims 57.47 64.61 49.75 Christians 69.72 77.20 62.30 Sikhs 87.19 91.37 81.98 Buddhists 74.73 83.09 66.22 Jains 92.81 96.46 88.87 Others 51.53 68.63 34.24 Religion not stated63.75 71.52 54.82 Source: Census of India 2001 The data presented in table 4 shows that the literacy rate of Muslims is the lowest (i.e. 57.47%) among the six religious groups in West Bengal while that of the Jains the highest i.e. 92.81%. Sikhs occupy the second position with literacy rate of 87.19% and third
  • Md. Mainuddin 95 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 position by Buddhists with literacy rate of 74.73%. While the Hindus, the largest religious group occupies fourth position with 72.44% literacy rate. Christians occupy the fifth position with literacy rate of 69.72%, more than state average. From the above discussion it is very clear that Muslims are the most educationally backward community in the state. Another dimension of the literacy rate of Muslims must be mentioned here. The gap in literacy level between males and females is lowest among Muslims than among the Hindus where the gap is sizeable. This very fact denies the common perception that Muslims women were discouraged for education by their male counterpart. Literacy rate among Muslims differs from one district to another. The following table 5 presented the district wise literacy rate of Muslims in West Bengal in descending order. TABLE-5: District Wise Literacy Rate of Muslims in W.B S.No Districts Literacy Rate (%) W.B 57.47 1 Hugli 73.50 2 Bardhaman 68.79 3 Kolkata 68.06 4 Haora 67.80 5 Dakshin Dinajpur 67.21 6 Noth 24 parganas 65.05 7 Medinipur 64.97 8 Bankura 59.91 9 Birbhum 59.86 10 South 24 parganas 59.83 11 Koch Bihar 56.07 12 Jalpaiguri 55.34 13 Purulia 53.44 14 Darjeeling 50.38 15 Nadia 49.41 16 Murshidabad 48.63 17 Maldah 45.30 18 Uttar Dinajpur 36.04 Source: Census of India 2001 The above table 5 shows that Muslims have lower literacy rate than the state average in most of the districts. In Hugli there is highest level of literacy rate i.e. 73.50% and lowest literacy rate is
  • Md. Mainuddin 96 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 found in the district of Uttar Dinajpur i.e 36.04%. While Bardhaman occupies the second highest position in terms of literacy rate. In both the districts Hugli and Bardhaman the Muslims literacy rate is higher than the state average. In remaining districts the literacy rate of Muslims is less than the state average 68.64%. The districts like Kolkata, Haora, Dakshin Dinajpur, North 24 Parganas and Mednipur have literacy rate less than state average but more than 60%. In above mentioned districts the literacy rate of Muslims is though more than 60% but the important dimension is that in Hugli which have the highest literacy rate of Muslims constitute only 15.08% of Muslim population and Haora with 24.34% of Muslim population show literacy rate little less than state average. While in rest of the districts the literacy rate is not so good and these districts are Bankura, Birbhum, South 24 Parganas, Koch Bihar, Jalpaiguri, Purulia, and Darjeeling, with literacy rate in between 50-60%. The literacy rate in three districts namely Nadia, Murshidabad and Malda is low and it lies between 40% to 50%. While Uttar Dinajpur occupies third position with 47% Muslim Population in the district, only 36.04% Muslims are literate. Out of these four districts three districts that is Murshidabad and Malda constituted more than 50% and Uttar Dinajpur about 50% Muslim population but lowest literacy rate. It is because of this unique combination (of high Muslims population and low Muslims literacy rate), we can conclude that as the concentration of Muslim population increases in the districts, the literacy rate decreases. This is one of the negative capabilities for the socio-economic development of any community as emphasized in Human Development Report, 2004 (Human Development Report 2004: 127; Barthwal 2006: 170). Literacy Rate in SMP Districts Having examined the 2001 census data on the distribution of population by religious communities in all the 18 districts of the state, 5 districts have been sorted out where the Muslim population is more than 30 per cent of the total district population. These districts are called as SMP districts to denote ‘Substantial Muslim population’ (Bose, 2005). The table 6 gives the distribution of Muslim population and literacy rate in SMP districts of the state.
  • Md. Mainuddin 97 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 Table-6: Literacy rate in SMP districts Sl. No Districts Total Population Muslim Per cent Literacy 1 Murshidabad 5866569 3735380 63.67 48.63 2 Maldah 3290468 1636171 49.72 45.3 3 Uttar Dinajpur 2441794 1156503 47.36 36.04 4 Birbhum 3015422 1057861 35.08 59.86 5 South 24 parganas 6906689 2295967 33.24 59.83 Source: Census of India 2001 The data gives us the impression that the districts with more Muslim population having the low literacy rate and those districts with lower percentage of Muslim population shows better literacy rate. In other words, we can say that as we move towards the districts with higher concentration of Muslim population the literacy decreases sharply. For example, in Murshidabad Muslims constitute 63.67% of the district population and 48.63% of literacy rate, while South 24 Parganas constitute 33.24 % of population but 59.83 % of literacy rate among all 5 SMP districts. As far as Hindus are concerned their population in the entire district is more than 30%, and their literacy rate is higher than Muslims in all districts except Dakshin Dinajpur. The data reveals that as the concentration of Muslims in the district increases their literacy rate decreases. It can be inferred from the above fact that the infrastructure of education is not well established in these Muslims dominated districts and hence they are alienated from the educational right. This situation needs more in depth study to come out with rationale of this situation. Educational Level Educational level of a society or a community within a society cannot be judge from its literacy rate, though it is important indicator for making a distinction between literate and non-literate. A literate person is not define on the basis of his/her educational attainment but only on the basis of knowledge of reading or writing any of the language. Observed Prime Minister High Level Committee “External evaluations indicate that many so-called literates did not have the ability to apply their reading and writing skills to real-life situations, and often a substantial proportion reverted to illiteracy within 4-5 years after leaving school”. This aspect is not taken into account by the census definition. In contrast, the definition of the National Literacy Mission focuses on acquiring
  • Md. Mainuddin 98 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic and the ability to apply them to one’s day-to-day life” (Sachar, 2006: 50-51). Thus, it is important to analyze educational attainment of population. Educational attainment refers to acquiring education in a systematic way through formal and informal education. There are various levels of education like below primary, Primary, Middle, Matric, Higher secondary, Technical, Non-Technical, Graduate and above. Though census of India 2001 for the first time after Independence provides age wise educational level data of religious communities, educational level has been analysed in the age group 7 and above. For example, percentage of below primary level education is computed with total population of the state or a community. This is presented in the following table 7. It must be noted here that total population of the state in the age group of 7 and above is 6,87,61,975. Hindus comprises 5,07,29,812 crore while Muslims constitute 1,64,64,543 crore. Table-7: Distribution of Literates by Educational Level, Religious Community Religion Below primary Primary Middle Matric/ Secondary Higher Secondary Graduate & above Non- Technical Diploma Technical Diploma Total** 16347698 11449999 8050643 4859685 2287115 3186374 5196 95799 Hindus 11470789 8719791 6671953 4181271 2048622 2932968 3435 90024 Muslims 4541597 2494842 1198591 570473 192216 195192 1628 4145 Percentage to total population Total** 23.77 16.65 11.71 7.07 3.33 4.63 0.01 0.14 Hindus 22.61 17.19 13.15 8.24 3.53 5.05 0.01 0.18 Muslims 27.58 15.15 7.28 3.46 1.17 1.19 0.01 0.03 Note: *Literate includes unclassified educational levels **Total (All religious communities) includes 'Religion not stated'. Source: Census of India, 2001 It is evident from the above table 7 that the average state percentage of people who have attained below primary level education is 23.77% and Hindus having 1 percentage points less than state level. While Muslims show 27.58% share in this category which is higher than state and Hindus. In below primary school education Muslims’s share is not higher only in West Bengal. Many studies
  • Md. Mainuddin 99 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 reveal that in this category Madrasa and Maktabs are included and Muslims are used to prefer to send their children in these institutions. This does not mean they are not interested to send their children in modern schools but most of the time due to poverty or unavailability of schools in the neighbourhood. At primary level the state average is 16.65% and Hindus show more proportion than the state level with 17.19% share. While Muslims (15.15%) are less than Hindus. At middle level, the state average is 11.71% and Hindus having 13.15% which is more than state level. Muslims share in middle level education is 7.28% which is just half of Hindus. At matric level, state average is 7.07%. Comparing to state level Hindus having higher percentage i.e.8.24%. Muslims show much lower percentage with only 3.46% in this category. At higher secondary level the state average is 3.33%. Here also Hindus share is 3.53% which is higher than state average. While Muslims show poor share with only 1.17%. In graduate level, the state average is 4.63 per cent. Hindus having 5.05% which is more than state level and also 4 percentage points higher than Muslims (1.19%). The proportion of non- technical graduates is insignificant in the state. While technical graduates is important as it indicates the stock of technical skills available in the community or in any nation. While the pool of technical graduates is even lower with only about 0.14%, the performance of Muslims (0.03%) is worse than Hindus (0.18%), with a sharp differential existing between them. From the above discussion it is clear that as the education level increases the educational attainment of Muslims decreases. While Hindus have higher educational achievement as compare to state as well as Muslims in all educational level except below primary level. The above data do point out the disparate level in educational attainment of Muslims as compare to other groups. Differences in educational attainment across various sections of society is because of their differing level of socio-economic status, which in turn impacts the (social) demand for education across social
  • Md. Mainuddin 100 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 classes (Alam & Raju, 2007). This lead to conclude that it is evident that Muslims of West Bengal are socio-economically marginalized hence the demand of education among them is low. It is pertinent to note here that Muslims are educationally most excluded community in West Bengal and far behind the other religious group. This empirical finding of Muslims educational alienation was supported in pre-independent India (1857-1947) by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and other protagonists found that educationally Muslims sharply lag behind the other community. Later on, “Revisionist scholarship on education in colonial India has demonstrated that Muslims did not lag behind other communities as sharply as was maintained by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and other protagonists of Aligarh movement. In the light of quantitative and qualitative data gathered by scholars like Anil Seal, Aparna Basu, Paul Brass, David Lelyved, and Hafiz Malik it can be generalized that the Muslim student population in modern high school was generally proportionate to the Muslim numerical strength in the provinces of India, except Bengal”. This means that in pre- independence period, Muslims were educationally backward in Bengal. This was also supported by an important work about Muslims by William Wilson Hunter’s famous work, The Indian Musalmans, published in 1871 whose findings about Muslims educational lag was true only for Bengal (Khalidi, 1995). After 62 years of independence by the various research studies and government reports from time to time reported their educational backwardness. For example, the notably feature of the Bengal Muslim educational problem is their abnormally low share at higher levels of education. The higher the education the rare is the share of Muslims (Mondal, 1994). There are various factors those are responsible for Muslims educational backwardness in West Bengal. Generally, Very high rural poverty and high concentration of Muslims in rural areas is an important factor in the low educational status of Muslims. The situation has been exacerbated with the steady decline of industry in West Bengal, but continued migration into it from east UP and Bihar. Thus, Muslims are almost totally dependent on the state for education, and this has made for some unexpected and poignant outcomes (Hasan & Menon, 2005).
  • Md. Mainuddin 101 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 Conclusion: Muslims are most educationally backward community as compare to other religious communities in the state as well as in India. Though they constitute more than 25% of state population their literacy rate are 57% which is 11 percentage points less than state average (68.64%). Though, population growth rate is relatively high but not highest across all the religious communities. It is a myth that Muslims population growth rate is highest and increasing as a whole. Rather the above discussion shows that in some states including West Bengal the population growth is declining and at national level it is also follows the downward graph. Prevalence of low education level and wealth among Muslim women is largely responsible for the high fertility rate and ultimately leads to high population growth. Here, is the need of the policies to educate the community as a whole and minimize the influence of those factors responsible for high growth rate. Moreover, the Muslims are not uniformly distributed in all the districts in the state. In some districts their population size is small. Unequal distribution of Muslim population encourages discrimination in implementing various governmental plans and programmes. But the major concern is that these districts are economically under developed. The analysed data reveals that Muslims are largely rural community as 83% Muslims live in the country and don’t have access to education and other basic amenities. The data also shows that literacy rate of Muslims are decreasing as concentration of Muslims increase in the districts. The data also reveals that in SMP districts Muslims literacy is very low. As the population concentration is increases in the district the Muslim literacy rate is decreases. It needs further empirical research to find out such type of anomaly. With regard to educational achievement, the condition of Muslims is one of grave concern. The data clearly indicates that while the overall levels of education in West Bengal measured through various indicators, is still below universally acceptable standards, the educational status of the Muslim community in particular is a matter of great concern. Furthermore we can say that as the level of education increases the rate of participation of Muslims in education decreases sharply. Educational condition of Muslims has not improved in comparison to other minority groups. The study finds that Muslims are educationally alienated even in those districts where their concentration is more than the majority
  • Md. Mainuddin 102 Asia Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.II(2), June-Dec 2010, pp.82-104 community (Hindus). This needs to further elaborate study to find out why there is an anomaly exists in the state as well as in the districts. The broad conclusions have important policy implications for effectively managing issues arising out of religious diversity in the country. It is hoped that the findings related to Muslims population growth, population distribution and educational status in this paper will contribute debates in this regard objectively. I also hoped that this paper will stimulate research towards states specific studies seeking to explain reasons underlying declining trend of fertility growth, unequal distribution of Muslim population and low educational status in Muslim concentrated areas.
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