Sachar reckless committee (2)

Conclusions must be drawn after it releases the whole report

The Sachar Committee has been given a month past its original deadline to submit its report on the socio-economic condition of India’s Muslim population. As this blog has previously observed, the committee has relied on hearings involving people and organisations with vested interests in the subject. Still, its final report is bound to be interesting. It would also have been most useful if conclusions were drawn, especially by the breathless news media, after the entire report became publicly available.

Unfortunately, some of its findings have already been presented to the public through the pages of the Indian Express: that relative to their proportion in the population, Muslims are under-represented in government jobs, in schools, in the judiciary and in land ownership. They are over-represented among the poor and in the prison population. We are told that “Muslims contribute 10 per cent of the labour force but punch under their weight when it comes to contributing to GDP, only six per cent”.

It also turns out that “states where political leaders have championed the Muslim cause aggressively, like Uttar Pradesh, fare poorly when it comes to providing Muslims jobs in government and in the public sector—ironically, Gujarat fares better on this score. In other words, ‘minority politics’ benefits politicians more than it does the community.”

Putting the findings to good use requires a clear-headed and dispassionate analysis of the data the committee has compiled. It is entirely possible that religion is a red-herring: poor socio-economic indicators may be correlated with religion, but the underlying cause could well be secular (pun unintended). The poor, for example, are often over-represented in the prison population, and under-represented in jobs, schools and land ownership (that’s why they are poor in the first place). Such a scenario suggests that reducing poverty may resolve many of the downstream problems.

But we can’t conduct any such analysis to make up our own minds, because the Indian Express has access to the data. We don’t. Continuing its previous behaviour, the Sachar committee has permitted the selective release of data and findings to the media. This is unfortunate, ill-advised and is likely to prove to be the first step in its use for purely political purposes.

14 thoughts on “Sachar reckless committee (2)”

  1. Truely said!! The way IE is publishing the findings is more irresponsible, because the reports, although do not say it but imply a causation between being Mumslim and the sature, which is very very reckless to suggest on dubious data

  2. as a pakistani what i’m grateful for all said and done is my people (the muslims of india, though i’m not a muslim) have their own national destiny. reading your article not only gives me a distict sense of humiliation about how indian muslims are now merely a second tier population but makes me so grateful for pakistan..

    pakistan may be on the verge of failing every few years or so =) but there is a pride that we’re not merely a minority but a people with own destiny!

    at any rate these are my thoughts coming from someone with a triple identity; islamic pakistani, persian bahai and americanised european

  3. “The poor, for example, are often over-represented in the prison population, and under-represented in jobs, schools and land ownership (that’s why they are poor in the first place). Such a scenario suggests that reducing poverty may resolve many of the downstream problems.”

    Precisely the point. But ask someone like Karunanidhi, he’d say economic status is nothing. All that matters is your “social status” (whatever that means). Oppressing scheduled castes is inbuilt in the Hinduism. Oppressing muslims is inbuilt in Hinduism. Every problem in the world is inbuilt in Hinduism. Nothing else matters. The effrontery of our political class bogs me down.

  4. Zach buddy – sit down before you hurt yourself. Wonder if you’ve actually visited Pakistan? In any case – there’s probably many causes for the under-representation of Muslims in the economic growth of India – a majority likely historical – you know … convert the poorest – they’re the easiest to convert? I understand that idea well as a non-Hindu Indian.

  5. a fellow libertarian =)

    i grew up in pakistan after my family were exiles from the iraq invasion of kuwait. peculiarly enough i came to pakistan as a six year old shortly after democracy returned and left as a 14year old left a few months before musharraf came to power.

    i still remember that though democratic pakistan was a vibrant polity there was a sort of desperation about where the country was going. army rule hasn’t really stifled the democratic parties (thats why musharraf is so desperate to strike a deal with either ppp or pml and even with mqm) but it has focused everyone’s energies onto a national destiny. though this has come at the cost of a bloody uprsigin in baluchistan and the perception that pakistan sold itself out to the americans after 9/11 (neither benazir or nawaz could have done that without being toppled or seriously undermined)

    the point is though that for better or for worse it is our national destiny to make or ruin rather than have commissions pontificating on us and that’s what i’m grateful for..

  6. Zachary,

    You appear to be looking for a way to re-affirm Pakistan’s place in the world by comparing your country with Indian Muslims. Why do you think this is necessary sixty years after partition? You’ve been in control of your national destiny for so long, that you should be comfortable with it by now.

    Your point about Muslims being a “second-tier” (btw, there are several claimants for the second-tier in India, depending on whom you ask. The Commies will tell you its the labourers and the urban poor, some others will tell you its the Dalit and the backward caste, others will tell you its people from the North East) would have been valid if (a) there were no poor people in Pakistan and (b) if they were really in control of their own “destiny”.

    The facts suggest other wise. Poverty in Pakistan is increasing (despite Musharraf, Shaukat Aziz and spin), as is income inequality. As for personal destiny, I’m not sure how that works in a country whose national destiny is indistinguishable from that of its Army, and lately one person.

    Wonder why the Baloch are up in arms, the Gilgitis seething. That’s to say nothing of the Shias or other religious minorities.


    Note to readers:

    This is a discussion about the Sachar committee in particular and socio-economic situation of Indian Muslims in general. I recommend we stick to the topic…the discussion on Pakistan can wait for its turn, elsewhere perhaps. (Zachary you are entitled to a response)

  7. Nitin, I wonder if you are know a Francois Gautier. He has setup an organization called FACT and was sending mails promoting it. That aside, his mail had the following passage –
    ———————–
    Today, many Brahmins and Other upper Castes may be as underprivileged as the Dalits. Did you see for instance the paper by D Narayana, Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvanantpuram (“Perception, Poverty and Health, Feb. 2005), which shows that 69.8% of Brahmins and OUC never went past 12th standard, that 52,4% of Brahmins and OUC farmers don’t owe land bigger than 100 cents, quite insufficient to nourish a family, and that
    53.9 % of the upper caste population is below poverty line. So much for the clichés and prejudices in India about Brahmins and Thakurs.
    ———————–
    Wonder how Sachar’s report juxtaposes with this..

    Rajeev has put the mail in his blog
    http://rajeev2004.blogspot.com/2006/10/francois-gautier-and-fact-on-issue-of.html

  8. nitin for a pakistan an indian muslim is the closest analogue perhaps because we were once indian muslims =)

    india’s greatest achievement is it’s unity as a multi-faith democracy since independence while pakistan has split and even betrayed its values. like-for-like a muslim in pakistan has the respect and socio-economic backing that muslims in india just don’t have. a comparison that’s important for both sides to consider and reflect upon at times ..

    i agree pakistan has its fair share of problem and more but i shudder to think the humiliation if in an alternate reality a commission reported the relative backwardness of 500mn muslims in an united india..

    what i’m trying to say is that when indians usually talk about muslim separatism in 1947; they fail to see the other point of view. that no muslim (pakistani) would want to be second tier in a great nation, we would rather control our own however miserable it may be.

  9. Zachary,

    like-for-like a muslim in pakistan has the respect and socio-economic backing that muslims in india just don’t have.

    I don’t see how you can derive this conclusion from just looking at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder.

    i agree pakistan has its fair share of problem and more but i shudder to think the humiliation if in an alternate reality a commission reported the relative backwardness of 500mn muslims in an united india.

    What you are saying is that you don’t mind Muslims living in poverty, without ‘respect and socio-economic backing’ if it so happens that the privileged class are also Muslims. However, you believe it is an affront for Muslims to live in poverty, without ‘respect & socio-economic backing’ if those who are better off are non-Muslims. In other words a Muslim underclass in a Muslim country (even if it is failing) is okay, but a Muslim underclass in a secular democratic non-Muslim country is not.

    I broke my own injunction against going off-topic on this post because I just couldn’t figure out how to respond to you.

  10. Nitin: I broke my own injunction against going off-topic on this post … must feel good to be King eh? 🙂

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