Muslims in Bihar better off than Dalits, finds survey

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Patna, Jan 12 (IANS) The socio-economic condition of Muslims in the state of Bihar is better than that of the state’s Dalit Hindus, but worse than upper caste Hindus and Other Backward Castes (OBCs), a survey has found.

“Muslims are better placed in comparison to Dalits in 31 of 37 districts of Bihar, but Muslims are at the bottom at the national level,” Abusaleh Shariff, chairperson of the New Delhi-based Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy said on the basis of a survey conducted by his centre in collaboration with the US-India Policy Institute based in Washington DC.

The report is based on the 2011 census, when the total population in Bihar stood at 10.5 crore, of which 16.5 percent were Muslims.

Twelve development indicators, including health, education and employment have been focused upon in the report to assess the condition of Muslims in Bihar.

Abusaleh, who was also associated with the much-publicised Sachar Committee report on the status of Indian Muslims published in 2006, said that like Kerala, socio-economic condition of Muslims in Bihar had improved fast, thanks to the money-order economy.

“A large proportion of Muslim migrants went outside Bihar and abroad in search of livelihood, and they send remittance that mainly have contributed to improve socio-economic condition of their families,” Abusaleh said.

Abusaleh, a noted economist, said the development taking place in Bihar in the last few years also helped to improve the condition of Muslims. “But still, there is need to do more for the development of the Muslims of Bihar,” he said.

According to the survey report, in comparison to 12.2 percent upper castes, 13.5 percent rural Muslims have jobs, and against 19 percent urban upper castes, 17.3 percent urban Muslims get job opportunities.

Saibal Gupta, head of the Patna-based Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI), said that the condition of Muslims in Bihar improved in recent years but more needs to be done for their development.

About nine years ago, a survey was conducted by ADRI and sponsored by the Bihar State Minorities Commission, on the socio-economic condition of Muslims in Bihar, showed that Muslims were the poorest community in the state.

That survey report said that about 49.5 percent of rural Muslim families and 44.8 percent of the urban Muslim households fall below the poverty line, 19.9 percent among them are acutely poor, and 28.04 percent Muslims in rural areas are landless labourers.

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