Some good news for Indian Muslims, against all odds

Raqib Hameed Naik
Raqib Hameed NaikJun 05, 2017 | 14:38

Some good news for Indian Muslims, against all odds

In the backdrop of far right-sponsored propaganda to continuously corner Indian Muslims on issues ranging from triple talaq and beef ban to patriotism, the community has a reason to celebrate.

From state Board exam results to civil service examinations, Muslims youth are making their way among the toppers, with the number of candidates successfully clearing prestigious competitive examinations also showing an upward trend.


This can be gauged from that fact that in the recently declared result of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), around 50 Muslim candidates made their entry to the prestigious government service. The number is being considered as the highest, post independence of India. 

The number usually used to hover between 30-40 successful candidates in the last few years. It was 36 in 2016, 38 in 2015, 34 in 2014 and 30 in 2013.

The success stories don’t stop here. In Bengal’s Madhyamik Examination, the result of which was declared in the last week of May, five Muslim students made their way among the top ten students. A total of ten lakh students had appeared for the exam. 

In Gujarat intermediate level exam results, Farhana Bawani topped the science stream by securing 99.72 per cent  marks. Like her, Rozina Shaikh also featured among the toppers by securing 97.07 per cent. 

In Assam’s higher secondary results, Sarfaraz Hussain topped the exam by scoring 590 marks out of 600. He stood top among 3,81,585 students who had appeared with him in the same examination.

These numbers are not limited to just a few states, but almost every other state has stories where more and more Muslims are taking up the challenges and excelling in their respective fields. The developments are quite significant in the backdrop of lowest literacy rate and highest percentage of illiterates aged beyond seven years (42.72 per cent) among Muslims, according to 2011 Census data.


The number of illiterates is 36.4 per cent for Hindus, 32.49 per cent for Sikhs, 28.17 per cent for Buddhists and 25.66 per cent for Christians, according to 2011 Census data on "education level by religious community" for age seven years and above. 

In the literacy graph also, Muslims feature at the lowest among other religious communities. The Jain community has 94.9 per cent literacy rate, Christians have 84.5 per cent, Sikhs 75.5 per cent, Hindus 73.3 per cent and Muslims stand at 68.5 per cent. The literacy rate among Muslims is lower than the national average of 74.04 per cent. The data also reveals that a meagre 2.76 per cent Muslims are educated till graduation level or above.

Farhana Bawani with her father. Photo: PTI

If these numbers are taken in relation to the community's population of 14.2 per cent (according to 2011 Census), then nothing substantial has been done by successive governments in improving the literacy rate of Muslims in the last one decade.

The Congress, which usually claims to champion the cause of minorities, sat on most of the recommendations given by the Rajinder Sachar committee report for improving the social, economic and educational status of the community for two consecutive terms in power. The Sachar committee recommendations continue to be ignored by the BJP-led NDA government, from which Muslims expect the least.


In second week of May, Union minister for minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had said the Centre will launch a campaign to educationally empower the poor and marginalised sections of society and stressed on the Modi government’s commitment towards providing quality education to students belonging to minority communities. However, budget figures depict a different story.

The Union Budget (2017-2018) allocated Rs 4195.48 crore to the minority affairs ministry, an increase of Rs 368.23 crore from the 2016-17 Budget of Rs 3827.25 crore. The amount stood at Rs 3712.78 crore in the 2015-16 Budget. A major part of the budget allocated to the minority ministry goes to states and Union Territories in the form of grant-in aid, thus leaving only a marginal amount for policies aimed at the educational development of Muslims. Besides, the figures depict that there is only marginal increase in Budget allocation as compared to the Muslim population of over 140 million.

At policy level, there is poor representation of Muslims. Consider the case of the ministry of minority affairs; according to an RTI there are only seven Muslims employees out of total 74. Out of the seven, one is joint secretary, one deputy secretary, one ASO, one SRI, one MTS and one senior translator (Urdu).

A ministry that is supposed to design and implement various development policies for minorities lacks representation from the very same communities, who are better equipped with the policy inputs required for an optimum policy design.

The recent successful results of Muslims will definitely work as a catalytic factor in uplift of the community educationally in the long run. The results become more significant in the backdrop of RSS and Modi-led NDA government's approach of continuously targeting the community over different issues.

The Muslim community understands that education is the only way out, so should the central government and its ideologue realise that targeting the minority community will only hurt the national interest.

Instead of coming up with new schemes, if the already designed policies, programmes and schemes are well implemented and evaluated for their effectiveness with true intent, along with substantial increase in budgetary allocation to the ministry of minority affairs, then a major leap could be taken forward towards improving the status of Muslims educationally, which will subsequently improve their social and economic status.

A prosperous and empowered minority community always serves as a badge of honour for democracies, which India, the world’s largest democracy, would surely want to get.

Last updated: June 05, 2017 | 14:39
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