In the current debate on the place of the Muslims in India, one variable has not been factored in — their socio-economic situation — as if the dominant repertoire had shifted for good towards the politics of symbols and identity. In socio-economic terms, Muslims are losing ground rapidly, even if their situation is deteriorating more in northern and western India than in the south. Using the two rounds of the Indian Human Development Survey (IHDS) of 2004-05 and 2011-12, we cover here all four regions, that is, north, east, west, and south, each region being represented by two states.
In the North, UP (where Muslims were 19.3 per cent of the population in the 2011 census) and Haryana (17 per cent); in the East, Bihar (16.9 per cent) and West Bengal (27 per cent); in the West, Gujarat (9.7 per cent) and Maharashtra (11.5 per cent) and in the South, Karnataka (12.9 per cent) and Kerala (26.6 per cent). The selected states constituted 68.5 per cent of the 170 million Muslims enumerated in 2011. We examine Muslims as a block because from a socio-economic point of view, differences between the Muslim OBCs and other Muslims are remarkably limited, compared to the gap that remains between Hindu OBCs and other Hindus.
By Christophe Jaffrelot