ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Assessing Muslim Disadvantage

Handbook of Muslims in India: Empirical and Policy Perspectives edited by Rakesh Basant and Abusaleh Shariff

Assessing Muslim Disadvantage

Steven Wilkinson

T
he Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee collected masses of data of the extent of Muslim underrepresentation and backwardness, and a ttracted a lot of controversy, much more controversy in fact than its very mainstream recommendations deserved. But as I pointed out in a review essay shortly a fter the committee’s report was published (“A Comment on the Analysis in Sachar Report”, EPW, 10 March 2007), the report itself was analytically underwhelming. Much of it consisted of charts and tables showing that Muslims were worse off than other social groups, but without presenting the sort of detailed data analysis that would have told us why they are worse off. In particular, the rich data sets the committee used cried out for more sustained multivariate analysis, which would let us determine, for example, whether Muslims are economically worse off because of their lack of education, their lack of access to regular employment, their religious identity, or because Muslims disproportionately live in states with worse outcomes. Without this clear sense of why Muslims are doing worse, the central and state governments are very unlikely to come up with policies that will lead to any real improvement in the lives of I ndia’s 160 million Muslims.

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