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

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Marginalisation of Minorities

India: Social Development Report 2012: Minorities at the Margins edited by Mushirul Hasan and Zoya Hasan, Council for Social Development (Delhi: Oxford University Press), 2013; pp xx + 298, Rs 795

The volume under review is the product of a large number of area and sectoral studies on the socio-economic conditions of socially excluded sections. These include the poor among the scheduled castes (SCs), the scheduled tribes (STs), the denotified tribes (DNTs), the disabled, women and religious minorities. Muchkund Dubey sets the tone in the foreword by announcing that the special theme of the report is minority rights as the root of marginaliation is identity-based exclusion. He also points out that while evolving the social development index (SDI), it must be kept in mind that social hierarchies based on caste, ethnicity, religion and gender are affected by poverty. Market segmentation superimposed on traditional structures of domination at the micro level determines access to public goods such as health, education and employment.

The editors of the report, Zoya Hasan and Mushirul Hasan, clarify the concept of “social development” originally proposed by Durgabai Deshmukh, a founder of the Council for Social Development and who played a pivotal role in the debates in the Constituent Assembly of India. They point out the failure of the State to provide people with the basic minimum needed for survival and a dignified life due to its withdrawal from the infrastructure, social and agricultural sectors of the economy. They also highlight identity-based exclusion which targets the Muslim community the most. The Human Development Report, 2011 shows that Muslims account for 33% of the total below poverty line population.

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