Five members of the Legislative Assembly, 11 members of the Legislative Council, two IAS officers and four IPS officers: the number of Muslims in the upper echelons of political and bureaucratic power is abysmally low.
These and other observations on socio-economic indicators are a part of a detailed profile of the Muslim community in Maharashtra commissioned by the state minority commission and submitted last week.
In urban areas for Muslims, the infant mortality rate is 38 per 1,000 compared to 28 for Hindus.
Out of every 1,000 Muslim households, 740 did not have cultivatable land, according to the 2004-05 data, while the same figure for Hindus was 454.
“There needs to be political representation to ensure a share of the development pie,” said Vibhuti Patel, SNDT economics professor who led the research.
The state minority commission has said it is studying the report.
“It has brought out the reality,” said Munaf Hakim, chairperson of the commission, admitting there were schemes that weren’t filtering down to people.
“The ration shops do not give anything,” said Wahida Sheikh, a housewife living on Gilbert Hill, in the detailed case study chapter on that area.
“Every time we go and ask, we are told that sugar is over… Life is very difficult and I am worried for my children’s future.”
The consequences of continuously neglecting Muslims from the ambit of development and opportunities could have direct and indirect consequences.
“As a result of continuous tension, there could be flare-ups around everyday issues. Alienation from the mainstream could be used as cannon fodder by sectarian interests. The syncretic tradition of the state could be lost,” Patel said.