A sense of discrimination is keeping Muslim women away from the government-run health institutions for labour and post-natal check-up.
The Planning Commission has made the startling observation in its 12th Plan document, which was recently approved by the National Development Council headed by the prime minister.
Births to Muslim mothers are much less likely to take place in a health facility and are least likely to be followed by a postnatal check-up, the section on socio-economic condition of the minorities says quoting from the National Family Health Survey-3.
Compared to 59% Buddhist and 58% Sikh mothers, only 33% Muslim mothers give birth in a health facility.
The section goes further to say that, “This could in part reflect social and economic circumstances of Muslims, as well as their hesitation in approaching state institutions due to a real or perceived sense of discrimination.”
Surprisingly, the observation is not substantiated by corroborative data in the document, which is the top government plan governing socio-economic growth of the nation for five years.
Dr Syeda Hameed, member in-charge of the minorities and women issues was not available for comment.
“True, statements should be supported by related data. However, the observations made might be from the individual field studies or experiences,” Prof Abhijit Sen, another member said.
But, some within the commission criticised the comments as uncalled for in the plan document, more so when lacking in evidence. “Unfortunately, the document contains several such invalid observations that put its credibility in question.”
For example, the same section on minorities observes that Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat as largely accounting for the poverty among Muslims nationwide. But it does not assert the statement with corroborative data, except according it to “the latest Planning Commission estimates.”