Gujarat may have a small Muslim population but the state, according to the Planning Commission, contributes significantly to the high incidence of poverty among the community nationally.
In the 12th Plan approved by the National Development Council, the plan panel lists Gujarat along with UP, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam as the states accounting for high urban and rural poverty ratio among Muslims.
“Poverty ratio for Muslims was 33.9% in urban areas, on account of states such as UP, Gujarat, Bihar and West Bengal. In rural areas, the poverty ratio for Muslims was very high in states such as Assam, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat” it says, according to the ‘the latest Planning Commission estimates’ based on Census 2001, National Family Health Survey, Working Group Reports etc.
Among the five states listed, Gujarat consists of the least number of Muslims. While 18.5% of UP’s population is Muslim, in Bihar it is 16.5%. As much as 25% of West Bengal and 31% of Assam is Muslim-dominated. In Gujarat, 8.8% are Muslims (Census 2001) and at least six more states have Muslims in higher proportion than Gujarat.
But Gujarat CM Narendra Modi has been denying allegations that Muslims fall backward in the growth graph of the state.
Overall, Muslims constitute 13.4% of the country’s population and 73% of the total minorities. “The literacy rate and work participation rate amongst the Muslims is low as compared to other minorities … Only a few of them are reported to have benefited from various development schemes,” the section Empowerment of Minorities – Poverty and Alienation states.
“An important concern vis-à-vis the Muslim community is the perception of discrimination and alienation.”