Muslims in India: Confident in Democracy Despite Economic and Educational Challenges
Muslim Indians are more likely than the country’s Hindus and members of all other religions – including those who don’t belong to a religious group – to be “suffering.” One-third (32%) of the country’s Muslims are suffering. Gallup classifies respondents as “thriving,” “struggling,” or “suffering” according to how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10 based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. People who rate their current life situation and their life in five years a “4” or less are considered suffering. Hindus (23%) and members of India’s various other religious sects (15%) are less likely to be suffering.
Muslim Indians Most Likely to be categorized as suffering
The findings in this report are based on nationally representative studies conducted in 2010 and 2011 with a total of 9,518 Indians, including 1,197 Muslim Indians.
Economic, Educational Problems of a Growing Minority
The roughly 1.3 billion people who make India the world’s second most populous country live in a diverse land. Hindi is the official state language of the nearly two dozen languages officially recognized, but it is the primary language of less than half of India’s residents. The state, secular by mandate of its constitution, offers no official state religion, but 80% of India’s population is Hindu.
Muslims represent India’s largest religious minority group at nearly 13% of the country’s population. In a country with such a large populace, though, that minority translates to more than 140 million residents – meaning India has more Muslims than any other country in the world except for Indonesia and Pakistan. And this minority group is growing. The 2001 census found the Muslim population in India had increased almost 200% in 40 years, from 1961 to 2001. While the rest of the country’s populace grew, it did so at a slower rate (134% for all of India during the same four decades, including Muslim Indians). The annual growth rate for the Muslim population during that time was 2.7%, higher than the national average of 2.1%. Gallup data show that Muslims in India are more likely than Hindus and members of other religions to have three or more children under the age of 15 at home.
Muslims are the most likely to have three or more children living at home
This growing minority of Muslim Indians are more economically disadvantaged and dissatisfied than Indians of other religious groups. Muslims are more likely than the Indian population overall to live below the poverty line, 31% compared with 26%, according to the National Council of Applied Economic Research in India. Gallup data show that the country’s Muslims (51%) are less likely than Hindus (63%) or others (66%) to be satisfied with their standard of living. Similarly, Muslims (65%) are more likely than Hindus (53%) and others (51%) to say their standard of living is staying the same or getting worse.
Muslims Least Satisfied with standard of living, least likely to say it’s getting better
Household income is a particular disadvantage for Muslims in India. Muslims (47%) are more likely to say they find it “difficult” or “very difficult” living on their present household income than Hindus (39%) and members of other religions (24%). Muslims (23%) are also slightly more inclined than Hindus (18%) and others (12%) to say there were times in the past year when they did not have enough money to buy the food that they or their families needed.
on present income, Muslims Least Likely to be living comfortably, most likely to be finding it very difficult
Abject poverty is partially to blame for low levels of education among Muslim Indians, according to a 2006 report titled “Social, Economic and Educational Status of Muslim Community of India,” chaired by Justice Rajindar Sachar and produced for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The report calls education a “grave concern” for the country’s Muslim community – not only the lower levels of education received, but the low quality of such education. Educational attainment is not particularly high throughout India, but Muslim Indians (88%) are slightly more likely than Hindus (84%) to list their level of education as elementary or less; all other Indians (72%) are distinctly ahead on this measure.
Muslim Indians lage slightly in educational attainment
The report cites poor access to schools in predominantly Muslim areas of India, and high pupil-teacher ratios in the schools that are present. But in Gallup’s 2011 survey, Muslim Indians (74%) are as satisfied as Hindus (74%) and other Indians (76%) with the educational system or schools in their areas. Indians overall were more satisfied with their local schools in 2011 than in 2010.
no difference by religion in satisfaction with schools
India has implemented nationwide improvements to elementary schools, as outlined in a 2010 District Infor
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