To an editorial published in the Indian Express on May 22 titled “Hard facts to face” the Gujarat Government had sent a letter in response stating the factual position regarding the status of Muslim in Gujarat. A part of the letter was published in the Indian Express dated May 26, 2010. The complete version of the letter that was sent to the Editor Indian Express is published herewith so that readers will be conversant with the real hard facts.
No caviling at Gujarat’s hard facts
How do Muslims fare in Gujarat? They fare much better compared to other states. The objective study by the Prime Minister’s high-level committee headed by Justice Rajendra Sachar, appointed by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in 2006, indicates that Muslims in Gujarat perform and fare much better when compared with other states in several key indicators such as education, employment, income and access to critical infrastructure. The editorial in the Indian Express dated May 22, 2010 is mostly based on perceptions and anecdotal evidences rather than hard facts. However the facts below speak for themselves.
In trying to make out a case for Muslim children being given a raw deal in primary and upper primary school enrolment facts that has placed Muslims in Gujarat on the top of literacy ladder have been totally ignored. According to Sachar committee report the percentage of literacy of Muslims in Gujarat is 73.5 per cent, the highest in India. It is pertinent to note that this is much higher than that of national average of 59.1 per cent and also the percentage of literacy of Hindus in Gujarat which is 68.3 per cent. Even Muslim women in urban areas of Gujarat have average literacy rate 5 points higher than the national average and rural Muslim women are far much better with their literacy rate of 57 per cent as compared to the national average of 43 per cent. If Muslim children are not provided education how can Muslims in Gujarat attain the highest literacy rate in the country?
During 2009-10 the enrolment of Muslim children has been 6.45 per cent (as against 4.7 per cent reported). It should be kept mind that this percentage excludes the enrolment in Madarsas and also some of the private schools which do not provide segregated data. The very fact that Muslims in Gujarat have the highest literacy rate in the country proves that they have access to education much better than in other states. If you look at Muslim education attainment those who have passed the primary stage are 74.9 per cent way ahead of the national average 60.9 per cent. In the category of those who passed secondary education Gujarat at 45.3 is ahead of the national average of 40.5 per cent. Even in the category of those who have passed higher secondary level Gujarat with 26.1 per cent is ahead of the national average of 23.9 per cent. In the average years of secondary schooling provided between the age group of 7-16 once again Gujarat with 4.29 per cent is ahead of the national average of 3.26 per cent. All the above figures in Gujarat are also ahead of states like West Bengal, UP, Bihar and many other states.
Your reference to Juhapura area of Ahmedabad lacking schools due to “gradual disentitlement and ghettoisation of Gujarat’s Muslims” is specious to the say the least as the facts prove otherwise. There are eight high schools out of which three are government-aided schools. In Juhapura and surrounding areas there are 13 municipal primary schools funded by the state government and also 15 private schools. Far from being ghettoized there is ample opportunity for the Muslim children to enroll themselves.
Secondly it has become a knee-jerk habit of secularists to pooh-pooh the good governance of the state of Gujarat. And as to your question if “his fabled governance genius translate into a better life for those his politics rejects?” the answer is clearly in the Sachar report which has called the bluff of those who have tried to besmirch Gujarat.
In the very social sectors which your editorial cites as the indicator of percolation of development to the minorities, Sachar Committee report reveals the performance of Gujarat is far better than many other states. The document also reveals Gujarat is far ahead in terms of providing education facilities and health facilities. If we take the case availability of schools in villages where there is Muslim population Gujarat is far ahead of the national average. In the category of villages with population of Muslims more than 2000 all the villages have education facility as against 98.7 per cent national average. In the category of 1000 to 2000 population, 99.9 per cent villages have education facilities as against the national average of 95.4 per cent. In the category of less than 1000 population 98.6 per cent of the villages have education facility as against the national average of 80.4 per cent.
When we consider the availability of medical facilities in villages, where Muslim population is more 2000, 89.9 per cent of the villages have medical facilities as against the national average of 70.7 per cent. In the category of 1000-2000 population, 66.67 per cent of villages have medical facilities against the national average of 43.5 per cent. In the category of villages less than 1000 population, 53 per cent of the villages have medical facilities as against the national average of 20.2 per cent.
Even in the case of other indicators such as road connectivity, availability of pucca approach road etc Gujarat is far ahead of national average and many other states.
Even on per month per capita income of Muslims is more than the Hindus of Gujarat in rural areas. For Muslims it stands at Rs 668 compared to Rs 644 for Hindus (SCs Rs 527 and OBCs Rs 594). This is much higher than many other states for example Andhra Pradesh (Rs 610); West Bengal (Rs 501); UP (Rs 509); Karnataka (Rs 532); MP (Rs 475) . The per capita income of Muslims in urban areas is also higher than the national average and many other states. (see Sachar report). The prosperity of Muslims in Gujarat when compared with other states is reflected in terms of the bank account wise average deposit. For instance Gujarat it is Rs 32,932 compared to West Bengal Rs 13, 824, Assam Rs 26,319 to cite a few examples.
If you take the employment of Muslims in critical departments of government such as home department, state transport dept and even in public sectors the percentage of Muslims occupying high posts is higher in Gujarat when compared with other States. Just to cite an example in Gujarat where the percentage of Muslims is 9.1 the proportion of Muslims in high posts is 8.5 per cent whereas in West Bengal where the Muslim population is 25.2 per cent the proportion of Muslims is merely 1.2 per cent.
To discuss on each and every parameter to establish that Muslims fare far better in Gujarat is neither required nor possible to enumerate in a letter. Your editorial mentions that Modi should be open to verification of his claims of inclusive development. The above mentioned facts clearly demonstrate that better governance in Gujarat has been translated into a better life for all the people in Gujarat, including the minorities. Your editorial recommends open verification of the claims. The high-powered committee appointed by the Prime Minister has to a great extent not only verified the claims but also clearly established that these claims are true.
V. Thiruppugazh, Commissioner of Information & Additional CEO Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority Government of Gujarat