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Deprivation and exclusion: a reflection on socio-economic status and political representation of Muslims in West Bengal.

Socio-economic condition and political representation is an important indicator to measure the development level of any community. This paper is based on the secondary data. The main objective of the study is to explore the socio-economic condition and political representation of Muslims of West Bengal Though there is paucity of literature and data about this backward community, it is an attempt to gather the data from various sources and put together in a systematic fashion and analysed. Indicators such as population, urban population, sex ratio, literacy, educational attainment, work participation rate and political representation are discussed. Hence, one can easily understand the plight of the community who are the victims of a process of invidious discrimination in Indian society. The study finds Muslims are poor, educationally deprived and politically excluded in the state.


India is a plural society. People belonging to many religions like Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Christianity live in this country since time immemorial. Muslims constitute the largest minority community with 14 per cent population of this country at the end of 2001 census. They are not only the largest minority community, but their presence is visible in all the states and union territories. Nonetheless, discrimination, social stagnation and educational marginalisation have cumulatively resulted in growing economic backwardness of the Muslims in larger parts of the country (Sikand, 2007). This largest minority community has been relegated to the lowest socio-economic stratum in the post-independent India. More often the community has become the victim of pogrom in which innumerable Muslims are killed; their shops are burned, their women are beaten and raped and their property is destroyed and looted. Muslims had been the victims of a process of invidious discrimination. As considerable evidence exists, a process of marginalisation of minority communities exists in almost all societies and there is nothing warrant that the same is not true of Muslims in India to a greater or a lesser degree (Ahmad, 2007:3703-3704). Muslims have negligible influence on the process of economic development (Beg, 1989: 116-131). There is widely held belief that Muslims have remained largely unaffected by the process of economic development and social change that have been taking place in the country and their general economic condition has been deteriorating progressively (Ahmad, 1975: 231-255). In this regard W. W. Hunter wrote, "... earlier it was impossible for a well born Musalman to become poor; at present it is almost impossible for him to continue rich" (Hunter, 1969:175). This socio-economic backwardness of Muslims is not merely confirmed by the individual researches and surveys, and voluntary organizations but also by various Committees appointed by Government of India from time to time. The High Power Panel under the chairmanship of Dr. Gopal Singh, set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs in the early 1980 to enquire into social and economic conditions of the Indian minorities, they found Muslims are backward. After 23 years, again this is evident from the findings of the Prime Minister's High Level Committee under the chairmanship of Justice Rajinder Sachar, constituted to enquire into socio-economic and educational status of Muslims (GOI, 2006). However, there appears a substantial difference in the socio-economic and political representation of major religious communities in India. Among all the religious communities, Muslims are the most socio-economically underdeveloped and politically under-representated community in Indian society. It has been noted by several scholars that the underprivileged sections of this numerically significant minority group has not received social and political support from the state, if their position is compared with their counter part in the Hindu community (Dasgupta, 2009: 91-96).

In West Bengal, Muslims are not the exceptions. There is a marked scarcity of sociological inquiry on the Muslim community in the state (Moinuddin, 2000: 22). Moreover, no sociological inquiry has been made on Muslims to analyse the socio-economic and their political representation as a whole. They are educationally most backward, economically poor and politically a powerless community of the country in general and of West Bengal in particular (Mainuddin, 2008). Although they constitute 25% of the total population of the state, yet no political party and religious leaders are known to have taken active interest in the social, economic and educational progress of the community and ensuring them safety and security. However, of late, some exclusionary state policies are drawing lines between the majority and the minority communities. This is one of the factors that led to the marginalisation of Muslims in West Bengal (Dasgupta, 2009). There is persistent under-representation of Muslims in central and state legislature (Hasan, 2009:127).

Against this prelude it is known that socio-economic differentials in India at the level of religious aggregation is simplistic and not advisable. However, academic research has to reflect the socio-economic and cultural realities of its age. The contemporary politicisation of religion is such that a new focus which can be called as 'political economy and political demography of religions' is the need of the hour (Shariff, 1995: 2947-2949). This paper aims to analyse the socioeconomic condition and political representation of Muslims in India in general and of West Bengal in particular by using census data and date acquired from other secondary sources.

Indices of Socio-Economic Condition of Muslims

The focus of this study is on West Bengal due to these reasons (a) Concentration of Muslim Minority population in West Bengal is higher than other states except Madhya Pradesh; (b) In terms of Muslim population West Bengal ranks third among all states and Union Territories; (c) The left front government is committed to secular principles and its electoral manifesto emphasises upliftment of deprived section of the population.

In order to analyse the socio-economic condition and political representation of the Muslim community, many broad indicators can be utilised. But it is reported that there is dearth of data on Indian Muslims. Unfortunately, however, the leading data collection agencies in the country, namely, the Registrar General's Office and the National Sample Survey, do not provide data by religion on grounds of political considerations though the data is available with them (Ahmad, 1981:1457-1465). But, recently, census of India 2001 for the first time in post-independent India, has come out with religion-wise data on few socio-economic indicators like, sex-ratio, literacy level and workers. Hence, this study is limited to demographic, urban population, sex ratio, literacy rate, educational attainment, work participation rate and political representation of the community in the state.

Distribution of Muslim Population

West Bengal occupies third position among various states and union territories of the country in terms of percentage of Muslim population (i.e. 25 per cent) after Jammu & Kashmir (67 per cent) and Assam (30 per cent). However, Muslims are not evenly distributed in all the districts of the state. There are 10 districts of state in which Muslims have million plus population. Districts of the state are arranged in descending order in terms of the percentage of Muslim population in Table 1.

It is evident from the table that the highest concentration of Muslim population is found in the district of Murshidabad and their lowest percentage is in Darjeeling. Out of the 18 districts (19th district was created after census of India 2001 i.e., Mednipur was divided into two districts East Mednipur and West Mednipur) there are six such districts where percentage of Muslim population is more than the state average. They are Murshidabad, Malda, Uttar Dinajpur, Birbhum, South 24 Parganas and Nadia. In rest of the districts where Muslims form 5% or more but less than the state average (25.24%) are Haora, Kuch Bihar, North 24 Parganas, Dakshin Dinajpur, Kolkata, Bardhaman, Hugli, Mednipur, Jalpaiguri, Bankura, Purulia and Darjeeling. The data also reveals that there are three districts namely Murshidabad, Malda and Uttar Dinajpur may rightly be called 'Muslim Concentration District' as they constitute about half of the Muslim population of the districts.

Urban Muslims

According to 2001 census, Muslims national average of urbanisation is 35%, which is quite higher than the national average of 27%. In contrary only 16 % Muslims of West Bengal live in urban areas. Hence, their rate of urbanisation is 29 percentage points less than that of Indian Muslims. In other words, it can be said that Muslims of West Bengal are largely rural community as 83% Muslims live in villages. Being, a rural community they are poor, landless and educationally backward.

It is quite evident from the data that none of district is having a significant urban population in any one of these districts. In almost all the districts the urban percentage is less than 30% except Howrah (47.37%). The highest urban concentration of Muslims is in the district of Kolkata i.e. 100% (because Kolkata is a metropolitan city) and lowest in Dakshin Dinajpur i.e. 0.43%. There are four districts in which their percentage lies in between 20-30% and these districts are Darjeeling, Bardhaman, Norh 24 Parganas and Hugli. In remaining 12 districts their urban population is less than 20% and these districts are Jalpaiguri, Kooch Bihar, Uttar Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad, Birbhum, Nadia, Bankura, Purulia (14.7), Jalpaiguri and Mednipur. Though Muslims constitute 16% population in urban areas of West Bengal, they are largely concentrated in slums areas and engaged in menial works. In this regard M.K.A. Siddiqui notes that "a comparatively higher percentage of Muslims in urban areas may be explained on the basis of their culture allowing mobility and less inhibited contact as also the 'push' factor, but despite the fact that they constitute the back bone of urban economy, their share in prosperity remains marginal" (Siddiqui, 1998:1).

This is not at all a positive indicator for the proper presentation of rural-urban Muslims in West Bengal. It can be inferred from the preceding discussion that urbanisation rate of Muslims in West Bengal is very low. This is contrary to the trend which is found among Muslims in other parts of the country. Since the rural areas of West Bengal are not properly developed, socio-economic condition of Muslims in West Bengal is bound to be poor.

Sex Ratio

Sex-ratio is an important social indicator; demographers generally use this to depict the proportionate share of female in the population sample. Sex ratio is defined as number of females per thousand males. The sex ratio of population of a country or a community is an important indicator for measuring their socio-economic condition as well as the extent of prevailing equality between males and females at a given point of time.

Declining sex ratio is one of the serious problems for a country or a community. At present, India is one of the country, which is facing the problem of declining sex ratio and West Bengal is no exception. The menace of declining sex ratio has surfaced due to the conglomeration of various factors, which inter alia are female infanticide; taking less care of the female child and of lactating mothers; poor availability of nutritious food; high rate of child mortality; preference of male child over female child because girl child is regarded as liability; easier availability of sex determination tools; religious preference for sons (Jawaid: 2007:33).

The trend of sex ratio in West Bengal is an exception as it shows a continuous trend of increasing sex ratio from 865 in 1951 to 934 in 2001. Average sex ratio in West Bengal is 934 i.e., one point more than national average i.e., 933 as per census 2001.

Among the various religious communities, while the Muslim sex ratio is 933 which is one point more than the Hindus (i.e., 932). The most unfavorable sex ratio is among Sikhs (807). While sex ratio among other religious groups are 981 for Buddhists, 929 for Jains. Only Christians, having favourable sex ratio of 1002 females per 1000 males. This trend is somewhat similar to the national scenario for sex ratio among various religious groups.

But the sex ratio is not uniform as it varies from one district to another. There are two districts which have same and highest sex ratio of 958 among the Muslims is Murshidabad and Hugli. There are 12 districts having Muslim Sex ratio more than the state average, they are Murshidabad (958), Hugli (958), Dakshin-Dinajpur (956), Koch Bihar (954), Medinipur (953), Birbhum (952), Maldah (950), Uttar Dinajpur (950), South 24 Parganas (948), Jalpaiguri (941), Nadia (938) and Purulia (935). Though prima facie higher sex ratio seems to be an encouraging fact, but the underlying reason proves to be a gloomy scenario. Several researches have brought to light that due to the male- selective out- migration process in these districts, the sex ratio got such a status. It means, for economic reasons more male than female migrates nearby urban centres like Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. In remaining districts, the sex ratio is less than the state average and these districts are North 24 Parganas (929), Bankura (924), Bardhaman (920), Haora (910), Darjeeling (868) and Kolkata (739). The sex ratio among Muslims in West Bengal shows an edge over majority community. It indicates that factors like infanticide, foeticide, child mortality rate and practice of child preference are less prevails among Muslims. It also implies that status of Muslim women in the family is somehow better as compared to other religious community. Nevertheless, Muslims of West Bengal are socio-economically backward.

Literacy Rate

The literacy rate in West Bengal is not so bad and it is higher than the national average. The literacy rate in West Bengal is 68.64% against the national average of 64.85%. Rural literacy rate in West Bengal is 63.42% and in Urban part of the West Bengal literacy rate is 81.25%. As literacy rate in rural areas is less than the urban areas and also Muslims of West Bengal are rural community hence, we can say that Muslims are educationally backward.

There is also inter-religious inequality in literacy level (Waheed: 2006:45). Hence, it would be apt to examine where the different minority group stand in terms of literacy (Jawaid: 2007: 6). The data indicates that the literacy rate of Muslims is the lowest (i.e. 57.47%) among the six religious groups in West Bengal while that of the Jains the highest i.e. 92.81%. Sikhs occupy the second position with literacy rate of 87.19% and third position by Buddhists with literacy rate of 74.73%. Christians occupy the fifth position having literacy rate of 69.72%, more than state average. The crux of the above discussion leads to the conclusion that Muslims are the educationally most backward among all.

Likewise, within community literacy rate also differs from one district to another. Muslims have lower literacy rate than the state average in most of the districts. In Hugli there is highest level of literacy rate i.e. 73.50% and lowest literacy rate is found in the district of Uttar Dinajpur i.e 36.04%. While Bardhaman occupies the second highest position in terms of literacy rate. In both the districts Hugli and Bardhaman the Muslims literacy rate is higher than the state average. In remaining districts the literacy rate of Muslims is less than the state average (68.64%). The districts like Kolkata, Haora, Dakshin Dinajpur, North 24 Parganas and Mednipur have literacy rate less than state average but more than 60%. In above mentioned districts, the literacy rate of Muslims is though more than 60% but the important dimension is that in Hugli which have the highest literacy rate of Muslims constitute only 15.14% of Muslim population and Haora with 24.44% of Muslim population show literacy rate little less than state average. While in rest of the districts, the literacy rate is not so good and these districts are Bankura, Birbhum, Kooch Bihar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, South 24 Parganas and Purulia with literacy rate in between 50-60%. The literacy rate in three districts namely Nadia, Murshidabad and Malda is low and it lies between 40-50%. Out of these three districts, two districts that is Murshidabad (63.67%) and Malda (49.72%) constituted more than 50% Muslim population but lowest literacy rate. It is because of this unique combination (of high Muslims population and low Muslims literacy rate), it can be deducted that as the concentration of Muslim population increases in the districts, the literacy rate decreases. This is one of the negative capabilities for the socio-economic development of any community as emphasised in Human Development Report, 2004 (UNDP:2004:127).

Educational Level

Education plays a significant role in the dissemination of modern attitudes, values, approach and rational outlook (Khurshid, 2008). Educational level of a society or a community cannot be judged from its literacy rate, though it is an important indicator for making a distinction between literate and non-literate. A literate person is not defined on the basis of his/her educational attainment but only on the basis of knowledge of reading or writing any of the languages. Thus observed Prime Minister High Level Committee "External evaluations indicate that many so-called literates did not have the ability to apply their reading and writing skills to real-life situations, and often a substantial proportion reverted to illiteracy within 4-5 years after leaving school". This aspect is not taken into account by the Census definition. In contrast, the definition of the National Literacy Mission focuses on acquiring the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic and the ability to apply them to one's day-to-day life" (GOI, 2006: 50-51).

Thus, it is important to analyse educational attainment of population. Educational attainment refers to acquiring education in a systematic way through formal and informal education. There are various levels of education but we take the following levels like below primary, primary, middle, matric, higher secondary and graduate. Though census of India 2001 for the first time after Independence provides age wise educational level data of religious communities, we have analysed, above mentioned educational level in the age group seven and above. For example, percentage of below primary level education is computed with total population of the state or a community.

It must be noted here that total population of the state in the age group of seven and above is 6,87,61,975 while Muslims constitute 1,64,64,543.

It is evident from the calculated data that the average state percentage of people who have attained below primary level education is 23.77%. While Muslims show 27.58% share in this category which is 4% higher than the state average. In below primary school education presence of Muslim community is not higher only in West Bengal. Many studies reveal that in this category Madarasa and Maktabs are included and Muslims are used to prefer to send their children in these institutions.

At primary level, the state average is 16.65%. While Muslims are 1% less (15.15%) than the state average. At middle level, the state average is 11.71%. Muslims share in middle level education is 7.28% which is just half of Hindus and four percentage point less than the state average. At matric level, state average is 7.07%. Muslims show much lower percentage with only 3.46% in this category. At higher secondary level, the state average is 3.33%. While Muslims show poor share with only 1.17%. In graduate level, the state average is 4.63 per cent. While Muslims (1.19%) are 3% less than the state average. From the above discussion it is clear that as the education level increases the educational attainment of Muslims decreases. While the majority community have higher educational achievement as compared to the state as well as Muslims in all educational level except below primary level.

It is pertinent to note here that Muslims are educationally most backward community in West Bengal lags behind other religious group. This empirical finding of Muslims educational backwardness is still supported by the various research studies by sociologists, political scientists, educationists, individual researchers and government reports from time to time. In pre-independent India, in the light of quantitative and qualitative data gathered by scholars like Anti Seal, Aparna Basu, Paul Brass, David Lelyved, and Hafiz Malik, it can be generalised that the Muslim students population in modem high school was not proportionate to the Muslim numerical strength in the provinces of Bengal. This means that even in pre-independence period, Muslims share in overall educational scenario of the country was meager. This was also supported by an important work about Muslims by William Wilson Hunter's famous book, The Indian Musalmans, published in 1871 whose findings about Muslims educational lag was true only for Bengal (Khalidi, 1995: 108).

After independence various Census reports, government findings and many research papers confirm the popular impressions about Muslim lag in education in West Bengal. The notable feature of the Bengal Muslim educational problem is their abnormally low share at higher levels of education. The higher the education the rare is the share of Muslims (Mondal, 1994:152).22 This backwardness of the Muslims and their continued downwards mobility in the field of education, particularly in a great metropolis like Kolkata which has throughout been a centre of learning would, perhaps, appear paradoxical (Siddiqui, 1998). The underlying factors responsible for this sorry state of affairs are; high rural poverty and high concentration of Muslims in rural areas. The situation has been further exacerbated with the steady decline of industry in West Bengal, but continued migration into it from east UP and Bihar. Thus, Muslims are almost totally dependent on the state for education, and this has made for some unexpected and poignant outcomes (Hasan & Menon, 2005). Dr Safiuddin Joardar has further elaborated it by saying, "it is possible that the poverty of the Bengali Muslims militated against their taking to modem education which was quite expensive. It should also be remembered that the Muslims of West Bengal were predominantly rural, and it was not easy for them to send their sons to Calcutta to receive modern education" (Joardar, 1980: 8-9). The Prime Minister High Level Committee found that "Muslims are at a double disadvantage with low levels of education combined with low quality education; their deprivation increases manifold as the level of education rises. In some instances the relative share for Muslims is lower than even the SCs who are victims of a long standing caste system. Such relative deprivation calls for a significant policy shift, in the recognition of the problem and in devising corrective measures, as well as in the allocation of resources" (GOI, 2006: 50).

Muslim Work Participation Rate in West Bengal

Work Participation Rate (WPR) is an important indicator of development. It provides an idea of the extent of people's participation in economic activity or their rate of employment. In short, the more is WPR of the population, the greater would be its development. WPR of the population is not determined by single factor but by multiple factors. Ownership of physical assets, human capital, and location of individuals in a given socio-economic structure, availability of work opportunities and other such factors play important role in determining WPR. Indeed, one could gauge holistic development of the population through its WPR.

Average WPR of West Bengal is 36.77%. Whereas the condition of Muslims is a cause of concern as they have four percentage points less WPR than state average. Condition are worse in rural areas. The average state WPR in urban areas is 33.85% and Muslim lag by one percentage point, whereas in rural areas the average state WPR is 37.90% and Muslim lag by five percentage points. This shows the poor economic condition of Muslims in the state.

Another important fact is that WPRs for male in both rural and urban areas for Hindus and Muslims are fairly high. While female WPRs are substantially lower at state level and in both rural and urban areas. For example, the WPR among rural Muslim females is as low as 14.66% while this rate is 20.86% at state level. Similarly, the urban WPR for females is only 10.48% for Muslims, while it is 11.57% for the state. Though this gap is not wide but female WPR for Muslims is less than majority Hindus. The low aggregate work participation rate for Muslims are essentially due to much lower participation in economic activity by women in the community (GOI, 2006). Apart from this the lack of education and work opportunities for females, the cultural factors such as the practice of purdha and seclusion might have affected the female WPRs at state level (Khalidi, 1995: 67).

Political Representation

Political representation is an important socio-economic indicator to measure the condition of a community within a society. Political participation is another indicator of a community's empowerment. In a democracy, the legislature is the fountain head of power. The fact is that the Muslim community is inadequately or simply under-represented in general legislatures and even in the Lok Sabha. Its representation is less than 50 per cent of what it should be, assessed as per the share in the population. Besides being an excluded group, absence of legislature from any social group in a plural society puts the group at a clear disadvantage (Shariff and Azam, 2004: 77). Muslims in India are politically powerless community (Mainuddin, 2008). They are under-represented in the parliament and state legislature. Their under-representation in Indian politics has never been considered as a problem and hence it needs solution unlike schedule caste and schedule tribe. On the eve of election, Muslims are often refered as 'pampered community' and the government's promises, though seldom fulfilled, are criticised as 'minorityism'. The vitiated communal atmosphere posses more threat to the security of this minority community (Fazle, 1998:33-36). Instead of the "adult franchise", Indian Muslims, are exploited due to their illiteracy, ignorance, and poverty, ill-representation in panchayats, state and central legislatures. They stand politically disinherited. It is not only Muslim under-representation in elected and public bodies in numerical terms that is so alarming. But rather the fact is that most Muslims who are handpicked to represent Muslims and other Muslim beneficiaries of the official patronage system are those who are generally excluded from the community. Some of them are even ashamed of their Muslimness" (Shaikh, 1989:160-167). Over the years, it has been realised that the government failed to resolve the question of inherent socio-economic discrimination and political marginalisation of Muslims in participating in the national decision making process through power sharing (Beg, 1989).

Though the literature is not available about Muslims political representation and also Government of India does not provide data regarding their political representation. However, an attempt has been made to find out the Muslims representation in the political system of West Bengal which is largely based on the writing of various political scientists, sociologists and journalists.

Though in West Bengal, Muslims representation is better as compared to other states but it is not proportionate to their population. The highest Muslim representation was in the year 1991 i.e. (14.29%) and lowest was in the 1952 (9.66%). In the assembly election in 2001 Muslims have a reasonable representation of 39 members, one less than that in 1996. The data clearly shows that there is no continuous increment in the Muslims representation in the state politics and same is the case at national level. Moreover, one could easily draw the conclusion from the above low number of Muslim members in the West Bengal legislative assembly that political parties have deliberately not allowed the increase in the number of Muslim party members. If they would have shown their strong will to increase their numbers, the situation might have been much better and much publicised allegation of Muslim political exclusion would have not been continued to persist so long.

The discrimination in various socio-economic areas coexists with low political participation. Here again discrimination is seen in the non-inclusion of Muslims in the voter lists and the unfair delimitation exercises wherein Muslim majority constituencies are reserved for the SC category, even when the latter have higher population shares in other constituencies in the states. Consequently, Muslim candidates are not able to contest from Muslim concentrated areas (Besant, 2007: 828-832).

In spite of the strong secular traditions of politics in the state, Muslims political representation is not proportionate to their share in the total population in the state. The numerical deprivation (the level of Muslim deprivation in political representation is calculated under the formula of reservation of seats on the basis of population that Draft Article 292 of the Indian Constitution has sought to guarantee) of Muslims being 43 per cent should make those committed to the ideal of inclusive democracy realise that the electoral system needs to be reviewed (Ansari, 2006: 27,340-341, 378-379).


To conclude, it may once again be emphasised that socio-economic backwardness and political exclusion have given rise to some important questions as far as minority community is concerned. After six decades of independence, Muslims in West Bengal are lagging behind other community in terms of socio-economic condition and politically representation. Though they constitute 25% population in the state and hence they are the second largest religious group in this Indian state. In some districts Muslim constitute more than half of the district population. But the major concern is that they do not constitute the urban bulk of the population as 2001 census data shows that only 16 per cent Muslims live in urban area. Hence, we can say that Muslims of West Bengal are a rural community. Being a rural community they are bound to be socio-economically deprived. Balance sex ratio is an indicator of equal status of men and women. Moreover, it also indicates the level of socio-economic development in a society or within a community. Among the various religious communities the Muslims' sex ratio is 933 which is one point more than the majority community (Hindus: 932). District level data reveals that in almost all districts, sex ratio of this minority community is better than the state average and the majority community. But this does not lead the conclusion that Muslims are socio-economically better in the state. But the possible reason for higher sex ratio is the out-migration of male members of the community to neighbouring states in search of employment. Literacy rates are low among the Muslims in the state and it is worse in those areas where Muslims constitute half or more population of the district. The study also reflects that educational attainment of this minority community is much less as compared to the state average. The study found that as the level of educational level increases the percentage of Muslims educational attainment decreases sharply. This trend of course puts an impediment in the development of the community as education is supposed to be the main instrument for bringing about social, economic and political inclusion and durable integration of people particularly those 'excluded', from the mainstream of any society. The WPR of Muslims is less than the state as well as the majority community. But the major concern is low WPR for Muslim women which directly influence the low aggregate of the community's WPR. Muslims in India as well as in West Bengal are politically excluded community. Their political participation in mainstream politics is minimal. Muslims are under-represented in the parliament and state legislature. Their participation in the political process did not increase to the extent what it should be since the inception of first general election. Their political participation is also less in proportion with their population share in the state. However, it needs to be pointed out that without political empowerment, socio-economic development of Muslims will be a utopian approach and vice versa.


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Table 1
Population/Urbar/Sex Ratio/Literacy of Muslims in West Bengal

S. Districts Population Popn. Sex Literacy
No. (%) (%) Ratio (%)

 West Bengal 25.23 16.78 933 57.47

1 Murshidabad 63.67 8.32 958 48.63
2 Maldah 49.72 1.62 950 45.3
3 Uttar Dinajpur 47.36 2.12 950 36.04
4 Birbhum 35.08 4.29 952 59.86
5 South 24 parganas 33.24 13.15 948 59.83
6 Nadia 25.41 3.93 938 49.41
7 Haora 24.44 47.37 910 67.8
8 Koch Bihar 24.23 3.35 954 56.07
9 Noth 24 parganas 24.22 20.90 929 65.05
10 Dakshin Dinajpur 23.93 0.43 956 67.21
11 Kolkata 20.05 100.00 739 68.06
12 Bardhaman 19.78 25.29 920 68.79
13 Hugh 15.14 23.70 958 73.5
14 Medinipur 11.35 11.41 953 64.97
15 Jalpaiguri 10.85 8.63 941 55.34
16 Bankura 7.50 4.54 924 59.91
17 Purulia 7.12 14.70 935 53.44
18 Darjeeling 5.30 29.95 868 50.38

Source: Computed by Author from Census of India, 2001.

Table 2
Distribution of Hindu-Muslim Literates
by Educational Level

Religion Below Primary Middle

Total * 16347698 11449999 8050643
Hindus 11470789 8719791 6671953
Muslims 4541597 2494842 1198591
Total ** (%) 23.77 16.65 11.71
Hindus (%) 22.61 17.19 13.15
Muslims (%) 27.58 15.15 7.28

Religion Matric/ Higher Graduate
 Secondary Secondary & above

Total * 4859685 2287115 3186374
Hindus 4181271 2048622 2932968
Muslims 570473 192216 195192
Total ** (%) 7.07 3.33 4.63
Hindus (%) 8.24 3.53 5.05
Muslims (%) 3.46 1.17 1.19

Note: * Literate includes unclassified educational
levels ** Total (All religious communities) includes
-'Religion not stated'. Source: Census of India, 2001

Table 3
WPR in West Bengal for Hindus and Muslims
by sex and residence


Religion Total Male Female

All Religions 36.77 53.99 18.32
Hindus 37.87 55.26 19.21
Muslims 32.89 50.52 13.99


Religion Total Male Female

All Religions 37.90 54.09 20.86
Hindus 39.63 55.70 22.68
Muslims 32.98 50.44 14.66


Religion Total Male Female

All Religions 33.85 53.74 11.57
Hindus 34.14 54.35 11.71
Muslims 32.40 50.88 10.48

Source: Census of India, 2001

Table 4
Muslim Representation in West Bengal Legislative Assembly

Year Total Muslim Percentage Expected
 Members Members

1952 238 22 9.66 46
1957 252 25 9.92 49
1962 252 27 10.71 50
1967 280 35 12.5 56
1969 280 36 12.86 56
1971 279 29 10.39 57
1972 280 35 12.5 57
1977 294 37 12.59 60
1983 292 36 12.24 63
1987 294 35 11.91 63
1991 294 42 14.29 69
1996 294 40 13.61 69
2001 294 39 13.27 69
 Average -- 438 12.03 764
Deprivation -- -- -- 42.67%

Source: I.A. Ansari, Political Representation of Muslims in
India, 1952-2004, p.342 The data in table 4 indicates the
unfavourable presentation of Muslims in the state.
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Author:Mainuddin, Md.
Publication:Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jun 1, 2011
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