Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Muslim representation on decline

The release of 2011 census data of religious communities by the registrar-general and the census commissioner of India last week has sparked off debate on its political ramifications, especially when the proportion of Muslims to total population has increased modestly in contrast to the slight decline in the percentage of Hindus. In absolute terms, however, the population of Hindus at 96.63 crore is 5.6 times that of the Muslims (17.22 crore) as per the latest census. 

There is no cause for alarm, though, because the decennial growth rate of Muslims during 2001-2011 has declined compared to earlier decades. Moreover, the growth rate of Muslims is in tune with that of the majority community in the Hindi belt and the southern states. The Muslim growth rates are declining faster in the southern states in tune with the trends for other communities. In the northern states, the decline in growth rate for Muslims is somewhat sluggish, again in keeping with the corresponding rate for other communities. 

The religion-wise data for 2011 is bound to be interpreted differently by the demographers, social scientists and politicians. But, the stark reality evident from the 2014 general elections is that amidst the growth in the numbers of Muslims across the country, there is a sharp decline in the representation of this largest minority community in the Lok Sabha. Thus, in the 16th Lok Sabha, there are only 23 MPs belonging to the Muslim minority. Their share in the total strength of 543 members of Lok Sabha thus comes to a measly 4.2 percent. 

There is, certainly, large-scale under-representation of Muslims compared to their population proportion of 14.2 percent. The community must have at least 77 MPs in the Lok Sabha but their number is only 23, accounting for a deficit of 54 members. There is no question of proportional representation for the minorities or other communities under the Constitution, except the reservations provided to Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs). But, the 16th Lok Sabha does not truly reflect the community and caste composition of the country's population, especially the Other Backward Classes (BCs) and the religious minorities. 

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Muslim MPs were elected only from seven states—West Bengal (8 members), Bihar (4), Jammu & Kashmir & Kerala (3 each), Assam (2) and Tamil Nadu and Telangana (one each), besides one from the union territory of Lakshadweep. These 8 sates and UT account for almost 46 percent of Muslim population in the country. These states have 179 Lok Sabha seats. 

Surprisingly, there is no representation of Muslims from the remaining 22 States and six UTs, including Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi. These 28 unrepresented states and UTs account for 54 percent of Muslim population in India and have 364 Lok Sabha seats. 

Out of the 37 parties represented in the Lok Sabha, only 11 parties have MPs belonging to Muslim community. These include Congress and Trinamool Congress (4 Muslim MPs each), PDP (Kashmir) (3), AIUDF (Assam), IUML (Kerala), CPI-M & NCP (2 each), AIMIM, AIADMK, RJD and LJP (one each). Incidentally, 26 other parties have no representation of Muslims in the Lok Sabha. These parties include the ruling BJP and its allies like Shiv Sena, TDP and Akali Dal, besides TRS, YSRCP, BJD, SP, AAP, JD (U) and CPI. The only NDA constituent with a Muslim MP is LJP of Ram Bilas Paswan. 

The Indian Constitution confers the right of adult franchise on every citizen. Nobody can disenfranchise Indian citizens, whether they are Muslims and other minorities. However, the BJP and allies have shown that without disenfranchising Muslims and other minorities, they can disempower them by denying them tickets to contest the polls on the one hand and by ensuring the defeat of minority candidates fielded by other parties on the other. This is what exactly happened in the 2014 general elections. 

Now, the time has come for all political parties, as well as all secular-minded Indians, irrespective of their community, to ponder over the future of the minorities in this country if the Hindutva forces further consolidate their base to entrench themselves in power for many more years to come. 

Indian democracy will become non-inclusive if almost one-fifth (19.3 percent) of the country's population, comprising mainly Muslim, Christian and Buddhist minorities, remains under-represented in the Lok Sabha. This is a challenge to both the minorities and the Indian polity to preserve and promote the country's secular ethos and to make every community an equal partner in the nation's progress and prosperity through their adequate representation in the Parliament and state legislatures. 

Muslim student dropouts higher than SCs/STs

HYDERABAD: Muslim students from Telangana lag behind scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and other backward classes due to very high drop-out rates (ADOR), says the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA). 

While the general ADOR among students pursing secondary education in the state in 2013-14 period stood at 17.43 per cent, the ADOR in the Muslim community was almost twice as high, recorded at 30.95 per cent. This is much higher than the ADOR of 16 per cent seen in the SCs, 15.58 per cent witnessed among the STs and 18.69 among the OBCs. 

The trend of Muslims dropping-out in higher secondary stage of education was similar. Data recorded shows that while the general ADOR stands at 13.43 per cent, the rate is much higher in the Muslim community which has been recorded as 16.35 per cent. This, again, is significantly higher than the ADOR seen in SCs, which stands at 9.93 per cent, the STs at 13.56 per cent, and OBCs, recorded as 10.18 per cent. 

A gender-wise glance at figures show that boys from the Muslim community tended to drop-out of school more than those from the SCs and STs. The annual drop-out rate in the secondary state of education among the Muslim community stood at 32.29 percent while the rate seen among the SCs was 16.78 per cent, STs was 16.28 per cent and among OBCs it was recorded as 19.3 per cent. A similar pattern was observed among girl students from the Muslim community. The report also recorded that the annual drop-out rate among boys from the Muslim community was higher that that of girls from the same community. 

The enrolment of Muslims students in the primary and upper primary stages of education in the undivided state of Andhra Pradesh in 2013-14 lagged behind the SCs, STs and OBCs. While the percentage of SC enrolment in primary and upper primary classes stood at 17 per cent and 19.6 per cent respectively, the enrolment of Muslim students in primary and upper primary classes was recorded at 12.1 per cent and 10.9 per cent respectively. This is also lower than the enrolment rate of the OBCs which stood at 41.4 per cent in primary and 45.3 per cent in upper primary classes. 

Speaking to TOI over the phone, NUEPA's Dr A C Mehta, who is associated with the study said that data was collected from all kinds of schools, including government, private aided and even unrecognised schools. "The study was recently released. We have considered all kinds of schools. However, we have not delved into the reason for students dropping out," he said. 

Meanwhile, educationalists opined that one of the reasons behind the high ADOR in the Muslim community was on account of financial constraints. "It is usually seen that boys from weaker sections in the Muslim community are pulled out of school to augment the family's income. They are put to work in small garages as the helpers of mechanics, among other things. When the family cannot afford two meals a day, how will they pay school or college fee," an expert said. 

Times View 

The Centre must take note of the high drop-out rate among Muslim students. It should also seriously consider the long standing demand of making pre-matric and post-matric scholarships demand driven as against the present system of budgetary allocation. This would encourage a larger number of students to apply for and avail scholarships. As a consequence, education would be more accessible to those from the weaker sections.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

New Education Policy: Survey on Open and Distance Learning and Online Courses

The Ministry of HRD has entrusted the responsibility of developing Draft Policy on Open and Distance Learning and Online Courses to IGNOU.In this connection you are requested to provide us your valuable feedback in the questionnaire relevant to you available at below link:

We shall be thankful for your cooperation in this regard.