Indian Muslims: The Poorest Group in Modi's Hindu Rashtra

Muslims are the poorest group in India. They will most likely face further marginalization after the recent inauguration of the Ram Temple built on the ruins of the historic Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. The medieval mosque was demolished by right-wing Hindu groups in 1992. While consolidating the power of the upper caste Hindus in India, the newly built Ram Temple, inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will also not benefit the vast majority of Hindus either. It will, however, help Mr. Modi's BJP party win the upcoming election by a wide margin. 

Average Monthly Per Capita Consumption Expenditure in India. Source...

Analysis of 2021-22 data from AIDIS (All India Debt and Investment Survey) and PLFS (Periodic Labor Force Survey) shows that Indian Muslims have the lowest asset and consumption levels among major religious groups in the country. Even upper caste Muslims (Ashrafs) are poorer than Hindu OBCs (Other Backward Castes). 

Average MPCE (Monthly Per Capita Consumption Expenditure) for Muslims is only Rs. 2,170, lower than Rs. 2,470 for Hindus, Rs. 3,194 for Christians and Rs. 3,620 for Sikhs.  Average MPCE for upper caste Hindus is Rs. 3,321, the highest of all groups. 

Average Monthly Per Capita Consumption Expenditure by Caste in Indi...

The economic inequality is the lowest among Muslims, far lower than among various Hindu castes. Average MPCE for lower caste Muslims is Rs. 2,164 while it is Rs. 2,180 for upper caste Muslims (Ashrafs). Inequality among Hindu castes is the highest. Lower caste Hindus average MPCE is only Rs. 2,095, far lower than Rs. 3,321 for upper caste Hindus. 

India is almost totally dominated by the upper caste Hindus. It is not just the 220 million Dalits (untouchables), or the 190 million Muslims, or the 110 million from “scheduled tribes” (Adivasis)  who are under-represented in positions of power and privilege, but also the 40-50% of Hindus who come from the widest tier of the pyramid, the shudras or laboring castes, known as Other Backwards Classes (OBCs), according to a report in The Economist Magazine. Here's an excerpt from The Economist:

"Out of the 89 highest-ranked civil servants in the central government, according to a recent survey, just four are not upper-caste Hindus, and not one is an obc. Two-thirds of the Supreme Court’s 31 judges and more than half of all state governors are high-caste Hindus. When the home ministry recently formed a panel to revise the criminal code, its five experts were all men, all from north India and all from upper castes. The trend is just as stark outside of government. A study published last year of the mainstream Hindi and English press revealed that out of 121 people in senior jobs, such as editors, all but 15 were upper caste. Not a single one was a Dalit."


PS: Since I published this post in January this year, there has been a barrage of comments (all rejected) claiming without evidence that the Indian Muslims are richer than Pakistani Muslims. The fact is that the average monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) in Pakistan was PKR 5,959 in 2019-20, the year closest to the 2021-22 for which the Indian MPCE data is available. Using the 2019 average exchange rate of 2.136 PKR to INR, this works out to MPCE of INR 2,789 in Pakistan, higher than for Indian Hindus (INR 2,470) and Muslims (INR 2,170).  As to the cost of living in the two countries, Pakistan is 15.8% cheaper than India without rent and 20.1% cheaper with rent, according to Numbeo

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Comment by Riaz Haq on January 29, 2024 at 8:21pm

‘Too much poison’: Attacks on Indian Muslims grow after Ram temple ceremony | Islamophobia | Al Jazeera

As India marks Republic Day, many fear the dawn of a new nation where minorities are made to feel like ‘rubbish’.

Mumbai, India – Driving through the Mira Road neighbourhood of Mumbai was a usual affair for 21-year-old Mohammad Tariq, who ran errands on his father’s white loading auto carrier.

But on Tuesday, participants in a Hindu nationalist rally stopped the vehicle in the middle of the road. Young boys – mostly teenagers – dragged him out. They punched and kicked him and thrashed him with batons, flag staffs and iron chains, his 54-year-old father, Abdul Haque told Al Jazeera. Since then, Haque said, “[Tariq] has been terrified.”

The rally, which was shared over multiple live streams, turned into a mob, targeting several Muslims in the locality, rampaging through their shops and damaging vehicles while chanting “Jai Shri Ram” (Victory to Lord Ram). Similar rallies, often to the beat of booming far-right pop music, took place outside mosques and Muslim neighbourhoods across several states in India.

The trigger was the consecration of a Ram temple in the ancient city of Ayodhya in northern India by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday. The temple is being built on the site where the 16th century Babri Masjid stood until 1992, when Hindu far-right mobs tore down the mosque, triggering nationwide riots that killed more than 2,000 people, mostly Muslims.

Addressing the country from Ayodhya, Modi said that the “wheel of time” had turned, rejecting criticism over the increased religious tensions that have been simmering in India since he came to power in 2014. “Ram is not a problem but a solution,” he said. “We are laying the foundation of India for the next 1,000 years. We take a pledge to build a capable, grand, divine India from this moment.”

Yet, as India celebrates its Republic Day on January 26, the inauguration of the temple, the Indian state’s role in it, and the violence and vandalism that religious minorities have faced since then are, to many, markers of a country that has moved away from the Constitution adopted this day in 1950.

Soon after the consecration, a Muslim graveyard was set ablaze in the north Indian state of Bihar, a Muslim man was paraded naked in southern India, and a saffron flag representing militant Hinduism – was hoisted atop a church in central India.

“This country is increasingly unrecognisable to me, where Muslims are like rubbish for them,” said Haque, on his way to a police station with his son after the Tuesday attack. “There were so many people [during the Mira Road attack] but no one stopped them from beating my child. It is shameful for society. It is a city of the blind.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 29, 2024 at 8:22pm

Narendra Modi is celebrating his scary vision for India’s future - Vox

National festivities this week danced on Indian secularism’s grave — and pointed to an existential threat to Indian democracy.

By Zack Beauchamp

On Monday, tens of millions across India celebrated the opening of the Ram Mandir — a huge new temple to Ram, one of Hinduism’s holiest figures, built in the city of Ayodhya where many Hindus believe he was born.

The celebration in Ayodhya, presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, attracted some of India’s richest and most famous citizens. But in the pomp and circumstance, few dwelled explicitly on the grim origins of Ram Mandir: It was built on the site of an ancient mosque torn down by a Hindu mob in 1992.

Many of the rioters belonged to the RSS, a militant Hindu supremacist group to which Modi has belonged since he was 8 years old. Since ascending to power in 2014, Modi has worked tirelessly to replace India’s secular democracy with a Hindu sectarian state.

The construction of a temple in Ayodhya is the exclamation point on an agenda that has also included revoking the autonomy long provided to the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir, creating new citizenship and immigration rules biased against Muslims, and rewritten textbooks to whitewash Hindu violence against Muslims from Indian history.

Modi has also waged war on the basic institutions of Indian democracy. He and his allies have consolidated control over much of the media, suppressed critical speech on social media, imprisoned protesters, suborned independent government agencies, and even prosecuted Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi on dubious charges.

For many Hindus, the inauguration of the Ram Mandir was a meaningful religious event. But viewed from a political point of view, the event looks like a grim portrait of Modi’s India in miniature: a monument to an exclusive vision of Hinduism built on the ruins of one of the world’s most remarkable secular democracies.

Understanding the temple’s story is thus essential to understanding one of the most important issues of our time: how democracy has come under existential threat in its largest stronghold.

How the Ayodhya temple dispute gave rise to Modi’s India
The dispute over Ayodhya has become a flashpoint in modern Indian politics because it speaks to a fundamental ideological question: Who is India for?

The relevant history here starts in the early 16th century, when a Muslim descendant of Genghis Khan named Babur invaded the Indian subcontinent from his small base in central Asia. Babur’s conquests inaugurated the Mughal Empire, a dynasty that would reign in what is now India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh for generations. At least a remnant of the Mughal state survived until the British seized India in the 19th century.

The mosque in Ayodhya was a product of the early Mughal Empire, with some evidence suggesting it was built almost immediately after Babur’s forces conquered Ayodhya in 1529. Called the Babri Masjid — literally “Babur’s Mosque” — it was a testament to the impact the Mughal dynasty and its Muslim rulers had on Indian history and culture.

During the British colonial period, different Indian factions diverged sharply on how to remember the Mughal empire.

For Mahatma Gandhi, who led the mainstream independence movement, the Moghul Empire was a testament to India’s history of religious diversity and pluralism. Gandhi praised the Moghul dynasty, especially its early leadership, for adopting religious toleration as a central state policy. “In those days, they [Hindus and Muslims] were not known to quarrel at all,” he said in 1931, blaming current sectarian tensions on British colonial policy.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 20, 2024 at 10:05pm

Since I published this post in January this year, there has been a barrage of comments (all rejected) claiming without evidence that the Indian Muslims are richer than Pakistani Muslims. The fact is that the average monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) in Pakistan was PKR 5,959 in 2019-20, the year closest to the 2021-22 for which the Indian MPCE data is available. Using the 2019 average exchange rate of 2.136 PKR to INR, this works out to MPCE of INR 2,789 in Pakistan, higher than for Indian Hindus (INR 2,470) and Muslims (INR 2,170). As to the cost of living in the two countries, Pakistan is 15.8% cheaper than India without rent and 20.1% cheaper with rent, according to Numbeo.


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