An Overview of Socio Economic Profile of Muslims in Maharashtra

Prof. Vibhuti Patel (Head, Department of Economics, SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai)

Maharashtra’s multicultural milieu is marked by crucial contribution made by Muslims. The Sachar Committee Report, 2006 stated that the condition of Muslim in Maharashtra demands special attention of the state where the Muslim members are the biggest religious minority. Seven surveys commissioned by the Maharashtra State Minority Commission to Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Nirmala Niketan’s College of Social Work of Mumbai University and Research Centre for Women’s Studies of SNDT Women’s University that were submitted in 2011 discovered that a very large proportion of Muslims live in very dismal economic conditions. Nearly 1/3rd of the respondents in the TISS research reported an annual household income of less than Rs.10,000, 24.4% between Rs. 10,001-Rs.20,000, 7.5% between Rs.20,001-Rs.30,000, 3.8% between Rs.30,0001-Rs.40,000, 1% between Rs.40,001-Rs.50,000 and 5.6% above Rs.50,000. In the 21st century, limited occupational diversification is noticed among educated middle class Muslims in the cities of the state due to new openings in IT and construction industry.

As per the census 2011, Maharashtra’s Parbhani and Nanded districts had 30% Muslim population and Malegaon and Bhiwandi were Muslim majority Cities. Mumbra and Kashi mira in thane district are emerging as new hub for economic activities, technical education institutions and community work among Muslims. In Malegaon block of Nashik district, highest percentage of Muslim community is to be found (42.5 %) as a proportion to the total population followed by Bhiwandi in Thane (35.8 %), Nanded (26.5 %), Aurangabad (25.5 %) and Parbhani (25.1 %). Marathwada as a region had a late integration and betrays a story of neglect. In Malegaon of Nashik district Muslims are mainly concentrated in the urban area (70.96%) as compared to rural areas of Malegaon (3.6%). Among the tehsils, highest percentage of Muslim community is found in Shrivardhan tehsil of Raigarh district (20.26%), and nearly similar in percentages in both the rural and urban areas. In Vidarbha region, in Akola, Yavatmal and Amaravati Muslims constitute 8.3% of the total population.

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Work and Employment Profile:

In a state level survey by the Minority Commission in 2011, it was found that nearly 32.4 per cent of Muslims reported as being ‘a worker’ as compared to 42.5 per cent of total population in the state. Among Muslims the work participation rate was reported higher among men (49.97 %) as compared to women (12.67 %). Muslims in rural Maharashtra reported nearly 38.12 per cent as worker as compared to 29.97 per cent in urban areas. Among Muslim men not much difference was observed in rural and urban areas as compared to Muslim women population. Nearly one forth of Muslims women living in rural areas reported as workers, while it was only 6.3 per cent in urban areas.

Among Muslims in Maharashtra, nearly 70.7 per cent engaged in category of work activities such as semi skilled and skilled informal sector work such as carpentry, masonry, electrician, plumber, mechanic, manual labour, coolie job, solid waste management, butchery, weaving, bead-work, jari and embroidery work, tailoring, hawking, petty trade, pulling cycle rickshaws and handcarts, driving four wheelers and heavy vehicles ; nearly 8 per cent as cultivators, mainly small and marginal farmers; 17.6 per cent as agricultural labourers and 3.6 per cent in household industry. The proportion of Muslim population involved in cultivation and agricultural activities is lesser than their counterparts in Hindu as well as total population in Maharashtra, however, Muslim’s involvement in household industry and other category of activities is higher than them. In rural areas a higher percentage of Muslim population has reported as agricultural laborers as compared to Hindu population, while the proportion of Hindu population reported as cultivators is more than double than the Muslim population. Nearly 44 per cent of Muslim women workers reported as agricultural labourers, and their proportion in rural areas is 61.6 per cent. Among Muslim population, the involvement in other category of activities is higher among men as compared to women, in both rural and urban areas. It should be noted that nearly 70 per cent of Muslim population in the state of Maharashtra is found in urban areas where non-agricultural activities dominate.

Unemployment :

Census collects data on persons seeking or available for work among non workers. In 2001 census, those who reported as marginal worker were also asked about seeking or available for work. About 39.9 per cent marginal workers among Muslim community in rural areas reported as seeking/available for work. Among Muslim non-workers, nearly 6 percent reported as ‘job seekers’ in rural areas. The age wise job seekers were highest in 20-24 years followed by 15-19 and 25-29 years. Thus unemployment among Muslim youth is a most challenging problem faced by the state.

In urban areas, Muslim job seekers among marginal and non-workers were little higher as compared to rural areas. The age specific rate of job seekers among marginal workers was observed much higher level as compared to non-workers. Muslim men were found to be actively seeking /available for work in higher percentage than their women counterparts.

As per NSS 61st Round in 2004-05, unemployment rate was found much higher in urban areas with wider difference by gender and community. Muslim men reported nearly two times higher unemployment than their Hindu counterparts. The unemployment rate was higher in urban areas for both men and women as compared to rural areas.

Pattern of Landholding:

In the NSS 60th round in 2004 in which information on land cultivated was collected revealed that ‘having no cultivable land’ percentage was much higher among Muslim household in Maharashtra as compared to their situation in the rest of India. From 1993-94 to 2004-05 the situation remained similar. In 2007-08, land possession data showed that Muslim household possessed less land or no land in higher proportion than Hindu households. In urban areas possession of land was much less.


In Greater Mumbai (NFHS 2 and NFHS 3) and Nagpur (NFHS 3) data were collected from slum and non-slum areas. Both survey clearly show that Muslim household in these districts were living in much higher percentage in slum areas as compared to Hindu and Christian households. Large majority of Muslims in Bhivandi, Mumbai, Malegaon and over 40 towns declared as minority population concentrated, live in ghettos without basic amenities such as safe drinking water, electricity, toilets, proper roads, closed gutters. The ghettoization is detrimental to the long term well-being of the community as well as for national integration. Very small percentage of other minority groups lives in slums. It indicates that majority of Muslim in the cities in Maharashtra is mostly engaged in the low paying skilled, semi skilled or unskilled jobs owing to their low educational qualifications.


As per NSS data of 2007-08, 84.5 per cent women in rural areas and 65.7 per cent in urban areas reported marriage as reason for their migration. The family migration in urban areas is second most dominating reason among females. Among men, economic reason was most dominating reason for migration as reported by nearly 53 per cent in rural and 73 per cent in urban areas. Migration due to education was reported by little higher percentage in urban areas as compared to rural areas. Migration among Muslims women due to economic reasons was reported by about 1.5 per cent in rural areas and 3.5 per cent in urban areas.

Bank loans:

The reluctance of banks to grant loans to Muslims is another factor for their economic backwardness. In all studies commissioned by the Minority Commission, the respondents have stated that in most cases, banks are biased, and there are no well-defined and objective criteria for rejecting loan applications of Muslims resulting into arbitrariness, bureaucratic bungling, corruption and leakage. The average amount of loans banks disbursed to the Muslims is found to be lower than the one given to other minorities, especially Buddhists and Sikhs.

Socio -economic Infrastructure:

Muslims in Maharashtra are a highly deprived community in terms of several socio-economic indices. Their employment pattern is highly skewed towards lower level activities in the tertiary sector with hardly any occupational mobility. The access of Muslims to bank credit is low and inadequate; the community has one of the lowest monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE), and lowest representation in the public sector employment. In response to persistent exclusion of Muslims from development efforts, the Ranganath Mishra Commission Report (2007) had asked for 10% reservation for Muslims in central and state government jobs and 6% within OBC quotas for Muslim OBCs, and the inclusion of Muslim and Christian dalits in the scheduled castes list and Equal Opportunities Commission to be set up expeditiously. But these recommendations are yet to be implemented.

Muslim communities throughout the state have complained that to avail any government scheme, agents charge Rs. 1000/- for fulfillment of formalities/paper work and if the amount is granted by the state, they disappear with money. Hence it is important to monitor the implementation of the schemes thro’ voluntary organizations/NGOs/potential beneficiaries.

The Muslim community lags behind severely in political representation. The number of Muslim MLAs is 5. The number of Muslim MLCs is 11. Representation of Muslims in Indian Administrative Services has been less than 1% for the last three decades. The number of Muslims in Maharashtra cadre IAS in 2011-12 is one among total 288 IAS officers. One Muslim officer resigned in July 2011. The sanctioned strength for IAS officers is 350 – there is a shortfall of 62 officers in the cadre. In 2010-11, there were 2 Muslim officers out of total strength of 350. In 2009-2010 also there were 2 Muslims out of 340 IAS officers’ posts. The number in the IPS is 4 out of 203 officers in 2011. The sanctioned cadre strength for police officers in Maharashtra state is 302.

The major reason for the socio economic deprivation of Muslims is the high incidence of communal riots. Absence of civic ties due to ghettoisation creates an insular feeling. Mumbai which has 15 to 18 % Muslim population, according to various estimates, is the worst hit. During 1908 to 2009; Mumbai alone was inflicted with 83 communal riots which claimed nearly 1,900 lives and resulted in injuries to over 8,000 people. No other city or region in Maharashtra has had more communal riots than Mumbai. It exceeds that of the communal incidents in Malegaon. A distant second in the 1908-2009 riots list is Aurangabad (12 incidents), followed by Pune, Nagpur and Malegaon (11 incidents each). Though Bhiwandi occupies fifth spot with 8 incidents, it ranks second in terms of deaths. During 1998-2008, 172 lives were lost in 1,192 incidents in the state due to highly polarized society that is sharply divided along caste and religious lines.

Syncretism Culture:

Culture of Maharashtra is marked by a high degree of syncretism and pluralism. Political economy of communal conflicts is proving to be a major threat to this glorious legacy. Maharashtra has had 1,192 communal clashes during the 11-year period from 1998 to 2008, the highest in the country. Throughout the 11-year period, Maharashtra witnessed 10% to 23% of the total incidence of communal riots in India. Its share was particularly high during 2005-06, when 20% of all such incidents took place in the state. In this context, massive development intervention among poor Muslims with special focus on inclusive growth is a need of an hour.


This inquiry into causes of socio economic deprivation of Muslims is a crucial exercise to arrive at remedial measures and doable agenda for inclusive development of Muslims thro the government initiative of Multi Sectoral Development Programme (MsDP). Main rationale for MsDP is to remove disparities faced by areas with sizable minority population. In Maharashtra, four districts Parbhani, Hingoli, Washim and Buldhana are identified by Central Government as Minority Concentrated Districts for Multi-sectoral Development Program during XI Plan (2007-12).

Bhivandi: Known as Manchester of India, this textile city is famous for handloom and power loom industry. As most of the workers are migrant and working too hard, citizens groups are not active in the city.

• The state has to be pro-active in ensuring social security and social protection to the informal sector workers. All of them must be provided with ration cards.
• Currently only 30% of the city has a drainage system. Remaining 70% of the city of Bhivandi must be provided drainage system so that most of the illnesses related to water born diseases can be controlled.
• Public health and sanitation measures against unhygienic living and working condition must be taken as early as possible. Eradication of contagious disease programme TB, skin ailments needs an immediate attention.
• Occupational health and safety standards for workers in powerloom and handloom industries need to be operationalised by Factory Inspector’s Office and Labour Bureau. Support structures and medical facilities must be provided for disabled people.
• Massive urban housing scheme for Muslims is urgently required in Bhivandi.
• Modernisation of slaughter house in Bhivandi as per the norms of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board is need of an hour, hence adequate financial assistance must be provide in the PRI and state government budget.
• To eradicate child labour in Bhivandi, the Child Labour Prevention Act, 1986 must be implemented.
• Create new posts of Community Development Officers at the Bhivandi Municipal Corporation.

Mumbai: Behrampada, Dharavi, Jogeshwari, Madanpura, Govandi, Mankurd, Kurla, Govandi, Mumbra

Mumbai has Muslim ghettoes spread around all three railway lines-central (Kurla, Byculla, Mazgaon), Western (Behrampada, Dharavi, Jogeshwari) and Harbour (Madanpura, Govandi, Mankurd). There is a need to establish a strong centre-link programme that would co-ordinate, policies, programmes and ground realities. This unit established either in the Department of Minorities Affairs or the Minorities State Commission. It
• must monitor the socio-economic and financial sector programmes within the access parameters of the minorities such as budget allocation for the minorities in proportion to the population and their levels of development,
• top priority in the budget must be given to housing, roadwork, drainage, water supply and electricity.
• call for a mid-term review of programmes and ensure that the allocations made for the minorities/ women and other vulnerable groups are not re-allocated, but will be spent for the purpose it is intended.
• facilitate the dissemination of information about the various state welfare programmes especially targeting the minorities, but of all programmes and initiatives aimed at addressing issues of socio-economic justice. The idea is to have a single window approach to programmes.
• Resolving Dispute over Land Ownership in Favor of the Community.
• The present condition of the slaughter houses in the city is very bad, and is a threat to the health and hygiene of persons living nearby, as well as persons working there, and people who consume the meat that comes from there. Hence modernisation is urgently required, at least to ensure that basic standards of hygiene are in place.

Malegaon: Malegaon has a potential to emerge as a modern industrial hub and urgently needs an Urban Renewal Plan.

• Major housing scheme, drainage and sanitation measures, tapped water, street lights, roads and public transport demand urgent attention for the poor Muslim workers in Malegaon.
• Small scale manufacturing units-power-loom, textile, oil, food and plastic industries and oil refinery should be provided regular and reliable electricity supply, credit and banking facilities, physical infrastructure in terms of road and transport for passengers and goods.
• Powerloom industry must be modernized and yarn bank must be established. Paithani sarees produced in Malegaon deserves more proactive marketing.
• Vocational Training Institutes must be established for generating skilled workforce as majority of population Malegaon is young in age.
• Malegaon film industry should get encouragement and state support in terms of investment, marketing, land for development of film city with studios, loans, consultancy services and awards the way Bollywood and Marathi Film industries are getting.
• The government should encourage formation of 5000-6000 SHGs of women in Malegaon.
• The state government must evolve a special package for the industrial development of Maegaon city.
• The government must make concerted efforts for intermixing of different religious communites thro’ creation of mixed neighbourhood as agsinst extreme segregation existing currently, sports, cultural activites, public parks, libraries, community centres, youth camps, health check ups by voluntary organizations for all citizens.

Overall Recommendations:

• Block wise disaggregated data- base on socio-economic indicators for Muslims in the state must be provided and regularly updated for proper targeting of development schemes and programmes.
• In 49 Muslim inhabited blocks in Maharashtra, basic civil amenities such as water, street lights in the urban areas, sanitation, road, hospital/health centre, ICDS centers, school, multi-purpose activity centers, community libraries and banking facilities must be ensured on a top priority basis.
• The government officers should be sensitized to issue BPL cards and judiciously implement anti poverty programmes and schemes for deserving muslims. Community Based Organisations and No-Government Organisations should be empowered to monitor procurement of BPL cards.
• Wide publicity should be given to Maulana Azad Employment Loan Scheme, Educational loan and Scholarships.
• Quarterly audit of budgetary allocation for social sector human development initiatives for Muslims must be done so that the funds can be utilized on time.
• Reservation policy to be made applicable to Dalit and OBC Muslims as per Justice Rangnath Mishra’s recommendation.
• The State must set an example by taking a lead in instituting an Empowered Equal Opportunities Commission as per the recommendations of Sachar Commission and Justice Ranganath Misha Commission.
• Urdu medium schools to be adequately and consistently funded to meet the expenditure of school building, teachers’ salaries and campus/play-ground maintenance.
• State initiative in construction of urban houses for the Muslims among whom 60% currently are living in the slums.
• Priority Sector advances by the public sector banks should be increased to 15% of the total lending in agriculture and small scale industry as compared to current lending of 6% and 7% respectively.
• To stop discrimination against Muslims in housing sector, stern action must be taken against housing societies and builders who discriminate against citizens on the basis of religion/caste in selling or renting out flats/houses.
• Women headed households should be given special considenration in all affirmative and anti poverty programmes of the state.
• Maulana Azad Minority Economic Development Mahamandal, Government of Maharashtra should give religion wise break up of beneficiaries of finaicial aid/loans under loan schems, subsidy, education loan, micro credit, mahila samriddhi, loans for farmers and fisherfolks and micro fiancé for SHGs and vocational training scheme.
To promote higher and vocational education among Muslims girls and women, colleges and vocational training institutions must be started in the areas inhabited by Muslims.


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