An overwhelming majority of rural, landowning households in the country are Hindus — with their number growing between 2004-05 and 2011-12 — while Muslims constitute only a small minority, a new government-endorsed study has found.
According to the ‘India Rural Development Report 2013-14’ by IDFC, whose foreward has been written by Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh, nearly 85 per cent of rural, landowning households in 2011-12 were Hindus, and this percentage increased from 2004-05, while Muslim households constituted just over 11 per cent with the figure having declined in the same period.
In 2006, the Rural Development Ministry under then minister Jairam Ramesh had inked an agreement for the publication of an annual India Rural Development Report by the IDFC Rural Development Network. This is the second edition of the report.
In 2011-12, while Hindus accounted for 84.2 per cent of rural landowners, Muslims and other minorities constituted 11.2 per cent and 4.6 per cent respectively.
The figure rose for Hindus in the period between 2004-05 and 2011-12, with a corresponding decline in the share of the other religious communities. In 2004-05, 81.8 per cent rural landowners were Hindu households. While Muslims and other minorities accounted for 12.7 and 5.4 per cent, respectively.
Among social groups, data showed that over 40 per cent of rural, landowning households belonged to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), with the percentage having increased between 2004-05 and 2011-12. In 2004-05, 41.2 per cent of rural landowners were OBCs, 30.7 per cent were ‘others’, 19.7 per cent were SCs and 8.4 per cent were from the Scheduled Tribes. The share of both SCs, STs grew in 2011-12, but at a pace slower than than that of the OBCs. In 2011-12, OBCs held 44.2 per cent land in rural areas, and the figure for ‘Others’, SCs and STs was 23.7 per cent, 20.9 per cent and 11.2 per cent respectively.
In terms of employment status in the farm sector in rural India (above 15 years of age), 61.5 per cent of Muslims were self-employed in 2011-12, as against 65 per cent of Hindus and 72.1 per cent of other minorities. The corresponding figures in 2004-05 were 62.7 per cent, 63.8 per cent and 68.5 per cent, respectively.
The gender break-up for self employed rural people in the farm sector, however, showed a slightly different picture. In 2011-12, 65 per cent of Muslim women were self-employed, as against 63.6 per cent of Hindu women and 74.7 of those from other minorities. Among men, 60.3 per cent of Muslims belonged to this category, as against 65.8 per cent Hindus and 70.5 per cent from other minorities.
In the non-farm sector, 50.8 per cent Muslims were self-employed in 2011-12 — 71.1 per cent women as against 45.8 per cent men. However, among Hindus, 37.6 per cent were self-employed, with a less stark gender variation at 37 per cent for men and 39.6 per cent for women. The high numbers for Muslim women in this category was attributed partly to their “restricted mobility” by this report. It also showed that rural poverty remained “high” among STs and SCs.