Non-Muslim minorities high on socio-economic ladder

While the Sachar Commission Report highlighted the poor socio economic condition of Indian Muslims, a survey by the National Minority Commission has some encouraging signals for the other four notified minority communities in the country.

The report titled 'Socio-economic Status of Notified Minority Communities (Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis) except Muslims', says that the minority communities—apart from the Muslims—have a literacy rate higher than the average literacy rate of the country and that the proportion of undernourished children among these communities is way behind the national average.

As per the report, being fine-tuned at the NCM and to be released soon, the Parsis have the highest literacy rate among the notified minorities—97.9 per cent followed by Christians 80.3 per cent, Buddhists with 72.7 per cent and Sikhs with 69.4 per cent. This is against the country's average literacy rate of 64.8 per cent.

The literacy rate among women in these communities is also higher than the national average of 54.6 per cent. Christian women have the highest literacy rate at 76.2% and Buddhist women have the lowest at 61.7 per cent. Among the four minority communities, the male-female literacy gap is highest among the Buddhists and the lowest among the Parsis. The Sachar Commission had put the literacy rate of Muslims at 59.1 per cent.

These minority communities also have a better health and nutrition record than the national average of 47 per cent. Buddhists have the highest proportion of undernourished children at 39.2 per cent and Sikhs have the lowest at 22.8 per cent. This is against the all-India average for malnourished children—47 per cent.

According to the report, the fertility rate has fallen too. "The fertility rate of all minority communities, except the Buddhists whose rate of growth is already very low, experienced a fall. The rate of fall in fertility rate is highest among the Sikhs," the report states.

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