For Gujarat Muslims, the Growth Story is not Always True (December 13, 2012)


All the orchestrated brouhaha over loudly proclaimed Development Saga of Gujarat often fails to have the desired effect on Muslims who, over the last one decade of Narendra Modi’s rule, have undergone relentless persecution and discrimination. Despite tall claims of the government regarding employment, the work participation of Muslims has been lagging.

Work participation is a common measure of employment. In Gujarat, it is 10 percent lower for Muslims at 61 percent compared to Hindus, who have 71 percent. Gujarat has a higher unemployment rate for Muslims compared to even West Bengal. Muslims, being traditionally artisans and skilled workers, have a relative advantage in tool handling and mechanical work. This advantage has led to their employment in substantial numbers as industrial labour and in organised industry.

In most states, Muslims form a higher percentage of the workforce in manufacturing and organised sector (compared to their share in population) in comparison to Hindus. However, this is not the case in Gujarat. In the past, Muslims had a high representation in Gujarat’s textile industry, powerlooms and handlooms; diamond cutting and polishing; chemical, pharmaceutical and processing industries. However, today they find it difficult to have a footing in manufacturing and organised sector.

The result: while the Muslim share in the manufacturing and organised sector at all India level is 21 percent, in Gujarat it is barely 13 percent, while in Maharashtra it is 25 percent and West Bengal 21 percent.

Muslims generally have a better employment in the state-level public sector enterprises across India, but in Gujarat it is severely limited. The same holds true even after counter checking a second set of data.

Often the Sachar Committee Report is referred to by government’s publicists to point out that Muslims have a substantial representation in government employment as compared with other states like West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. This fact has to be seen in the proper background: it has emerged over the last five decades, rather than over the eleven years of Modi rule.

Insufficient employment opportunities have forced many Muslims into self-employment and petty trade. Compared to other states, the ratio of self-employed Muslims is very high in Gujarat. Fifty four percent of Muslims in Gujarat are self-employed, while only 39 percent of Hindus come in this category. In West Bengal, the ratio is better: 53 percent of Muslims and 43 percent of Hindus.

A particularly grueling fact about it is that compared to other sectors, self-employment and petty trade have registered only marginal growth as much of public investment and FDI in Gujarat has come into the organised sector where Muslims have inadequate access.

This has deprived Muslims of the fruits of Gujarat’s economic development.


Gujarat government’s alleged efforts to create employment is part of the massive disinformation campaign. The government, with its special penchant for theatrics and spectacle, has been organising Rozgar Melas across the state. Tall claims have been made of giving a lot of jobs to the young.

One problem with all this is that it is very difficult to verify these claims as government agencies are not forthcoming in providing consistent details or useful data about such melas.

Activists and researchers in Gujarat have found it hard to obtain reliable information. According to journalists Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah, during the Swami Vivekanand Youth Employment Week in February-March this year, the people thus employed were given not the usual appointment letter, but “employment letter.” This does not seem to be a case of oversight.

The two journalists tried to obtain information under RTI, but often it was scattered and difficult to come by. Still, whatever information was obtained tells a different story. (For a complete report on the Swami Vivekanand Youth Employment Week, please visit:……..

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