The latest National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) report, “Employment and Unemployment Situation among Major Religious Groups in India”, of June 2013, should prove to be a huge shocker to those who consider Gujarat as the most successful developmental model of Hindutva experiment. Even as looking into issues like labour force work participation rate across India, the report has sought to analyze inter-religious differentials among states to find out how labour force of each religious group is shaping up. And for this, it has offered religion-wise current attendance rates in educational institutions, i.e. the number of persons attending any educational institution per 1000 persons, alongside literacy levels. This has been done in order to provide an “idea of the quality of human capital for the future workforce”, to quote from the report.
The results of the study are astonishing. In the age-group 5-14, the attendance rate of Gujarat’s Hindus in educational institutions per 1,000 persons was found to be one of the lowest in India. At 814 per 1,000 population, or 81.4 per cent, for this age group of Gujarat Hindus, only two major states are found to have worst rate on this score – Bihar (76.6 per cent) and Jharkhand (75.7 per cent). Kerala (considered a nearly successful developmental model by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen) stands at the very top, with 96.9 per cent Hindu children attending an educational institution in this age group, followed closely by Himachal Pradesh (96.5 per cent), Maharashtra (95.0 per cent), and Andhra Pradesh (94.2 per cent). The all-India average is 87.7 per cent.
For the Hindus in the age-group 15-19, Gujarat’s performance was found to be even worse. In fact, the number of Hindus attending an educational institution in this age group plummets to 42.0 per cent, and the only state that shows a lower rate than Gujarat is Odisha (41.6 per cent, dropped from 91.6 per cent in the age-group 5-14). The top performer for this age group is, again, Kerala with 80.9 per cent of Hindus in the age-group 15-19 attending an educational institution, followed by Himachal Pradesh (74.3 per cent), Chhattisgarh (73.7 per cent) and Maharashtra (68.7 per cent). Even Bihar with 56.9 per cent and Jharkhand with 58.2 per cent are better performers than Gujarat. The all-India average for this category of children has been found to be 59.2 per cent.
Poor attendance in educational institutions is not just a worrying factor for Hindus but also for Muslims of Gujarat. The NSSO study finds that 76.7 per cent of Gujarat’s Muslim children in the age-group 5-14 attend any educational institution. Here, Bihar (74.6 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh (76.3 per cent) are found to have performed worst than Gujarat. The all-India average for this age-group of Muslims is 82.3 per cent. In the higher age-group, 15-19, the percentage of Gujarat’s Muslims attending any educational institution suddenly drops to 32.5 per cent, which is the worst in India. The all-India average for this age group has been found to be 45.3 per cent. The results also show that, compared to Hindus, lesser numbers of Muslim children attend any educational institution in Gujarat.
No doubt, literacy figures do suggest that Gujarat is a better performer than the all-India average, whether they are Hindus or Muslims. But, clearly, this cannot hide the fact that a higher number of the state’s children remain outside the formal educational framework. Gujarat’s 27.4 per cent of Hindus and 26.8 per cent Muslims come in the NSSO’s “not literate” category. This is against the all-India average of 31.7 per cent and 36.3 per cent for Hindus and Muslims, respectively, suggesting Gujarat is “above average”. Yet, the fact is, several states are better performers than Gujarat. For Hindus, these include Assam (14.2 per cent), Himachal Pradesh (20.6 per cent), Kerala (6.5 per cent), Maharashtra (21.0 per cent), Punjab (22.9 per cent), Tamil Nadu (23.7 per cent) and West Bengal (23.8 per cent). For Muslims, the states who are better performers than Gujarat are Chhattisgarh (21.9 per cent), Himachal Pradesh (10.8 per cent), Kerala (7.8 per cent), Maharashtra (18.1 per cent), and Tamil Nadu (15.4 per cent).
Overall, the NSSO report comments, “The current attendance rates in educational institutions in the age-group 0-29 years were the highest among Christian rural males, rural females, urban males and urban females alike.” Further, “The current attendance rates in educational institutions among rural males, rural females, urban males and urban females of age 0-29 years among Christians were 58 per cent, 52 per cent, 63 per cent and 56 per cent, respectively. The corresponding rates for Muslims were 46 per cent, 38 per cent, 48 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively. The over-all current attendance rates in educational institutions for rural males, rural females, urban males and urban females of age 0-29 years were 50 per cent, 42 per cent, 53 per cent and 49 per cent, respectively.”