Gallup finds Indian Muslims ‘Suffering’
Written by: Farwin Fousdeen.. Disadvantaged, discriminated, marginalized are some of the words (and realities) that immediately springs to mind in relation to India’s gigantic (approximately 140 million) Muslim population. But, a study released on Tuesday, by Abu Dhabi Gallup research centre reveals that India’s Muslim minority is “suffering”. “One-third (32%) of the country’s Muslims are suffering. Muslim Indians are more likely than the country’s Hindus and members of all other religions—including those who don’t belong to a religious group—to be “suffering,” the report states unequivocally.
Titled “Muslims in India: Confident in Democracy Despite Economic and Educational Challenges,” the research spans the 2010/2011 period and considers Muslim Indians’ views on life evaluation, standard of living, democracy, and education. The study is based on nationally representative studies of 9,518 Indians including 1,197 Muslims.
The Gallup research study categorizes respondents in three ranks—“thriving,” “struggling,” or “suffering” “according to how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10 based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. People who rate their current life situation and their life in five years a “4” or less are considered suffering” the Report explains.
Developed by Dr. Hadley Cantril in 1965, the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale has been used by the Gallup Centre in numerous endeavors, including Gallup's World Poll of more than 150 countries, representing more than 98% of the world's population, and Gallup's in-depth daily poll of America's wellbeing (Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index; Harter & Gurley, 2008). ‘Thriving’ denotes respondents who have positive views of their present life situation (7+) and have positive views of the next five years (8+), ‘Struggling’ refers to respondents who have moderate views of their present life situation or moderate/negative views of their future, and ‘Suffering’ indicates ‘wellbeing that is at high risk’ and includes respondents who have “poor ratings of their current life situation (4 and below) and negative views of the next five years (4 and below). They are more likely to report lacking the basics of food and shelter, more likely to have physical pain, a lot of stress, worry, sadness, and anger. They have less access to health insurance and care, and more than double the disease burden, in comparison to "thriving" respondents”.
By and large the report echoes much of the findings reveled in the 2006 Sachar Committee report (“Social, Economic and Educational Status of Muslim Community of India”) produced for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, reports from National Council of Applied Economic Research in India and the 2010 District Information System for Education (DISE) report. The distinguishing feature of the Gallup report is the psychological aspect of well-being as rated by the respondents themselves unlike the report’s predecessors, all of which relied on quantitative data.
Findings of the Gallup study reveals that the “country’s Muslims (51%) are less likely than Hindus (63%) or others (66%) to be satisfied with their standard of living. Similarly, Muslims (65%) are more likely than Hindus (53%) and others (51%) to say their standard of living is staying the same or getting worse. Muslim Indians are more likely than the other religious groups to be suffering—that is to be highly negative about their current life situation and their expectations for their life situation in five years. Majorities of Muslims (62%), Hindus (66%), and other Indians (70%) are struggling, giving more middle-of-the-road answers when asked to rate their current life and their life as they anticipate it will be in five years. Those Indians classified at the high end of the life evaluation scale as “thriving” make the smallest group, including 6% of Muslims, 11% of Hindus, and 15% of all others.”
According to the Gallup survey, both religious groups are equally satisfied (74% in both communities) with the educational system or schools in their areas and ascribed this finding to the “nationwide improvements” India implemented to “elementary schools, as outlined in a 2010 District Information System for Education (DISE) report, in the years since the Sachar report. The DISE report details an increase in the number of elementary schools throughout the country, improvements made to school facilities (basic improvements such as drinking water, toilets, and cooking facilities), the decreased number of students per classroom, and more computers to schools.”
“While there are socioeconomic differences that set Muslims apart from Hindus and other religious groups in India, the various factions agree on many topics” the report notes, alluding to the many surprising commonalities found between the two communities often known for inter-religious tensions. “Muslims, for example, are as likely as Hindus to say they are satisfied with the freedom they have to do what they want in their lives. They share with Hindus and other Indians a belief in the idea that people in the country can get ahead in life if they work hard. The value Muslims place on opportunity is no less than that of Hindus or other Indians.”
“Similarities also exist when considering Muslims’ opinions about many topics relevant to India’s national institutions and identity. India has a carefully built pluralist democracy where no one identity or principle is dominant, and Muslims are as exuberant about the tenets of democracy as Hindus or other Indians. Specifically, Muslim Indians are as likely as Hindus to agree with the principles of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly” the report documents adding that “all Indians are equally as likely to say they approve of the job performance of the country’s leadership (42% of Muslims, 47% of Hindus, and 39% of all others). Muslims (79%) and Hindus (80%) are equally as likely to perceive corruption in government as being widespread.”
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