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80% of Muslims in West Bengal are border line poor: Survey

A survey on the status of Muslims in West Bengal reveals that nearly eight in 10 Muslim households have a monthly family income of Rs 5,000 or less, which is just above the cut-off level of income for poverty line for a family of five.

According to the report released by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Sunday, Muslim who constitutes 27.01 per cent of West Bengal’s population forms a very large proportion of the poor” in the State.

Shockingly only 38.3 per cent households from the minority community in rural parts of the state earn Rs 15,000 or less per month.

The report titled “Living reality of Muslims in West Bengal”, has been drawn up by non-profit organizations SNAP, Guidance Guild, and Sen’s own Pratichi Institute.

There are two Muslim-majority districts in the state: Murshidabad (66.3 per cent Muslim population), and Malda (51.3 per cent); and 65 of the 341 blocks in rural Bengal are Muslim-majority.

While releasing the report with long chapters dedicated to education, health, economic conditions and gender of Muslims of Bengal who constitute a majority in 65 of 341 blocks in the State, Professor Amartya Sen said that “The fact that Muslims in West Bengal are disproportionately poorer and more deprived of basic amenities such as tap water, drainage, equal opportunities in employment and even LPG cylinders.

Only 12.2 per cent minority community households have access to drainage system, against 31.6 per cent overall. The use of traditional fuel for cooking is much higher among Muslims (85.9 per cent) compared to the average population of the state (68.6 per cent).

Significantly, 13.2 per cent Muslim adults in the state do not hold voter identity cards, the report has found.

In rural Bengal, nearly 47 per cent of all Muslims who work are either agricultural workers or ‘daily workers’ in non-agriculture sectors — “they are at the bottom of the economic ladder,” says the study. A measly 1.55 per cent of the state’s Muslims are school teachers, and 1.54 per cent work in the public sector.