ET Survey exposes the myth of Muslim poverty

published on April 5, 2007

Muslims spend more than Hindu peers



TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ THURSDAY, APRIL 05, 2007 01:00:30 AM],curpg-2.cms

NEW DELHI: Forget all half-baked opinions you may have heard on the economic state of religious communities in India. Truth be told, at the national level, Hindus and Muslims are closer than you thought as far as average household income, expenditure, savings and even ownership of select consumer goods go.

In fact, in rural India, the gap between the two communities’ narrows appreciably and even reverses in some cases in favour of Muslims. Not surprisingly, the Sikhs are the most prosperous lot in India, with highest household income, expenditure and ownership of cars, two-wheelers, TV sets and refrigerators. Christians and other smaller communities don’t lag too far behind either.

In the first ever exercise mapping the economic contours of different religious communities in India, ET presents an exclusive peek into the National Council of Applied Economic Research’s (NCAER) data analysis from its National Survey of Household Income and Expenditure (2004-05), which was led by senior fellow Rajesh Shukla. Average annual household income (Rs At 2004-05 prices)













The survey collected primary data from a sample of approximately 63,000 households out of preliminary listed sample of 4,40,000 households spread over 1,976 villages (250 districts) and 2,255 urban wards (342 towns) covering 64 National Sample Survey (NSS) regions in 24 states/UTs.

If you thought Muslims alone were steeped in poverty, read on. Hindus and Muslims, at a national level, run neck-and-neck on average annual household income (AHI) of Rs 61, 423 and Rs 58,420, respectively.

Or, to put it differently, an average Hindu household has an income of Rs 168 per day, while an average Muslim household earns Rs 160 a day. In rural India, an average Hindu AHI is Rs 49,077 with Muslim close behind with AHI of Rs 47,805. On income parameters, at least, Hindus and Muslims are, indeed, bhai-bhai.

Marketers planning an ethnographic pitch to grab mindshare or policy makers preparing ground for affirmative action may do good to remember that an average Muslim household, at the national level, spends more than a Hindu one, with annual household routine expenditure (AHRE) at Rs 40,327 compared to Rs 40,009 for the latter.

Sikh household AHRE is highest at Rs 60,475 with Christians at Rs 45,291. In rural India, Muslim AHRE (Rs 33,711) is higher than Hindu (Rs 32,555) and compares well with Christian (Rs 38,068).

Interestingly, Muslims who are the bottom as far as income is concerned—top the list when AHRE is measured as a percentage of AHI. They spend over 69% of their income on routine household expenditure followed by Sikhs (66%) and Hindus (64%).

While the average national AHI for all religious groups at 2004-05 prices, stood at Rs 62,066, the patterns across specific groups reflect stark differential. The smaller religious communities (excluding Christians and Sikhs) taken as the whole are an affluent lot with AHI of over Rs 1 lakh. Sikhs and Christians leave larger communities way behind with AHI of Rs 91,153 and Rs 70,644 respectively.

And this has a clear impact on their expenditure and ownership patterns for a select consumer goods. Ownership patterns may tell their own story if the industry chooses to dig further. Penetration of cars is highest among Sikhs (17.3% households), followed by Christians (10.95%).

At the national level, Hindu and Muslim households virtually mirror each other on ownership of a host of products—cars (5.1% and 4.3%), two-wheeler (35.3% and 31.3%), refrigerator (17.9% and 15.9%) and radio (49.5% and 51.3%). Turn to rural India and Muslim households have an edge on not just AHRE, but even car ownership (2.6% versus 2.4% of Hindu households).

The only oddity in ownership between Hindus and Muslims is on television, with national penetration at 62.8 % and 54%, respectively. Even rural Muslim household lag here with penetration of just 39.1% compared to 52% for the majority community

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