In Kerala, it’s Hindus who need help

published on April 18, 2007

Ananthakrishnan G

Source URL:http://epaper. timesofindia. com/Repository/ ml.asp?Ref= VE9JTS8yMDA2LzEy LzEyI0FyMDE1MDA= &Mode=HTML& Locale=english- skin-custom

Though Hindus comprise 54.5% of Kerala’s 3.2 cr population, they are at the economic downside, a report by Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad says

Hindus constitute the major chunk of the state’s poor with an astounding 39.3 lakh living below poverty line

While a privileged Hindu family owns only an average of 0.69 acre, a Muslim family owns 0.77 acre and a Christian family 1.26 acre

New Delhi: As the committee under retired judge Rajender Sachar was busy culling out figures of Muslim deprivation, a more generic exercise was being carried out in Kerala by an influential socio-scientific organisation, and with dramatically different results.

Results of the survey titled ‘Kerala: How It Lives, How It Thinks’ are enough to shatter
traditional postulations and show that it isn’t minority Muslims or Christians, but Hindus comprising 54.47% of the state’s estimated 3.2 crore population who are at the economic downside. But hold on. The study is not the handiwork of any radical rightwing group, but the Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad whose Marxist antecedents are well known.

Hindus, according to numbers compiled by it, constitute the major chunk of the state’s poor with an astounding 39.3 lakh living below the poverty line.Muslims follow with 24.7 lakh and Christians, 8.2 lakh. Though Muslims lead the poverty index on a religion-wise breakup, the difference with Hindus is a marginal 5.9%.

The majority community also trails in land holdings. While a privileged Hindu family owns only an average of 0.69 acres, a Muslim family owns 0.77 acre and a Christian family, 1.264 acre. The report published in September this year says only 80.1% of Hindu houses are in a livable condition, less than that of Muslims (89.7%) and Christians (83.6%). Also only 90.4% Hindu homes have a toilet as against 93.8% Muslim and 94% Christian homes.

In 18.75% Hindu dwellings, the water is not safe compared to only 11.55% Muslim homes and 15% Christian. The minority communities are also ahead in electrification of houses and access to pipe water.Also, 14.5% Hindu houses are in danger of water logging, suggesting that they are not located uptown.Corresponding figures for Muslims and Christians are 12.8% and 10.9% respectively.

One reason for the better showing by Muslims could be the large Gulf remittance, says parishad vice president K P Aravindan, who edited the report. As the results show, 34.5% Muslim families have Gulf income as against 11.61% Christian and 10.4% Hindu.

The Christian community, however, leaves others far behind on most economic indicators. Even in matter of dowry, Christians lead the tally with 80% families following it. Muslims tag along at 76%. Though less,Hindus too are still to rid themselves of the social evil with 52% still under its grip.

Christians also top the per capita income chart at Rs 21,897 followed by Hindus Rs 17,762 and Muslims Rs 17,538. Statistics on unemployment also throw up some interesting combinations. The rate is highest among Muslims at 17% followed by Christians at 14.6% and Hindus at 14.3%. Kerala social welfare minister P K Sreemati Teacher told TOI that she was still to see the report. But the BJP reacted predictably with the party’s state vice-president V Muraleedharan demanding the setting up of a committee to study the condition of Hindus in the state. PAINFUL JOURNEY


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