42.7% of Muslims Illiterate, Reveals Census Data

Representative image. Credit: José Morcillo Valenciano/Flickr CC BY 2.0

Representative image. Credit: José Morcillo Valenciano/Flickr CC BY 2.0

Data newly released from the 2011 Census of India on educational level by religious community and gender has shown that 42.7% of Muslims in India are illiterate. This is the highest illiteracy rate for any single religious community in the country, while the illiteracy rate for the entire population taken together is 36.9%.

Muslims are the only community to have an illiteracy rate higher than the national rate among all communities. For Hindus, the figure stands at 36.3%, the second highest proportion of illiterate people.

This data set takes into account the population above seven years of age.

Literacy rates are highest among Jains, at 84.7%, followed by Christians (74.3%), Buddhists (71.8%) and Sikhs (67.5%).

Unsurprisingly, literate proportions of the population differ for men and women in each of the communities. As seen in the chart below, the distance between men and women is highest amongst Hindus and Buddhists, for Hindus the distance is slightly higher then for the total population numbers.

The rural-urban divide is higher among the population in general and Hindus then for Muslims. Even in urban areas, 34.4% of the Muslim population is illiterate, as opposed to 25.5% of the overall population.

The data also reveals the extent to which different communities study, also disaggregated by gender. For all religious communities taken together, only 5.63% have a graduate degree or more.

Source: Census of India 2011

Source: Census of India 2011

Of the people who have studied up to graduation and above, 61.6% are men and 38.4% women.

  • Rohini

    I find this lumping of all Muslims together troubling. I am certain that when Muslims are broken into specific denominations, a clearer picture will emerge. For e.g., Shia vs. Sunni, Bori, Ahmediya etc. Many Muslim communities are well educated. Break down by caste will show it even better. The regional split should also be shown. In this manner, the degrees of literacy in various geographic, caste and community pockets of Muslims can be understood. Studying such break downs can allow root cause analysis, which then leads to actionable policies and budget allocations in education
    The way this data is presented, it is practically useless in understanding root cause, WHERE and on which specific groups the corrective action needs to be focused.
    The ONLY thing this data seems to be useful for is divisive politics and god forbid, demands for Muslim reservations.
    I wish the wire would truly think through such data before presenting it to the thinking reader.

  • Bhaskar

    Instead of highlighting ‘Muslim’ illiteracy, the thrust should have been on the curse of illiteracy itself, after 70 years of self-rule. The fact that in today’s day and age, 37% (according to this article) of our population of 1.3 billion, i.e. approx 380 million people cannot read and write, is astonishing (I was under the impression that India’s literacy rate was 72%). Further, the children of illiterate people tend to also be illiterate too and this is a generational thing. Then, this is also used to justify why (representative democracy) we can have illiterate politicians who can create havoc in civil society, as they do not know what civil society means. The article also reflects our society where female illiteracy is higher than male illiteracy, though the economic and family benefits of women’s empowerment is well known. We are only slightly better off than our neighbors except Sri Lanka which has a literacy rate of 92.6%. Literacy levels: India 63% (according to this article), Bangladesh 57.7%, Nepal 57.4%, Pakistan 54.9% and Bhutan 52.8%. Compare this to the global literacy rate for all people aged 15 and above at 86.3%. The global literacy rate for all males is 90.0% and the rate for all females is 82.7%.