Mewat region comprising Mewat district in Haryana and Bharatpur and Alwar district in neighbouring Rajasthan has more than 1.5 million Muslims. They are steeped in social, economic and educational backwardness. Known as Meo Muslims who share a common ancestry with Hindu Rajputs, they identify closely with them in several social and culture customs. History suggests that majority of them embraced Islam during the period of Tughlaq dynasty and Mughal emperor Aurangazeb.
The Institute for Human Development, Delhi recently did a socio-economic survey of the Mewat district of Haryana as a minority concentration district. The survey was sponsored by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India. It is titled as A Baseline Survey of Minority Concentration Districts—Mewat, Haryana. We are presenting a summary of the survey.
The newly created Mewat district in Haryana has a total population of 9.93 lakhs. 95.36% cent of its population is rural and just about 4.64 %is urban. The population of the minority community, which are Muslims, account for 70.9% of the total, with 74.3% of them being rural population. They are listed under the OBC category which means they are recognized as part of the backward class communities.
Family size and gender ratio: The Muslims constitute a majority in Mewat. Out of 900 households surveyed in 30 villages, 82.02 % are Muslims and 17.94 % are Hindus. On an average 5.65 members live in a Hindu family, while Muslim families are a bit larger with 6.75 members. The sex ratio of the Hindu population was reported to be 742 against 834 of Muslim population. The average sex ratio for the surveyed households is reported to be 819.
Literacy: The literacy rate recorded in Mewat district was 44.07% per cent. It consisted of
61.53 % of literate males as against 24.26 % literate females. In comparison to the state average literacy of 68.59 %, there was a gap of nearly 24 %. The male-female gap in literacy rates within the district was about 37 %. The sex ratio of Mewat was 894 females against 1,000 males against the state average of 861. It suggests better sex ratio in comparison to the state figure, but much worse in comparison to the national average of 927. Only 40 % of population constitutes the active workforce. Out of them 44.37% were engaged in cultivation.
Education: The district is also deficient in educational infrastructure. It has three colleges and only one polytechnic and seven Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) or Vocational Educational Institutions(VEI) which reveals the precarious situation of educational facilities. Primary schools exist in 78.14% of the villages, but there is a shortfall of Middle, High School and Senior Secondary Schools which is 9.30, 6.91 and 3.77 % respectively. Therefore girls’ formal education suffers from neglect. The girls belonging to Muslim communities prefer to go to Madarasas and not to high schools which are not located in the village. These are considered safe and secure. Children who have never enrolled in government schools are about one fifth of the total population of children i.e., 5-16 year age group. Those left after enrolment, are nearly one-tenth of the total. Among the Muslims, 8.65% of students are reported to be attending informal schools called madarasas. Only 1.61 % of Hindu students are found to be in informal schools.
Health: The district has poor health infrastructure. The Primary Health Centres (PHC) cover just 10 % of population, while the sub-centres, which lack trained medical professionals, cover 64.71% of population. Therefore, the response to institutional delivery is not encouraging. Due to the lack of qualified medical professionals, quacks have good business in villages. Out of 30 villages, 24 villages have no PHC, and no Community Health Centre (CHC). In 17 villages there is no primary health sub centre. Hospitals and dispensaries exist only in three villages. 27 villages i.e. 90 % of the villages do not have basic maternity and child welfare centres.
Water Closet Latrines : Availability of water closet latrines remains the most critical gap: nearly 91.31% of Hindus and 86.30 % of Muslims defecate in the open. Only about 14 % cent of Muslims and 8.69 % of Hindus have in-house toilet facilities. The poor sanitary conditions may well be gauged by the fact that 27.62 % of the Hindu settlements and 41.15 % of Muslim settlement areas are devoid of drainage facilities. The total sanitation campaign seems to have no visible impact in Mewat district, since the district seems to be way behind the target.
Literacy Rate, particularly Female Literacy Rate : As against the All-India average of 67.3%, the literacy rate of Mewat is only 53.2%. There is low literacy among Muslims (52.75%) as compared to their Hindu counterparts (56.14 %). The female literacy rate is very low in comparison to the male literacy figures. The literacy rate of females is only 33.98 %, while the male literacy rate is 69.47 %. The problem of access to schools is a major reason for low female literacy rates. Low literacy is also due to poor enrolment and high rate of drop outs, apart from non availability of schools.
Electricity : Although electricity is not a critical gap in Mewat district, it still needs attention as nearly half of the households of the district are not electrified yet. Nearly 58.16 % of Hindu and 54.23 % of Muslim households had their houses electrified. However, there was also heavy dependence on non-electrified sources.
Drinking Water Facilities : Nearly 90% of the households have access to drinking water, which is a bit more than the all-India figure of 87.9%. About 66 % of Hindus and 58.12% of Muslims relied on the use of public source, while 25.63% of Hindus and 31.30 % of Muslims had private arrangements for drinking water. Sources that are not regarded safe for drinking water, such as the public protected and unprotected wells, are also used for drinking purposes.
Housing with Pucca Walls : Almost all the households in the surveyed villages have their own houses. Nearly 78.73 %of the household live in pucca houses, while the all-India figure for the same is only 59.4 %. However, some 8.47% and 12.37 % live in thatched and kutchha houses respectively.
Other facilities: Out of 30 villages surveyed only 12 villages had post offices, while in other 18 villages people had to travel about 4.6 kms to avail postal facilities. Even public telephone booths were available in only nine villages and in rest, the villagers had to travel a distance of 6.3 km to avail this facility. Only 4 villages had Rural Banks and none of the villages had any commercial banks. Commercial banks were located at a distance of nearly eight kms. Anganwadi centres existed in all the 30 villages, the fair price i.e. the ration shop did not exist in three villages. In 11 villages there was no general shops and the villagers had to travel a distance of 11 km to reach a general merchant shop. Twenty six villages had no mandi shop, the villagers had to travel eight km to reach a mandi shop. Dairy was an important source of income but milk mandis existed only in eight villages and in 19 other villages, villagers had to travel a distance of 6.6 km to reach to a milk mandi. There was no veterinary hospital in 13 villages and villagers had to travel 8.7 km to reach to a veterinary hospital. Markets are also quite far off. In the absence of such facilities, this region fails to attract industries, which certainly has adverse impact on the livelihood of the people.
Detailed survey can be accessed at: http://www.icssr.org/Mewat%5B1%5D.pdf.