Expected area(s) of Development within Thoubal district: An emphasis on Muslim Community

Mustaque Ahmed / Rafijuddin Shah *

Id-ul Adha celebration at Changamdhabi under Andro Kendra Majid  Manipur :: 7 November 2011
Id-ul Adha celebration at Changamdhabi under Andro Kendra Majid Manipur in November 2011 :: Pix - Bullu Raj

Having bounded by Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur, Chandel and Churachandpur districts in different directions, Thoubal district is blessed to be having an area of around 514 Sq. Km. which is not totally plain. In an average, the district is 790 meters above the mean sea level. Thoubal district is situated between 230 4' N and 2404'N lat and 930 45 E and 940 15'E longitude. This article is written by giving emphasis on Muslim community of the district. The living condition of this minority community needs improvement considering various Government of India (GOI) recommended area of development in the discussion.

The district has three sub-divisions- Lilong, Thoubal and Kakching. Also, there are nine small towns i.e. Lilong, Thoubal, Yairipok, Sikhong, Sekmai, Wangjing, Heirok, Kakching Khunou and Sugunu and a part of Samurou of Imphal West. Out of 364 lakhs population of the district, Muslims are 86,849 (Rural: 8,942 while Rural:28,207 )(Census India 2001).

Being minority, Muslims share 58% of population out of total 44% minority (Muslims: 58642 of the total minority:101420) in the district. Muslim's sex ratio is 986 females per 1000 males. Some area of concern in the district is recommended to be prioritized so that the government includes them in its future course of developmental work programmes.

The literacy rate of Muslim's population, according to baseline survey of minority concentrated districts, district report Thoubal, GOI (2004), is a centre of appeal.

Although, the rate of literacy is number five ranking in the priority list, let's reproduce the following to make a point of discussion.

Table1: Literacy rate by religious groups and place of residence (Census India 2001)

Religion Residence Literacy Rate Male Female
Hindus Rural 63.5 77.7 49.5
Hindus Urban 74.3 86.0 62.7
Muslims Rural 54.5 73.0 35.9
Muslims Urban 71.0 86.2 55.7
Christians Rural 74.8 85.5 63.5
Christians Urban 81.7 91.8 69.3

The report states "The data on literacy rate indicate high gender differentials among the Muslims and Hindus. The low literacy rate of Muslim and Hindu rural females indicates the phenomenon of gender discrimination in sending children to the schools. The gender discrepancy in terms of sex ratio and literacy is, however, more prominent in case of the Muslims in the district". This may be true. But, we have to look into the affairs of children going to Maktab(s) and Madrassa(s) too.

This may change the picture and statistics of education. There are incentives from the government side to the Maktab and Madrassa through the State Wakfa Board. The building infrastructure can also be developed through the assistance from the central funds. The education in Madrassa (big/high religious School) and Maktabs (Schools attached at a Mosque of around 50 to 60 houses) needs to be encouraged by implementing scientific educational curricula along with their study of Muslim Basic Theology (MBT).

There are chances that some children got opportunity to go to Maktab and Madrassa, however, they missed to go to private/ government schools for studying English, Science, Maths., etc. Counting their numbers is equally important at this stage of time. Availing of scholarships/incentives to the minority Muslim students will also be helpful to increase the rate of literacy in the district as it was suggested by the report. Education is major priority area of concern considering welfare of this community.

The district attains 90% GER (Gross enrolment ratio) at primary level of study, but, the NER (net enrolment ratio) is significantly lower. NER for girls is higher than the boys of the corresponding age group i.e. 6-11 (Class I to V). But the drop out for the girls at upper primary stage is high. Girl students drop out of the schools is reflected at this stage. The report further added "There is no gender disparity at this stage".

The report indicated that there were problems of untrained teachers at the primary and upper primary schools. It is one major weakness/hindrance in the primary education in the district, It added "that primary educational facilities for boys and girls are available within 23 of the sample villages. Number of schools for boys is more than girls and this may perhaps be responsible for lower NER among girls from the middle school upwards. The calculation of NER, GER of primary and upper primary stage of the Maktab and Madrassa will also help educational development of the district/state.

The report also highlighted about the Muslim women's less work participation in Cultivation, household industry, others, etc. than their male counterparts. This may be because of their lacking of skills and knowledge for doing work at small scale industries and other area of workforce where technical skills are required. But there is no doubt about the rural Muslim women engage in agricultural fields and hence their involvement in cultivation. This skill has been transferred from generation to generation.

Today, we see more and more Muslim women vendors in the markets. It means the number of women workers in the work force is on the rise. This is the third priority area of concern considering to substantially enhancing opportunities to engage the female workforce in income generating activities.

Another area of concern is safe drinking water. This is priority ranking number one of the district regarding want of development. Access to safe drinking water is considerably poor in the district. People of this district commonly use pond and river water. These days, people started buying water from private suppliers. The report has it "the level of achievement about drinking water is merely 24% vis a vis the national average of about 78%. This deficit deserves immediate attention.

Number two priority area is about the deficient of pucca houses in rural area. Human dwelling is one of the important parameter to measure the development. Most of the houses in the district are built by bamboos, woods, mud walls, etc. The foundation of the house is composed of mud and soil. Many a houses are done with straw roofing instead of GI sheet. There was suggestion to avail the housing schemes to the rural poor for making houses so that the gap of the district and the national average is minimized. The recommendation needs to be realized.

Other areas of concern are bad public distribution system (PDS), lack of doctors, unemployment bad communication facilities, etc. It is high time to do something to bring changes for the welfare of the Muslims as it was recommended by the Government of India report. Development of Muslims in the district will certainly change development of the state. This can be highlighted that the Sachar Committee report (2006) on "Social Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community of India" exhibited deficits and deprivations of Muslims in all dimensions of development.

* Mustaque Ahmed / Rafijuddin Shah wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
This article was posted on March 27, 2015.

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