ABSTRACT

The ‘plight of Indian Muslims’ periodically surfaces in national news headlines, sparking debates about the causes of Muslims’ apparent ‘backwardness’ and alienation from the Indian ‘mainstream’. In November 2006, the media again focused on the issue of Muslim deprivation after the ndings of the Sachar Committee Report were made public. is report demonstrated that Muslims as a whole lagged far behind other religious groups in terms of a variety of development indicators, including education, employment and representation in government.1 e report compared Muslims against Hindus in general, as well as against the two major deprived categories — Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (SCs/STs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs)2 — both of which have reservations in government jobs and places in educational institutions.3 Writing in the newspaper Hindustan Times, Zoya Hasan argued that the report made public the unequal position of Muslims:

e ndings of the report demonstrate that when it comes to education and employment, the average Muslim is at the bottom of the heap and trailing behind Scheduled Castes and OBCs . . . It is obvious that Muslims face discrimination, systematic exclusion and under-representation in public institutions (2006: 12).