Md Jubair: The India Discrimination Report 2022 by Oxfam India is a damning indictment of the ruling elite in the country that has been oppressing ‘lower-caste’ Hindus such as Adivasis and Dalits and religious minorities including Muslims. According to the Oxfam report, women in India have also remained on the receiving end of discrimination and oppression. All these groups face an uneven treatment that deprives them of agricultural credits in rural areas and job opportunities in urban centres. Their livelihood opportunities are extremely limited resulting in much higher unemployment rates compared to other segments of Indian society. The report highlights the fact that in rural areas the sharpest increase of 17 per cent in unemployment was for Muslims in comparison with non-Muslims during the first quarter of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nearly one-thirds of the Muslim population in rural India is unemployed. Nearly one-fourth of the adult non-Muslim population was with regular salaried jobs in 2019-20 whereas this ratio for Muslims was just slightly over 15 per cent.
In the 15 years from 2005 to 2020, the discrimination that Muslims faced in India increased by nearly 10 per cent. The situation is no better for even those who are on regular salaried jobs in urban areas; non-Muslims in the similar category earn 1.5 times higher than Muslims. Those who are self-employed also fare no better as the Muslims in this category earn nearly a third more than their non-Muslim counterparts. Muslims are not the only ones facing discrimination like this. Women across India — even if they have a similar educational level with their male counterparts – end up facing discrimination in the labour market due to employers’ prejudices and due to society’s overall primitive mores. The lower wages for salaried women are two-thirds due to discrimination and one-third because of a lack of education or work experience.
This presents a dismal picture of Indian society as a whole that reeks of discrimination and prejudice. This is the result of a prolonged neglect of minorities and marginalized sections of society. Successive governments in India have failed to take effective measures to protect the rights of the marginalized. The ruling BJP in India is an openly patriarchal and racist party that believes in the supremacy of Hindutva – a belief that considers non-Hindus as inferior beings. India is a country teeming with over 1.4 billion people. Nearly half of them are marginalized on one pretext or another. This situation is alarming not only for India but for the region as well. The people of India have suffered a lot at the hands of the BJP and its supremacist actions and policies. One wonders when the world wakes up to this reality.