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'Sikhs India's biggest spenders, Muslims the smallest'

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By Anil Sasi

New Delhi: Sikh households are the country's biggest spenders on average, and Muslim households on average the smallest, shows government data compiled for the period July 2009 to June 2010.

Sikh households spent on average about 1.7 times the expenditure by Muslim households, according to the list of major religious groups arranged by average monthly per capita household consumer expenditure (MPCE).

Household expenditure serves as a proxy for income, and is usually taken to reflect standards of living.

According to data from the National Sample Survey Office's (NSSO's) eighth quinquennial survey on employment and Sikhs India's biggest spenders, Muslims the smallest unemployment during the 12 months to June 2010, at the all-India level, the average MPCE of Sikh households was Rs 1,659, while that of Muslim households was only Rs 980.

Spending by Christian households was marginally lower than by Sikh households. Spending by Hindu households was about 27 per cent less than that by Christian households.

The 'Others' category, which includes Jain and Zoroastrian households, was third from the top, recording spending that was marginally lower than that by Christian households but sharply higher than Hindu and Muslim households.

The survey, conducted in the 66th round of the national sample survey, was spread over 7,402 villages and 5,252 urban blocks covering 1,00,957 households and 4.59 lakh persons. Consumption expenditure data was collected in a separate abbreviated worksheet which was integrated with the employment and unemployment schedule.

The data shows that Muslims continue to be the most backward community in economic terms in India.

According to the data, in rural areas, the overall proportion of Hindu households remained largely steady, whereas the proportion of Muslim households rose by about 1 percentage point during the period 1999-2000 to 2009-2010.

In urban areas, however, the proportion of Hindu households increased about 1 percentage point over the same period, while the proportion of Muslim households showed a decline of about 1 percentage point.

Considering both rural and urban areas, the proportion of households following Christianity and Sikhism remained at almost the same levels through this 10-year period.

Among households belonging to the "land-possessed" class, about 43 per cent of Christian households, 38 per cent of Muslim households and 37 per cent of Hindu households cultivated more than or equal to 0.001 hectare, but less than 1 hectare, of land.

The proportion of households cultivating more than 4 hectares was the highest for Sikhs (6 per cent), followed by Hindus (3 per cent).

Literacy rate among people aged 15 years or more was the highest for Christians, for both sexes, in rural and urban areas. The proportion of 15-year-olds and older with educational level "second and above" was again the highest for Christians, followed by Sikhs.

In terms of labour force participation rate (LFPR) — the population that supplies or seeks to supply labour for production of goods and services, and therefore includes both the 'employed' and the 'unemployed' in terms of per 1,000 persons — during the period 2009-10, LFPR for rural males, rural females and urban females were the highest for Christians, while that for urban males was the highest for Sikhs.

Significantly, between 2004-05 and 2009-10, LFPRs for rural males among Hindus and Christians remained at almost the same level, but that for Muslims increased by about 2 percentage points, and that for Sikhs decreased by about 2 percentage points.

(Courtesy: The Indian Express)
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