Although home to a Hindu majority, India has a Muslim population of some 230 million, making it the state with the second-largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia. While many Indian Muslims achieve celebrity status and high-profile positions abroad and in India’s government—India’s booming economy has left the nation’s largest minority group lagging behind. Muslims experience low literacy and high poverty rates, and Hindu-Muslim violence has claimed a disproportionate number of Muslim lives. Yet Muslims can impact elections, using their power as a voting bloc to gain concessions from the candidates who court them.
The Muslim literacy rate ranks well below the national average and Muslim poverty rates are only slightly higher than low-caste Hindus. Muslims—mostly Sunnis—make up 15.4 percent of India’s population, yet hold fewer than 5 percent of government posts and make up only 4 percent of the undergraduate student body in India’s elite universities. The report also found that Muslims fall behind other groups in terms of access to credit, despite the fact that Muslims are self-employed at a far higher rate than other groups.