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Non-SCs, STs earn more than SCs, STs, Muslims: Oxfam releases ‘India Discrimination Report 2022’

New Delhi: People not belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Schedules Tribes (STs) earn Rs 5,000 per month more than those from the two communities, while non-Muslims earn Rs 7,000 per month more than Muslims on average, according to a new report by Oxfam India.

According to the ‘India Discrimination Report 2022’, which highlights bias in accessing jobs, livelihoods and agricultural credits among others, 15.6 per cent of the urban Muslim population aged 15 and above were engaged in regular salaried jobs whereas 23.3 per cent of non-Muslims were in regular salaried jobs, in 2019-20.

“The lower employment for urban Muslims attributes 68 per cent to discrimination. In 2019-20, 70 per cent of the difference between Muslim and non-Muslim engaged as salaried workers was due to discrimination,” it said.

The report said self-employed SC/STs earn Rs 5,000 less than non-SC/STs and discrimination accounts for 41 per cent of this gap.

The rural SC and ST communities are facing a rapid increase in discrimination in casual employment, the report showed.

The data said unequal income among rural SC and ST casual wage workers was majorly — 79 per cent — because of discrimination in 2019-20, a sharp increase of 10 per cent from the previous year.

In rural areas, Muslims saw the sharpest increase in unemployment — 17 per cent — in the first quarter of COVID-19.

“For salaried workers during Covid, Muslims emerge as the most affected group for which the percentage figures went up from 11.8 to 40.9 in rural areas, the corresponding increase for SC/ST (5.6 to 28.3) and general category (5.4 to 28.1) being less than that,” it said.

Muslims, in rural areas, recorded the maximum decline in earnings of 13 per cent, while it was close to 9 per cent for others, the report said.

In rural areas, in the self-employed category, Muslims had the highest fall in earnings by about 18 per cent against that of below 10 per cent for the SC/STs and others, it said.

In 2017, people belonging to the bottom 20 per cent income group, who were from SC and ST communities got 1.7 times lesser hospital care compared to OBCs and others in the same income group.

Historically, oppressed communities such as Dalits and Adivasis along with religious minorities such as Muslims also continue to face discrimination in accessing jobs, livelihoods, and agricultural credits, the report said.

The mean income for SCs and STs in urban areas, who are regular employees, is Rs 15,312 as against Rs 20,346 for those belonging to the general category.

“This means the general category is earning 33 per cent more than SCs or STs according to the report. The average earning of self-employed workers is Rs 15,878 for non-SCs or STs and Rs 10,533 for SCs or STs. The rural SC and ST communities are facing an increase in discrimination in casual employment,” the report said.

“Self-employed non-SC/ST workers earn a third more than their SCs or STs counterparts. Caste also acts as a major barrier while accessing credit for agriculture despite many agricultural labourers being from SC or ST communities. STs and SCs receive less than a quarter of the credit shares that the forward castes receive,” the report said.

Muslims continue to face multidimensional challenges in accessing salaried jobs and income through self-employment as compared to non-Muslims.

The lower employment for urban Muslims was largely — 68.3 per cent — due to discrimination, in 2019-20. The report showed that discrimination faced by Muslims in 2004-05 was 59.3 percent, indicating an increase in discrimination by nine per cent over 16 years.

Regular-salaried non-Muslims in urban areas earn Rs 20,346 on average, which is 1.5 times higher than Muslims who earn Rs 13,672, the report said.

“This means non-Muslims are earning 49 per cent more than Muslims in regular employment,” the report noted.

“Self-employed non-Muslims earn Rs 15,878 on average, while self-employed Muslims earn Rs 11,421 despite the community’s overrepresentation in urban self-employment. This means non-Muslims are earning a third more than Muslims in self-employment,” it said.

Amitabh Behar, CEO of Oxfam India, said the fallout of discrimination in society is multi-faceted, not just social and moral but also economic, leading to adverse consequences.

Gender discrimination reason behind employment gap between men and women

Gender discrimination is the reason for 98 per cent of the employment gap between males and females in India, the Oxfam India report said.

The report highlighted that women in India despite their same educational qualifications and work experience as men will be discriminated against in the labour market due to societal and employers’ prejudices.

Oxfam India’s ‘India Discrimination Report 2022’ shows that discrimination causes 100 per cent of employment inequality faced by women in rural areas in labour market and 98 per cent in urban areas.

The report said self-employed males earn 2.5 times more than females, 83 per cent of which is attributed to gender-based discrimination and 95 per cent of the gap between the earnings of male and female casual wage workers is due to discrimination.

According to the report, gender discrimination is the reason for 98 per cent of the employment gap between males and females.

“Women in India despite their same educational qualification and work experience as men will be discriminated in the labour market due to societal and employers’ prejudices,” it said.

The report further said that 93 per cent of the gap in earnings of males and females is due to discrimination.

“Rural self-employed males earn twice of what females earn in rural areas. Male casual workers earn Rs 3,000 per month more than females, 96 per cent of which is attributed to discrimination,” it said.

As high as 91.1 per cent of the gap in earnings between males and females is explained by discrimination.

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The academically recognised statistical model applied in the report is now able to quantify the discrimination women face in the labour market. The lower wages for salaried women are due to 67 per cent of discrimination and 33 per cent due to lack of education and work experience, the report said.

Oxfam India called on the government to actively enforce effective measures for the protection and right to equal wages and work for all women. The Government of India should also incentivise the participation of women in workforce, including enhancement in pay, upskilling, job reservations and easy return-to-work options after maternity, the report said.

What the report finds is if a man and woman start on an equal footing, the woman will be discriminated against in the economic sphere where she will lag behind in regular/salaried, casual and self-employment, said Amitabh Behar, CEO of Oxfam India.

“The inequality in the labour market for gender and other social categories, the report finds, is not just due to poor access to education or work experience but because of discrimination,” he said.

These findings are based on the government data on employment and labour from 2004-05 to 2019-20.

The Oxfam India report refers to unit level data from 61st round National Sample Survey (NSS) data on employment-unemployment (2004-05), the Periodic Labour Force Survey in 2018-19 and 2019-20 and All India Debt and Investment Survey by the government.