BY RJ REINHART / News Gallup
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Seventy-five years after India’s independence and its partition into a predominantly Hindu India and predominantly Muslim Pakistan, Gallup surveys in India show the country’s large remaining Muslim minority and its Hindu majority are living in two Indias.
Over the past several years, both Muslim Indians and Hindu Indians have been struggling more economically, but their economic pain has not been evenly distributed, and Muslim Indians are far more pessimistic about their future prospects. In 2021, a slim majority of Muslim Indians (51%) said their standard of living was getting worse, compared with 39% of Hindu Indians.
Muslim Indians have been the target of discrimination and prejudice since Indian independence, despite legal protections for the group. Discrimination and bias targeting the Indian Muslim population have reportedly intensified in recent years, making the group more susceptible to negative impacts from economic issues.
For both groups, perceptions that standards of living were worsening shot up between 2018 and 2019, as the Indian economy entered a deep slowdown. Among Muslim Indians, the percentage jumped to 45% in 2019, up from 25% the previous year. And among Hindu Indians, the percentage saying the same hit 37% in 2019, an increase of 19 percentage points from 2018.
For much of Gallup’s trend, there was a relatively small gap between the two groups in perceptions that their living standards were worsening. Until 2019, this area had no more than an eight-point gap. The current 12-percentage-point gap between Muslim and Hindu Indians in perceptions that living standards were getting worse is the largest in Gallup’s trend.
Muslim Indians Have Tougher Time Making Ends Meet
Clear majorities of both Muslim and Hindu Indians say they are finding it difficult or very difficult to get by on their present household incomes. However, Muslim Indians in 2021 were more likely to say so than Hindu Indians, 71% vs. 64%.
As with perceptions of the trajectory of standards of living, views on household income have soured sharply since 2018. In 2018, 47% of Muslim Indians and 50% of Hindu Indians said they were finding it difficult to get by; this jumped to 56% and 55%, respectively, in 2019 and rose even more in 2021.
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