No room for Muslim representation in education, media, corporates leadership boards?

Top management schools have no Muslims on their boards. Top engineering schools (IITB, IITD, IITM) see an identical figure. Similarly, top DU colleges also draw a blank. Private corporations show similar representations.

Indian Muslims

When the late Justice Sachar led committee submitted its report on the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community in India in 2006, the findings shocked even those who were expecting the community to not do well on the parameters. From literacy rate to participation in organised sector workforce, the representation of the community as a percentage of the overall population was disproportionately lesser. It did worse amongst other marginalised communities in India, like those along caste lines.

Muslims form approximately 15% of India’s population. The recent spike in Islamophobia in India made the Union Minister for Minority Affairs comment that “India is a heaven for Muslims and minorities”. The claim is debatable but it makes us look at some of the publicly available numbers at the apex bodies of educational (board of governors or similar) and professional institutions (board of directors or similar). 

Twitter user Rajat Dutta flagged some of these numbers recently. 



The top management schools (IIMA, IIMB, IIMC) see 0 Muslims across their board. Top engineering schools (IITB, IITD, IITM) see an identical figure. Similarly, top DU colleges like SRCC, St Stephens and Miranda House also draw a blank. Medical institutes (AIIMS Delhi, PGI Chandigarh & KGMU Lucknow), ICAI, IISc Bangalore also have no Muslim representations in their governing bodies. Amongst top law schools, NLSIU scores 1, NALSAR scores 2 and NUJS scores 0. Amongst other reputed Indian institutes, ISI Kolkata has 1/34 and JNU has 2/23.



The numbers are similarly skewed for students & faculty representation in higher education. For 2018-19, Muslim students in college education was at 5.23% and drops down to 2.19% for institutes of national importance. The numbers for Muslim faculty in the respective institutions stands at 5.35% and 2.88%. Consequently, this translates into their lower representation in the professional sphere, both public and private.

The percentage representation of Muslims in Lok Sabha since the Sachar Committee report, has been 4.9% (2019-24), 4.2% (2014-19) and 5.5% (2009-14). Even in the states with highest percentage of Muslim population, their numbers in the assembly is significantly lower than their share in population. At the Executive level, the last 3 union cabinets have seen the numbers at 1/24 (2019-24), 1/27 (2014-19) and 3/28(2009-14). 



The civil services, a highlight of the Sachar committee findings, hasn’t seen significant improvements. The average of Muslim students clearing the UPSC – CSE over the last decade has been a paltry 3.5%. At the other end, amongst the 29 DGPs (highest ranking IPS officers in a state, including J&K) and the 37 Chief Secretaries (highest ranking IAS officer for Indian states and Union Territories), the number is still a 0.

Within the judicial setup, only 1 Muslim judge has been on the bench as per the roster on 31st March/1st April, over the last 4 years. Amongst the current AG, SG and ASGs, there are 0/19 Muslim. None of the 19 members of the Bar Council of India are Muslims. Historically, only 7.21% of all advocates designated as “Senior” by the Supreme Court have been Muslims. The PSUs have a solitary Muslim member, amongst the boards of top 10 PSUs.

The private corporations show similar representations. Across the traditional Indian business houses, only Reliance has 1 Muslim board member where the Tatas, Mahindras, Birlas, Goenkas, Adanis all draw a blank. Amongst the multinational corporations, FMCG majors like HUL, P&G, ITC, Nestle, Pepsi India, Colgate Palmolive, Marico etc. again have 0 Muslims. The “Muslim-owned” business numbers read as 3/9 (Wipro), 4/10 (Cipla) and Wockhardt (4/11). Amongst the prominent financial institutions in India, the likes of SBI, HDFC, LIC, SEBI, RBI, NSE, BSE, PNB and ICICI – all have no Muslim representation amongst their respective boards.



The numbers are glaring but are from publicly available platforms. If you wonder why you’ve not seen this before, you might look up the numbers in the Indian media. Major TV & print media houses – the likes of the Times Group, HT Media, The Hindu, Indian Express, Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar, Manorama Malayalam, Outlook, NDTV, Republic, Zee news, ABP, India TV, Sun TV and even the News Broadcasting Association have 0 Muslim directors. Network 18 is the only outlet to feature 1 Muslim member. However, it is the same person on the board of Reliance, who owns the network.

Similar trends can be observed in other spaces. Without proper statistical analysis, it would be premature to assign correlation to a set of variables. While the reasons could be along any of the social, political or economic dimensions or a mix, the numbers point out an obvious gap in representation – which exists at all levels and becomes appalling at the top. Perhaps, India needs to revisit the Sachar Committee report and reflect on the tragic achievement of the Committee observations finding contemporary reflections.

( Disclaimer: The author wishes to remain anonymous. This is an independent research done by the author who spotted the initial thread discussing the subject on Twitter)



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