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Socio-economic Exclusion of Different Religious Communities in Meghalaya

Mishra, SK (2007): Socio-economic Exclusion of Different Religious Communities in Meghalaya.

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Meghalaya, a state in the North Eastern India, is inhabited by over 2.3 million of population of which 70 percent are Christian, 13 percent are Hindus and a little over 4 percent are Muslims as obtained in the Census 2001. In this study we investigate if numerical dominance of a community leads to socio-economic dominance. We have constructed two composite indices of exclusion by weighted aggregation of 13 socio-economic indicators. The first composite index (I1) is obtained by maximization of the sum of absolute coefficients of correlation of the index with the indicator variables, while the second index (I2) is constructed by the principal components analysis that maximizes the sum of squared coefficients of correlation of the index with the indicator variables. In our judgment, the first index presents the reality more correctly, as a number of indicators undermined by I2 are given their due representation in I1. A perusal of the index (I1) reveals that while the Christian segment of population in the rural areas of Meghalaya is certainly better off than their Hindu or Muslim counterparts, they score comparatively poorly in the urban areas of Meghalaya. In the urban areas, the Muslim segment of the population is in the most advantageous position, followed by the Hindus. The Christians segment of population is more intensively excluded from the benefits of development. Thus, numerical dominance of a particular religious community does not entail socio-economic advantages. The advantages of numerical dominance may well be absorbed by the intra-community inequalities in the command over resources and opportunities.

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