An Empirical Study of Socio-Economic Status of Meo Muslims in Mewat Region: Emerging Issues and Trends


Dr. S. B. Yadav

Associate Professor and Research Supervisor, PG Dept of Economics, BSR GAC Matsya University,

Alwar (Rajasthan) 301001

*Corresponding Author E-mail:



The advent of globalization has led to emerging concerns about the development of regions. It is envisaged that while the developed regions will continue to grow further, the underdeveloped or backward regions might further get marginalized. To address the issue of growth duality, there is a need for balanced growth or development across all regions. Furthermore, there is a consensus internationally that development should not only be viewed from a lens of economic growth but it must encompass indicators, such as social, equity, health etc. The first step towards building the strategy for a balanced growth is to formulate area specific developmental strategies, which can be prepared by identification of multi-dimensional development indicators at a disaggregated level. This can help in identifying disparities across regions and social groups, and also identifying the share of population in the region that suffers multiple deprivations at the same time. Such information can be utilized to prepare policies for development that are based on strong evidences.

This study is an attempt to explore the ground reality of socio-economic status of Meo- Muslims in the Mewat region which is comparatively less advanced to other adjoining areas in both Rajasthan and Haryana state. This empirical study has been structured in three sections. Section one presents introductory note on the selected problem for research. Review of literature has been discussed in second section. The need of this study based on the observation of the past studies has been highlighted in order to investigate untouched socio-economic dimension and emerging features of the unaddressed issue of Meo community so far. Third section consists of the detailed socio-economic profile of the Mewat region which ends with major findings and recommendations.


KEYWORDS: Globalisation, Socio-economic, Economic Growth, Backward region, Equity.




Mewat is predominantly inhabited by Meo Muslims whose origins can be traced back to the early Aryan invasion of Northern India when they called them Kshatriyas. History suggests that majority of them embraced Islam during the period of Tughlaq dynasty in the 14th century A.D. and Mughal emperor Aurangazeb in 17th century A.D. 


However, they preserved their social and cultural traits and as a result, the Mewatis possess a distinct ethno-cultural identity influenced by both Hinduism and Islam (‘Mewat Profile 2011’). Traditionally, Mewat is a distinct socio-cultural and ethnological region named after its predominant inhabitant’s viz. The Meo speak Mewati, a language of Indo-Aryan language family. Mewat has come to mean “where the Meos live” because the extent and area is coterminous with the settlement of the Meos. They are steeped in social, economic and educational backwardness. Known as Meo Muslims who share a common ancestry with Hindu Rajputs, they identify closely with them in several social and culture customs. 

The district level analysis of aggregate development reveals that Mewat is the least developed region of Rajasthan and Haryana. Specifically in terms of the standard of living, education and health indices, Mewat lagged way behind to other districts of Rajasthan and Haryana. One can easily find major differences between adjoining districts and Mewat region in Rajasthan and Haryana with respect to living standard, living habit, education, health, sanitation, transportation etc.



Followings are the main aims of the study:

(i)     To understand the existing level of backwardness across blocks within the Mewat region.

(ii)   To study typology of development in  Mewat region irrespective of gender, age and occupation.

(iii) To analyse multi-dimensional aspects of life style and living habits of people in Mewat region; and

(iv)  To explore impediments and constraint to development of Meo community across Mewat region in order to suggest appropriate strategies.



The following proposed hypothesis to be tested:  

(i)     The socio-economic status of Mewat is distinct to their Hindu counterpart in the region.

(ii)   The culture of Meo- Muslim is traditional and patriarchal and women are generally perceived as inferior to men.

(iii) People in Mewat do not prioritized education due to the patriarchal nature of the society.

(iv)  Community belief and traditions such as custom of early marriage and preference to religious education over formal education are some of the factors which limit educational opportunities available.



As as far as review of literature is concerned, there is very few numbers of studies on Meo-Muslims of Mewat region. Uneven and imbalanced regional development has been a persistent problem stretching through decades. Even though inconsistent and patchy development in states has caught a lot attention of policy makers in India, the trend of disparities across groups and sectors has escalated in recent years (Planning Commission, 2014). According to Social Policy Research Institute (2004) regional and economic inequalities are an outcome of uneven distribution of physical and natural resources. Realizing that there are differences among districts within a state in terms of socioeconomic characteristics, policy makers have shifted their attention long back from the state to the district level for development planning.



There are relatively richer states which have districts ranking poorly on all indicators of development, and poorer states which have rich districts ranking relatively better on all indicators of development (Nayyar, 2005). Keeping in mind both interstate and intrastate regional disparities, various committees have been constituted in the past both at national and state level to deal with the issue of backwardness. Over the years, these committees have come up with their findings and recommendations to improve the quality of life of people living in the backward areas. The committees followed one of two approaches to identify backward areas: either identifying a set of indicators or calculating indices. The following sub sections demarcate and discuss the central and state initiatives for identifying and estimating backwardness of regions.


The planning commission also appointed the National Committee on Development of Backward Areas (NCDBA) in 1978, which recommended six types of problem areas to be treated as fundamentally backward. Specifically, they were chronically drought prone areas, desert areas, tribal areas, hill areas, chronically flood affected areas and coastal areas affected by salinity.


In succession, the Rajinder Sachar Committee was appointed in 2005 by the then prime minister to prepare a report on the social, economic and educational condition of the Muslim community of India. It is the first report that focuses on capturing the backwardness of Indian Muslims.


The Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India (GOI,), has identified 90 minority concentrated backward districts using eight indicators of socio-economic development and amenities based on 2001 census data. Since, there are changes in those indicators after 2001, a baseline survey has been conducted to provide the multi-sector development plan with the latest deficits and priorities. Under this study, Mewat district of Haryana has been identified as one of the Minority Concentrated Districts that severely lags behind in terms of socio-economic parameters of development.


A Baseline Survey of Minority Concentration Districts of India conducted by Institute of Human Development (2008) outlined that Mewat district lags behind development parameters when compared to the rest of the state. Infrastructural facilities in Mewat have not been developed to the level that exists in other districts of Haryana and Rajasthan. This is the reason why literacy percentage of the population and the health facilities is abysmally low. The absence of proper educational infrastructure has made the employment of youth quite grim. Historically, Mewat was the military bye pass for the Muslim invaders who invaded Delhi.


‘The Mewati Duniya’  one of the literary, social and welfare organisation emphasized that Mewat, land of the Meos, has its genesis in its tribal inhabitants, the Meo tribals, who are agriculturalists. The area is a distinct ethnic and socio-cultural tract. The Meos, who trace their roots to the early Aryans of North India, call themselves Kshatriyas and have preserved their social and cultural traits to a surprisingly large extent, unlike the other tribes of nearby areas


Meo Shiksha Panchayat focused on a mismatch between traditional cultural and religious beliefs and the ‘modern’ formal school education system has driven up the non-enrolment rate, especially of girls, among Meo Muslims. According to official estimates, the proportion of Meo Muslim girls in school is less than 1 per cent in the Mewat region.


The Centre for Policy Studies (2016) argued in its study that the Muslims of Mewat have not only increased their numeric dominance in the decades since Independence, they are also in the process of excluding non-Muslims from the economic activity of the towns. With their dominant numbers, they of course dominate the polity of the region. It is indeed a measure of their political clout in the affairs of Haryana that a separate district has been carved out for them.



None of the above study talks about some of the base level issues related to this community which invite urgent attention of the policy planners and academicians working in this very important field. After globalisation, there has been significant improvement in development indicators at national level but not in Mewat region. However, most of the studies points out that increasing population in Mewat have created many socio-economic threats to the development of the Meo community. The following indicators show the gap between the all India and Mewat region which draw attention to prioritises policy intervention. This study is an attempt to focus on the following issue:

(a)    The gap between the population growth rates of Meo-Muslims and others has been relatively smaller, with the former growing by 44.6 percent and the latter by 23.6 percent during the last decade. The rise in the share of Muslims in the population, therefore, has been relatively modest, from 33.1 percent in 2001 to 36.6 percent in 2011, though it is quite large in absolute terms. As against the

(b)   All-India average of literacy rate is 67.3 per cent while in Mewat it is only 53.2 per cent (Census, 2011). There is low literacy among Muslims (52.75 per cent) as compared to their Hindu counterparts (56.14 per cent). The female literacy rate is very low in comparison to the male literacy figures.

(c)    The literacy rate of females in Meo community is only 33.98 per cent, while the male literacy rate is 69.47 per cent. The problem of access to schools is a major reason for low female literacy rates.

(d)   The sex ratio of Mewat was 894 against the national average of 927 according to census of  2011.

(e)    The work participation rate among Hindu males is high with 43.36 per cent, than of the Meo-Muslim males where it is 38.04 per cent (Out of them 44.37 per cent were engaged in cultivation).

(f)    Child marriages are still traditionally taking place in Meo-Muslims even custom makes a younger brother or a cousin marries the widow of the deceased.

(g)    As far as percentage of households with water closet latrines are concerned only  12.86% households have in comparison to the national average of 39.2%(2005).

(h)   The percentage of fully vaccinated children among Meo-Muslims reported 8.04% against the national average of  43.5% (2005).

(i)     Mewat region has very poor health awareness as only 7.01% are institutional delivery   against the national average of 38.7% in 2005.


Considering all indices of development, Mewat performance on all parameters, except demographic index, is worse than all districts of Rajasthan and Haryana.



As far as scope of this study is concerned, it confines only to Mewat region that spread in Rajasthan and Haryana states only. It covers only socio-economic and related aspect of the Meo community. This study attempts to examine socio-economic status of Meo community during the last 20 years after 2001 and onwards.  


This study is primarily based on primary data collection method from the chosen area of study. This study first identifies indicators of development which are grouped into several indices of development such as Standard of Living Index, Education Index, Health Index, Agriculture, and Livestock Index etc. Both inter and intra-district analysis of development to be conducted whereby, initially, Mewat region is compared with other parts of Rajasthan and Haryana on selected indices of development and then the typology of development is mapped across 13 blocks of Mewat.


As far as secondary sources are concerned, Journals, detailed census reports, reports of Ministry of Minority Affairs, Mewat Development Board Haryana, Mewat Development Agency Rajasthan and other published and unpublished reports shall be consulted in addition to the other studies which have been conducted by various researchers of NGOs and other sponsoring agencies including Ministry of Minority Affairs. The Census 2011 data were also used for sampling.



Since a majority of people of Meo- Muslim community depend on agriculture and dairy farming in Mewat region.  There are more than 1.8 million people scattered through approximately 1,200 villages across the Mewat region of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana. Socio-economic status of Meo community is quite low in comparison to their Hindu counterparts across the region. Vital indicators like education (child enrolment and female literacy), health (child birth and death rate, institutional delivery), toilets, electricity, pucca houses, road, child marriage etc. were found low to national average.


It is therefore, urgent need to address the core issues of Meo community in order to bring them in national mainstream of development. Also their proportion to urban population is lower than to their Hindu neighbours.


Mewat region comprising the newly created Mewat district of Haryana, the adjoining Hathin tahsil of Palwal and several contiguous tahsils of Alwar (5) and Bharatpur (3) districts of Rajasthan—is the homeland of Meo Muslims. They form nearly 50 percent of the population of this region; their presence is above 70 percent in several tahsils and reaches 85 percent in a couple of them. Their growth in all of these tahsils has been very high during the last four decades for which we have compiled the data.


Thus, in the five tahsils of the region that fall in Haryana, and which together accommodate more than a million Muslims in 2011, their share in the population has risen from 62 percent in 1971 to 75 percent now. In Pahari tahsil of Bharatpur, their proportion has grown even faster, rising from 63 percent in 1991 to 73 percent in 2011. Similarly, Meo-Muslims have a share of more than one-third in the population of five blocks of Alwar district in Rajasthan. Every tahsil in the region has experienced a similarly high growth in the presence of Muslims in this period. Mewat has more than 1.8 million Meo-Muslims. In the last decade alone, the Muslims in this core part of Mewat have grown by 45 percent compared to the rate of growth of just about 16 percent for the rest of the population. This core part of Mewat seems on the way to becoming an exclusive Muslim pocket in the near future.


The Institute for Human Development, Delhi recently did a socio-economic survey of the Mewat district of Haryana as a minority concentration district. The survey was sponsored by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India. It is titled as A Baseline Survey of Minority Concentration Districts—Mewat, Haryana. This study presents that the newly created Mewat district in Haryana has a total population of 9.93 lakhs. 95.36% cent of its population is rural and just about 4.64 %is urban. The population of the minority community, which are Muslims, account for 70.9% of the total, with 74.3% of them being rural population. They are listed under the OBC category which means they are recognized as part of the backward class communities. 



The Muslims constitute a majority in Mewat. Out of 900 households surveyed in 30 villages, 82.02 % are Muslims and 17.94 % are Hindus. On an average 5.65 members live in a Hindu family, while Muslim families are a bit larger with 6.75 members. The sex ratio of the Hindu population was reported to be 742 against 834 of Muslim population. The average sex ratio for the surveyed households is reported to be 819 which is very low to national average.



The literacy rate recorded in Mewat district was 44.07% per cent. It consisted of 61.53 % of literate males as against 24.26 % literate females. In comparison to the state average literacy of 68.59 %, there was a gap of nearly 24 %. The male-female gap in literacy rates within the district was about 37 %. The sex ratio of Mewat was 894 females against 1,000 males against the state average of 861. It suggests better sex ratio in comparison to the state figure, but much worse in comparison to the national average of 927. Only 40 % of population constitutes the active workforce. Out of them 44.37% were engaged in cultivation.



The district is also deficient in educational infrastructure. It has three colleges and only one polytechnic and seven Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) or Vocational Educational Institutions(VEI) which reveals the precarious situation of educational facilities. Primary schools exist in 78.14% of the villages, but there is a shortfall of Middle, High School and Senior Secondary Schools which is 9.30, 6.91 and 3.77 % respectively. Therefore girls’ formal education suffers from neglect. The girls belonging to Muslim communities prefer to go to Madarasas and not to high schools which are not located in the village. These are considered safe and secure. Children who have never enrolled in government schools are about one fifth of the total population of children i.e., 5-16 year age group. Those left after enrolment, are nearly one-tenth of the total. Among the Muslims, 8.65% of students are reported to be attending informal schools called madarasas. Only 1.61 % of Hindu students are found to be in informal schools This needs to be addressed on urgent basis in order to bring them in national mainstream of growth and development in the new millenium.



The district has poor health infrastructure. The Primary Health Centres (PHC) cover just 10 % of population, while the sub-centres, which lack trained medical professionals, cover 64.71% of population. Therefore, the response to institutional delivery is not encouraging. Due to the lack of qualified medical professionals, quacks have good business in villages. Out of 30 villages, 24 villages have no PHC, and no Community Health Centre (CHC). In 17 villages there is no primary health sub centre. Hospitals and dispensaries exist only in three villages. 27 villages i.e. 90 % of the villages do not have basic maternity and child welfare centres.


Availability of water closet latrines remains the most critical gap. Nearly 91.31% of Hindus and 86.30 % of Muslims defecate in the open. Only about 14 % cent of Muslims and 8.69 % of Hindus have in-house toilet facilities. The poor sanitary conditions may well be gauged by the fact that 27.62 % of the Hindu settlements and 41.15 % of Muslim settlement areas are devoid of drainage facilities. The total sanitation campaign seems to have no visible impact in Mewat district, since the district seems to be way behind the target. 



As against the All-India average of 67.3%, the literacy rate of Mewat is only 53.2%. There is low literacy among Muslims (52.75%) as compared to their Hindu counterparts (56.14 %). The female literacy rate is very low in comparison to the male literacy figures. The literacy rate of females is only 33.98 %, while the male literacy rate is 69.47 %. The problem of access to schools is a major reason for low female literacy rates. Low literacy is also due to poor enrolment and high rate of drop outs, apart from non availability of schools. 


Although electricity is not a critical gap in Mewat district, it still needs attention as nearly half of the households of the district are not electrified yet. Nearly 58.16 % of Hindu and 54.23 % of Muslim households had their houses electrified. However, there was also heavy dependence on non-electrified sources in Mewat region. 



Nearly 90% of the households have access to drinking water, which is a bit more than the all-India figure of 87.9%. About 66 % of Hindus and 58.12% of Muslims relied on the use of public source, while 25.63% of Hindus and 31.30 % of Muslims had private arrangements for drinking water. Sources that are not regarded safe for drinking water, such as the public protected and unprotected wells, are also used for drinking purposes.



Almost all the households in the surveyed villages have their own houses. Nearly 78.73 %of the household live in pucca houses, while the all-India figure for the same is only 59.4 %. However, some 8.47% and 12.37 % live in thatched and kutchha houses respectively.



Out of 30 villages surveyed only 12 villages had post offices, while in other 18 villages people had to travel about 4.6 kms to avail postal facilities. Even public telephone booths were available in only nine villages and in rest, the villagers had to travel a distance of 6.3 km to avail this facility. Only 4 villages had Rural Banks and none of the villages had any commercial banks. Commercial banks were located at a distance of nearly eight kms.


Anganwadi centres existed in all the 30 villages, the fair price i.e. the ration shop did not exist in three villages. In 11 villages there were no general shops and the villagers had to travel a distance of 11 km to reach a general merchant shop.


Twenty six villages had no mandi shop, the villagers had to travel eight km to reach a mandi shop. Dairy was an important source of income but milk mandis existed only in eight villages and in 19 other villages, villagers had to travel a distance of 6.6 km to reach to a milk mandi.


There was no veterinary hospital in 13 villages and villagers had to travel 8.7 km to reach to a veterinary hospital. Markets are also quite far off. In the absence of such facilities, this region fails to attract industries, which certainly has adverse impact on the livelihood of the people.



The advent of globalization has led to emerging concerns about the development of regions. It is envisaged that while the developed regions will continue to grow further, the underdeveloped or backward regions might further get marginalized. To address the issue of growth duality, there is a need for balanced growth or development across all regions. Furthermore, there is a consensus internationally that development should not only be viewed from a lens of economic growth but it must encompass indicators, such as social, equity, health etc. The first step towards building the strategy for a balanced growth is to formulate area specific developmental strategies, which can be prepared by identification of multi-dimensional development indicators at a disaggregated level. This can help in identifying disparities across regions and social groups, and also identifying the share of population in the region that suffers multiple deprivations at the same time. Such information can be utilized to prepare policies for development that are based on strong evidences.


After globalisation there has been multiple change in socio-economic conditions of people in Mewat but still a lot needs to done. This study tries to focus on the present status and changes that have taken place since the turn of 21st century in Meo-society. Attempts has to be made to have an awareness campaign within the society so that they could avail fruits of development. This particular study is very relevant to Meo society and policy planners in state of Haryana and Rajasthan and centre as well. According to the reports, it was found that all vital parameters of development were comparatively low across Mewat region to the national average. This brings out the real picture of socio-economic status of Meo people, Meo women and children which might be used for policy planning and development strategy for this community. Their access to resources and services is very limited. Literacy rate is very low especially in Meo women which became a root cause to development. Low level of education, poverty, unemployment, Sex Ratio, gender equality, women empowerment, child marriage, high birth and death rate of Meo children are some of the urgent issues that need to be brought out  before the Meo-society and government officials, so that awareness could be created among Meo-society in order to bring them back into national mainstream of development. We believe that myriad efforts are required at various levels involving all stakeholders- women, men, religious leaders and civil society organisations and the government to mainstream women.


Therefore, this study is to suggest way forward and future strategy in order to improve all these indicators and bring it to the all India level under the Five Year Plans. Ghanghi ji once argued that India cannot develop unless all sections of society are developed. Mewat region should come forward to pace with development across all states where Meo community has dominance



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Received on 16.09.2017                Modified on 17.10.2017

Accepted on 22.12.2017            © A&V Publications All right reserved

Int. J. Ad. Social Sciences. 2018; 6(1):51-56.

DOI: 10.5958/2454-2679.2018.00003.8