The Economic Potential Of Minority Is Underutilized In Pakistan
Minorities are a segregated small group of people in a society having different characteristics based on religious beliefs, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. Government agencies recognize that basic needs and opportunities provided to them are inferior comparatively to the Majority group. I have been exposed to a lot of information through media regarding the minorities’ rights and issues in Pakistan. However, I have not found much information regarding their financial advantages as human capital in Pakistan.
While we have religious minorities in workforce, Pakistani women are considered as Minority in work force at large because employment to population ratio is approx. 20% for females and 80% of female population is underutilized for employment. If we compare the attractiveness of Chinese market on international level, labor cost for products and services there is very cheap due to higher population in workforce. Chinese market is employing higher ratio of their female work force for the economy growth. Chinese women build approx. 44% of the total labor force as of 2019. If we had employed an additional 30% non employed female human resource, we would have reduced the cost per unit in production. By doing so, we could have become more competitive in regional and international market.
As per statistics, there is only 6% of population as Minority in Pakistan comprising Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, and Buddhists. Some Muslim sects also fall under Minority category like Ahmadis, Boharis and Ismaelis. In 1970s, when Pakistani constitution was amended according to Shariah compliance, these minorities were targeted by extremist religious elements in the country and situation got worse in 1980s era. Pakistani flag has a white stripe representing the Minority groups in the Muslim state. One of the famous Mohamed Ali Jinnah’s addresses in August 1947 was, “You are free: you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in the State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed. That has nothing to do with the business of the State.”
Mohamed Ali Jinnah’s address clearly dismantled any form of discrimination with religious minorities; State was not to sanction or provide space to discriminatory practice. Contrarily, as per my exposure and understanding, these minorities in Pakistan have been at the receiving end of maltreatment. No wonder, they consider themselves as an inferior class in society and their self esteem is on the edge. They accept that the people from dominant religious class will rule them in every area.
As per article 25 in the constitution, every citizen is entitled to equal protection by law. Unfortunately, in reality, Pakistani government has been unable to provide the equal treatment to some of the religious and gender based minorities many times. There have been many events when these minorities were ambushed by the religious extremist segment. The transgender community has been facing harassment. As per 2017 census, transgender rights groups confirmed transgender population figure to be 10,000 in Pakistan.
Transgender normally do not find any opportunities for education and employment in Pakistani market. To compare the potential of Pakistani transgender human resource, I would look at the self made Hollywood and European multi-millionaire transgender celebrities. They fall under the category of entrepreneurs and are employed in fashion and media industry as dress designers, makeup artists, runway models, social media and mainstream media celebrities.
On the other hand, I could not find any data on transgender employment proportions in national workforce in Pakistan. Every citizen in Pakistan is a form of human capital for the nation. We cannot allow the rebellious elements of society to exclude a particular group from the country’s capital. One of the major issues regarding the exclusive mindset of society is ignorance and misuse of Shariah law by extremist elements in a male dominant society. Looking at the global situation, I find that Majority/dominant group of people in every region is generally creating difficulties for the minorities and considering them non-beneficial. Merely advocating for the rights of minorities is not enough. The need is to change the mindset.
What is the estimated quantity of ‘potential’ pool of intellectuals and highly skilled workers from the Minority groups? I could not find the relevant data figures. I just wanted to evaluate the cost of missing opportunity inform of human asset for Pakistan’s economy. For example, we can refer to the data of provincial and state level statistics to find how many brilliant girls appeared in Matric board exams with A+ and A grade, but not in secondary board exams subsequently? To evaluate the advantages of these minorities in a society, we should compare the jobless, corrupted and unconstructive human capital from the dominant group with the Minority’s potential resourcefulness. For the most part, Minority groups are intelligent, competent enough to acquire new skills to work towards the nation’s growth. We need to have more diverse and medium to high skilled workers in Pakistani society to create fair competition and harness harmony.
Pakistani government should impose a strict law for child care rights among Minority groups and ensure that every kid is sent to school than to work. If working, these children should go to government/charitable “night schools” to receive primary education. Our mindset for minorities’ treatment leads us ignoring them as potential human asset which is destructive for a society. We are creating hindrances for economic growth just because the minorities are not privileged and not given credit for their potential competencies. In view of Mohamed Ali Jinnah’s address in August 1947, we need to provide minorities with religious freedom and equal opportunity for education and work. In my opinion, there should be a government policy for SMEs and Corporate organizations which would ensure that 5%-20% of employees are hired from Minority groups, thereby giving them opportunities to improve their lifestyle.