Friday, February 6, 2009

DEFINING MINORITIES IN INDIA...

‘Minority’ I used this term in my previous article ‘Indian needs a change in relation with minorities’, I expressed what type of relation we need to develop with our certain minority group, so that their grief and complains against our society will improve, but I didn’t elucidate that ‘what is minority?’ and ‘who are the peoples comes under the definition of minorities in India?’ I hope I can make it clear in this article.
Indian democracy was the outcome of the freedom movement, which in turn based on the values of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. During the freedom movement, the Indian society was divided into two groups – Muslim league on one side and Hindu mahasabha and RSS on the other, and further which took lead to the creation of another state.
As India is considered as a multi cultural country, there exist a pluralism and Diversity. After the Independence, few sections whose interests stood to be threatened due to democracy with the social and political relations did raise hullabaloo about their religion coming under the threat.
Indian constitution like the most progressive modern constitution provided the concept of affirmative action (positive discrimination) for weaker sections of the society (SCs, STs, OBCs) and certain other type of provisions for security of minorities.
[ As stated by the United Nations, it defines the term Minority as ‘a subordinate group whose member have significantly less control or power over their lives than member of a dominant or majority group. A group that experiences a narrowing of opportunities (success, education, wealth etc) that is disproportionately low, compared to their numbers in the society]
The idea of these was that the religious, ethnic or linguistic groups that are numerically smaller should not feel intimidated, should not feel out of place and should feel free from the fear of being swept aside by the dominance of majority community, therefore deserving of special consideration.
The base of this provision was numerical weakness and social disadvantage due to various reasons. Accordingly, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis and Jews amongst others were logical religious minority. Some religion like Jainism and Sikhism were initially denied this minority status, as the dominant political forces asserted that it is not an independent religion but is a mere sect of Hinduism.
However, the Indian constitution does not define a minority or provide details relating to the geographical and numerical specification of the concept. Over the years, periodical judicial interventions and categorization has had a major indirect effect to defining minorities in India.
But the Indian constitution provides for the rights of minorities in details. The constitution provides two sects of rights of minorities which can be placed in ‘Common Domain’ and ‘Separate Domain’. The rights which fall in the ‘Common Domain’ are those which are applicable to all the citizens of our country and the rights which fall in the ‘Separate Domain’ are those which are applicable to the minorities only and these are reserved to protect their identity.
In the ‘Common Domain’, the rights are secured under the Art. 38(2), 46, 51(a)(i)(ii), 14, 15 (1)&(2), 15(4), 16 (1)&(2), 16(4), 25(1), 26, 27, and 28.
While in the ‘Separate Domain’, the right comes under Art. 29(1), 29(2), 30(1), 30(2), 347, 350(a), 350(b), 25(explanation 1)
These are some Rights conferred by our constitution for minorities in India.
The constitutional (103rd amendment) Bill 2004 to grant constitutional status to the National Commission for minorities envisaged a change in the way minorities are specified. The cabinet has reportedly approved a proposal (May 2007) to define minorities state wise in line with several Supreme Court judgment, most notably T.M.A Pai v State of Karnataka and P.A. Inamdar v State of Maharashtra.
Defining minorities in India is very difficult task as India is a diverse society and therefore it is not possible and reasonable to define minorities on the basis of national classification. The minority status of a person varies state to state, especially when religion/ethnic criterion is to be taken. For example – there may be a lot of Parsis in Mumbai but hardly in Ranchi, Christians might not be a minority in Kerala or Goa but they must definitely are in Uttar Pradesh or Assam. The former in that place would not need protection, while the latter will. If all India count would be take, than I think it would be too generalize.
Dr. Ambedkar tried to overcomethis dilemma by suggesting that majorities should create a situation where the minority does not have to seek shelter under the minority tag and minorities should try to overcome that label and avoid taking recource to being minority.
After all, the onus is on Government, how it would take this complicated issue of Minorities. I hope it will be good and favorable for both the group.

- Mohammed Farhan khan

3 comments:

ajitha here 4 law said...

good one....... a hard and fast rule cannot be established to define minorities..... but what is the solution which u think would be apt...

u asked me to write more clearly... what i lack explain me in detail

The Thinker - just a human... said...

Well said dear...very well written...

MOHAMMED FARHAN KHAN said...

thanx to both of u ...that u read my article and appreciate it,

Ajitha - i think it is better to define minorities on state level basis, it wil be far better than the whole India count. I think to define minorities on state level is nt a big task, little barrier comes but it can be easily answered.