Minority Communities

Minority Communities- Minority communities are the communities who have lesser percentage of their population reciding in the country and they have lesser population. Their demands and addressals to be fulfilled is the prime duty of government and the government should fulfill all their basic rights such as education, property, shelter,basic income etc. In India there are many minority groups. On the basis of religion the minority groups are Islam, Christian,Parsis,Jains,Buddhists,Sikhs etc (Hindus are majority in Population). In terms of communities the minority communities are SC’S,ST’S,OBC’S,Untouchables etc.

The problems related with the minority communities are unequal representation in the working places, unequal share or distribution of the property,unequal access to education and shelter,basic economic fulfillments,basic rights of living etc. And there is always the problem of communal tensions and religious intolerance among different communities of the society in India which results in violent protests, widespresd protests etc.The biggest issue that the country faces today is the growing rifts between hindus and muslims in the name of religion. Take the case of Babri Masjid Case in 1992 where thousands of Hindus and Muslims were killed on either sides and were left with social tensions and mental trauma.

Though government has given them reservations in government sector jobs,panchayati system,electoral process and community working places still their condition are worse because the implementation of these policies are not properly done and there is lack of knowledge and social awareness among these communities so they are unable to take the benefits of the government policies. Recently the government removed Hajj Tax for Muslims and implemented Triple Talaq Law in India which are great indicatives taken by the government to improve the conditions of this minority communities and bring social harmony in country .

But there are some controversial issues such as NRC, CAA, Mob Lynching etc which creates social unrest and disharmony among the communities which results in violent protests. Because of the differences in socio-cultural practices, history and backgrounds, minorities have to grapple with the issue of identity everywhere which give rise to the problem of adjustment with the majority community. Different identity and their small number relative to the rest of the society develop feeling of insecurity about their life, assets and well being. This sense of insecurity may get accentuated at times when relations between the majority and the minority communities in a society are strained or not much cordial. The Constitution of India provides for special rights to both linguistic and religious minorities ”to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice ‘under Article 30.The essence of Article 30[1] is to ensure equal treatment between the majority and minority institutions.

Article 30[2] bars the state, while granting aid to educational institutions, from discriminating against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of a linguistic or a religious minority. These are some of the rights which are granted by the Constitution of India but despite all this the minority sections of the society becomes the most weaker sections of the society and thus they are deprived of their basic fundamental rights which they could fairly enjoy in the society. So it is the need of the hour to address their grievances and the government can make policies which can suit their interests such as free education, giving them subsidies, giving them relaxation in taxes, giving them some relaxations in working and educational places etc which would surely create social peace and harmony among all sections of society. Of the 29 states in India, seven-Gujarat (2003) ,Madhya Pradesh (1968) ,Himachal Pradesh (2006) ,Odisha (1967) , and Chattisgarh (1968) have adopted a Freedom of Religion Act commonly referred to as an anti-conversion law. These anti-conversion laws generally ban religious conversion by use of force, inducement, or any fraudulent means; aiding any person in such a conversion is also banned.

However, these laws have resulted in inequitable practices against minorities. One of the debated points linked with freedom of religion for many years in India is whether the right’’ to freedom of conversion’’ is associated with the ‘’right to freedom of religion’’ envisaged in Article 25 of the Constitution. Dissimilar with some other countries constitutions, which recognize freedom of conversion, there is no clear provision referring to ‘’conversion’’ in the Constitution of India. Hence, Article 25 is usually cited with a perception that the ‘’freedom of conversion’’ emerges from ‘’freedom of conscience’’. A 1954 Supreme Court of India judgment in the case of Ratilal Panachand Gandhi vs. State of Bombay has made the provision of Article 25 clearer by confirming that

Every person has a fundamental right under our Constitution not merely to entertain such religious belief as may be approved of by his judgment conscience but to exhibit his belief and ideas in such over acts as are enjoined or sanctioned by his religion views for the education of other.’’

However, in another judgment in the case of Digyadarshan Rajendra Ramdassji vs. State of Andhra Pradesh (1969) the apex court decided that ‘’the right to propagate one’s religion means the right to communicate a person’s beliefs to another person or to expose the tenets of that faith, but would not include the right to ‘convert’ another person in the former’s faith.

Although the anti-conversion laws do not explicitly ban conversions, in practice these laws ‘’both by their design and implementation, infringe upon the individual’s right to convert, favor Hinduism over minority religions , and represent a significant challenge to Indian Secularism. ‘’ While the laws apparently protect religious communities only from efforts to encourage conversion by inappropriate ways , the failure to clearly define what makes a conversion inappropriate gives state governments unregulated discretion to accept or reject the legitimacy of religious conversions. State governments in India have described ‘’subtle forms of humanitarian aid and development carried out as a normal part of a Church’s Mission as a cause of improper and unethical conversions.’’ India has always had this negative view of Humanitarian efforts; even the ‘’Father of the Nation’’ Mahatma Gandhi, before the transfer of power in India once said

‘’Who am I to prevent them? If I had power and could legislate, I should certainly stop all proselytizing. It is the cause of much avoidable conflict between classes and unnecessary heart-burning. But I should welcome people of any nationality if they came to serve here for the sake of service. In Hindu households the advent of a missionary has meant that disruption of the family coming in the wake of change of dress, manners ,language ,food and drink.’’

Since the inception of India in 1947, various efforts were made by the Central Government to pass nationwide legislation to control religious conversions in India. In 1954, Jethalal Harikrishna Joshi, a member of the then ruling Congress Party, moved in Parliament the Indian Converts (Regulation and Registration) Bill,1954 which enforced licensing of missionaries and the registration of conversion with government officials.

Under the Constitution of India, there are various provisions to safeguard the rights of minorities.[7] Preamble of the Constitution declares India to be a secular state. Article 15 prohibits any sort of discrimination when it comes to public employment, on the basis of religion,caste,language,race and so on.This guarantees equal employment opportunities to all the Indian citizens in case of government offices.

Protection Given To Minority Communities-The right to profess, practice and propagate any religion has been guaranteed to every person as a fundamental right under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution. This Article allows the minority communities to follow their beliefs and practices without any hindrance as long as it does not hamper public order, morality and health of any person. Article 26 gives the freedom to the religious and charitable purposes; owning, acquiring and administering movable and immovable property. Article 27 prohibits any compulsion on citizens to pay taxes, proceeds of which are to be appropriated in promotion of any particular religion. These are some of the rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution for the protection of the minorities in India and so as to promote peace and harmony among all sections of the society.

Keeping in view the importance of providing of providing rights and protection to the minorities in India the Constituent Assembly had setup an Advisory Committee under the Chairmanship of Sardar Patel on the subject of Fundamental Rights including rights of minorities. The Advisory Committee thus appointed five sub-committees was particularly on minorities headed by H.C. Mukherjee. The sub-committee made various recommendations regarding the safeguards for minorities in India. One such recommendation was about separate electorates for minorities; however, this recommendation was rejected referring to the past experience of sharpened communal differences. Thus it was decided that all elections to Central and Provincial legislatures were to be held on the basis of joint electorates with reservation of seats for certain specified minority groups according to their population ratio.

It was also proposed that the reservation of seats was to be done on experimental basis for only ten years, and final position with respect to reservation of seats to be considered at the end of ten years. The Advisory Committee finally decided that seats for recognized minority groups (namely; Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Anglo-Indians, Parsis and Tribal’s living in the plains of Assam) should be reserved in the legislatures in accordance to their population. These recommendations of the Advisory Committee were incorporated in the draft constitution as of October, 1947. However, later in the wake of partition of the country, it was felt that given the situation of the country it would no longer be possible to reserve seats for the minority groups on the basis of their religion. Thus in a subsequent meeting in the Advisory Committee made few new set of recommendations to the Constituent Assembly with respect to the minorities, which includes the following

1) The minorities in every part of the country shall be given protection with respect to their language, culture and religious scripts and no law to the contrary shall be enacted.

2) There shall be no discrimination against the minority group (be it religious, linguistic or ethic) with respect to admission to educational institution maintained out of public funds, nor shall specific religious instruction be imposed against them.

3) All minorities (based on religion, language or community identity) in any part of the country shall be free to establish and administer education institutions.

4) The state while providing funds should not discriminate against the educational institutions established and administered by the minority groups.

These recommendations were revised by the Constituent Assembly and took shape of Articles 29 and 30 in the final draft of the Constitution of India.

Aishwarya Says:

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