INTRODUCTION: According to a United Nations report, India’s population in 2019 was predicted to be 136.6 crores, with 80.5 percent Hindus, 13.4% Muslim, 2.3 percent Christians, 1.9 percent Sikhs, 0.8 percent Buddhists, 0.4 percent Jains, and 0.6 percent others. As a result, minorities are a group of individuals who are isolated from society simply because another group of people is larger, and minority groups are in a non-dominant position compared to a majority group. As a result, they feel oppressed, and such feelings are understandable in a democratic democracy.
The term ‘minority’ is derived from the Latin word “minor,” which is combined with the suffix “ity” to signify “little in number.” The United Nations defines minorities as “any group or society that is socially, politically, or economically non-dominant and inferior in the population.” The term “minority” is not specified anywhere in India’s constitution.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND BEHIND THE PROTECTION OF MINORITY RIGHTS UNDER THE CONSTITUTION: Invasions in Ancient and Medieval India resulted in the formation of minority communities such as Muslims, Anglo-Indians, Christians, and others. Because of the migration of populations fleeing religious persecution, such as Parsis, and the British colonial power’s Divide and Rule policy, India has become a melting pot of minorities. On the 13th of December 1946, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru proposed an objective motion in the Constituent Assembly, which was unanimously adopted on the 22nd of January 1947, establishing a protection mechanism for minority communities, depressed backward classes, and tribal areas of the country.
In 1948, the Constitutional drafting committee formulated a series of articles and laws under the heading “Special Provisions Relating to Minorities” in section XIV of the article 292-301. Minority special rights laws were significantly changed, and minorities now have no special rights other than cultural and educational rights. The constitution of India, which was enacted by the Constituent Assembly of India in November 1949 and entered into force on January 26, 1950, did not include any reservations for religious minorities in legislative bodies or public services, as was initially envisioned.
In India, minority rights protect persons against discrimination based on their ethnic, cultural, linguistic, or religious identity. Minority members must be able to learn and use their native language, use their own names, and maintain and openly express their identity. As a result, minority rights ensure equality before the law, basic freedom protection, non-discrimination and protection against violence based on identity, participation in political and public life, and opportunities for collaboration with other communities and organizations within and across borders. Minority rights are inextricably linked to human rights. They encourage tolerance and acceptance of differences. Their goal is to ensure that minorities and majorities coexist peacefully and work together to create a brighter future.
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS ACCORDED TO MINORITIES: Article 30(1) allows linguistic or religious minorities two rights- (a) the right to create, and (b) the right to run educational institutions of their choice.
Article 30(2) prohibits the state from discriminating against any educational institution that is managed by a linguistic or religious minority while awarding aid to educational institutions. It states that the state shall not discriminate against any educational institution because it is managed by a minority, whether on the basis of religion or language while awarding aid to educational institutions.
Article 30 provides protection to minorities in order to preserve and strengthen the country’s integrity and unity. The commonness of Indian boys and girls shall be developed in the field of general secular education. Through the means of education, this is done in the real spirit of liberty, equality, and fraternity. If minorities are not granted protection under Article 30, they would feel alienated and separate. For our compatriots to live in the entire, general secular education will open doors of awareness and act as a natural light of mind.
In Ahmedabad St. Xaviers College v. the State of Gujarat, the Supreme Court stated that the spirit of Article 30(1) is the nation’s conscience and that minorities, religious and linguistic, are not prohibited from establishing and administering educational institutions of their choice for the purpose of providing their children with the best general education possible to help them grow into complete men.
CONCLUSION: Minorities should never feel oppressed in a free democracy like India. To summarize, the constitution’s requirements to protect minorities’ rights from operation warden discrimination are quite important. The civilized quality of a country should not be assessed by how it treats minorities, as Mahatma Gandhi correctly stated. Though India’s track record in this area since independence does not appear to be promising, we nevertheless hope that the democratic values enshrined in the Indian Constitution’s preamble may one day become a reality for minorities as well.
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