Think of the word ‘minority’. What is the image that conjures up in your mind?
Don’t blame yourself if the only image that comes up is that of a man sporting a skull cap in a pathani or a woman draped in black burqua holding an infant in her arm and one in the tow.
This is a result of years of conditioning and an over arching narrative perpetuated by few individuals and institutions who have deliberately sought to reinforce the perception that:
- The word ‘minority’ is synonymous with Muslims, and
- Nation is the unit to determine minority status of citizens.
The notions above, however, do not have any constitutional validity, which talks about religious and linguistic minorities and treats them at par. This is obvious from plain reading of Article 29 and 30. In fact when the term minorities is used in Article 30, the constitution makes it a point to emphasize that it means both religious and linguistic minorities.
Lets look at what Article 29 and 30 have to say:
Article 29 (1): Any section of citizens residing in the territory of India or any part there of having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.
Article 30 (1): All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutes of their choice.
Article 30 (2): The State shall not, in granting aid to educational institution on the ground that it is under management of minority, whether based on religion or education.
The two Articles above clearly establish that as per constitution religion is at par with language when it comes to establishing the ‘minority’ status. But the Nehruvian propagandists, Marxists and pseudo seculars would like us to believe that it is only about religious minorities and that too Muslims.
Before we go further, lets look at what the Supreme Court’s 11-judge bench had to say about “who constitutes the minority” in theTMA Pai Foundation case.
“The State is the unit to determine Religious and Linguistic Minorities. This cannot be determined at national level.”
“The opening words of Article 30 (1) make it clear that religious and linguistic minorities have been put on par…. Since the State is regarded as the unit to determine a linguistic minority vis-à-vis Article 30 and since religious minority is on the same footing, the State has to be the unit in relation to which the majority or minority has to be determined.”
It also says that..
“The determination of who is a minority for the purpose of Article 30 cannot have different meanings depending on who is legislating.”
It is therefore abundantly clear that state and not the country is the unit to decide the ‘minority’ status and not just religion but language is an equal criterion.
Lets look at some more facts now. You may never have been told about them.
The Hindus who contribute a majority nationally (80.5%) are religious minorities in seven States and one Union Territory of India. These are Jammu & Kashmir (29.6% of population), Punjab (36.9%), Nagaland (7.7%), Mizoram (3.6%), Meghalaya (13.3%), Manipur (46%), Arunachal Pradesh (34.6%) and Lakshadweep (3.7%).
The Supreme Court in another case involving Punjab Government made the majority – minority distinction even more clear.
In the case-involving petitioner Sahil Mittal, who moved the High Court against SGPC, the State of Punjab and Baba Farid University, the Punjab High Court held that Sikhs, even though they may be religious minority in India, are a majority in the State of Punjab since they constitute 59.9% of the population as per 2001 census.
The Punjab Government then challenged the verdict in Supreme Court. This case could have had grave implications for constitutional rights of Hindus in the country as they have been reduced to being minorities in several states and one union territory. The Supreme Court however struck down the plea citing the TMA Pai Foundation judgment.
As regards language, the Hindi speaking people – the largest linguistic group in the country constitutes 41.03% of the population. However, since they do not cross 50% threshold, they cannot be classified as majority nationally. If the entire country were to be the unit to decide ‘minority’ status, we would all be minority ! The fact is, it isn’t.
The above is significant as it implies that a Hindi speaking citizen in Karnataka or a Tamil lingua in Uttar Pradesh is entitled to rights and protection under constitution just as a Muslim in Bihar or a Hindu in Jammu & Kashmir.
It is therefore obvious that India is not a monolith when it comes to deciding who is a minority and definitely Muslims are not the only ‘minority’, as many would like us to believe.
We must ensure that Hindus, other religious and linguistic groupsare entitled to equal rights and protection as enshrined in the constitution for minorities.Let the Muslim apologists, Nehruvian secularists and propagandists (they all are the same people) not get away by creating a din !