INDIAN CONSTITUTION ''A KNIGHT IN THE SHINING ARMOUR'' TO THE MINORITIES OF INDIA

By-Shivam Sharma

After the Independence movement since 1947 to the present 2020 India and its other neighbouring countries went through a lot, whether it is the Indo-china war(1962), Indo-pak wars(1965,1971,1999), India-srilanka tensions, Rohingya migrants issue, emergence of Covid-19 and other small-big dilemmas of each respective country. But there is one thing which needs to be heeded upon, when a country comes across any such issues, who is the one which gets affected the most? Who is the one which is extremely sensitive to any such political, economic, geographical conflicts?


Of Course the answer is the minority groups of a country. Minorities are the groups in a nation which are culturally, ethnically, linguistically and due to other factors are neglected or somehow numerically inferior to the rest of the population of a State. As obvious they are non-dominant groups so are subject to wide scale exploitation from other dominant groups in a country.


The Indian constitution mentioned the term 'minority' in Article 29 & 30 and these special provisions of constitution conferred to minorities ensure the protection and safeguard of their rights. But a lacuna which lies in here is the constitution of India for sure guarantees rights to minorities but it nowhere defines the term minority. It was left at the discretion of the State to determine what constitutes minorities in India and they(State) notified 6 religious minorities i.e. Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsis, Christians, Jains under National commission for minorities act.


Along with them exists the Linguistic minorities they are identified on a state-wise basis. Every state has some groups, sub-groups which completely differ from others due to their lifestyle, work, language, culture etc. and such groups may be recognised as Adivasis, Dalits and other tribal minority and backward groups.


PROBLEMS MINORITIES FACE AND THEIR CAUSES.

In the race of sustainability minorities are the ones far-far away from other majority groups due to various reasons. A number of problems exist creating hindrance in the holistic development of minorities. These problems may range from discrimination faced by them to their forced conversions, such incidents are prominent in recent times. A common prevalent problem of poverty and the consequent feeling of alienation has also developed among the minorities. Summing up all these issues and analysing them thoroughly one can come to a conclusion that minorities especially the linguistic ones are subject to severe exploitation and harassment by other groups or even sometimes by the State.


The cases of Human rights violations against Indian social and religious minorities have been on ascendence since some past 10-20 years. The US commission on international religious freedom(USCIRF) noted in a report that "religious freedom violations" have increased and the "religious tolerance" has decreased in India. The religious motivated killings, assaults, riots, coercive conversions too have grabbed the spurt in India.


The statistics have shown that more than 45000 crimes have been committed against the scheduled castes and almost 11000 against the scheduled tribes. In Fact the cases of torture, illegal detention and extra-judicial killings have also come into limelight from all over the nation.


Now the thousands of causes can be quoted which led to exploitation of minorities.

"religious groups intolerance" is one of the factors responsible for widespread hatred among and against the minority groups. This evil element prevalent in today's global society is a boon to warmongers and peace haters. This constant resistance of not accepting the minorities as a part of their society by the majority groups is really saddening and one logical reason for this could be assumed is the psychological differences among them.


The under or non-representation of minorities at authoritative positions like bureaucracy is also a cause for their vulnerability. Well the absolute reason for their under representation at national/global platforms is the lack of education or one could say lack in execution of education policies legislated for them. The deep-rooted practice of caste system in Indian society is surely the one to be blamed for today's deteriorating conditions of minorities.


Minorities are the directly targeted categories of this system. The practice of the caste system even in this 21st century where democracies are far more innovative and have achieved a benchmark in social education and other genres, is a shameful conduct against humanity. Apparently, the absolute evil of untouchability, a by-product which comes handy with the caste system, is a black spot on the face of a democratic nation whose constitution clearly abolishes the practice of untouchability under Art.17(abolition of untouchability) but it is still being in practice today in the country.


Due to the embedded nature of untouchability in Indian subcontinent the minority groups especially scheduled tribes(STs) and scheduled castes(SCs) have suffered a lot. The acute shortage of money or we can say the poverty stricken backgrounds of minorities is also a hurdle and cause for their abuse and ill treatment. "coins make sound but currency notes does not" what if someone does not have any of them? Same is the condition of minorities: they don't have any voice or say in any political, social, cultural matters and all this is because of the lack of money power. Minorities are the sections having the weakest economic spine in the society hence their rights need to be protected for sure.


The other reasons could be the absolute inter-religious resistance by majority groups in conjugal & psychological matters and the race to maintain the purity of blood by not accepting any relationship out of the periphery of their caste and religion is one such reason over which all this brouhaha of intolerance against minorities exists.


PROVIDING RELIEF & PROTECTION TO MINORITIES IN INDIA

The Indian Constitution extensively provides protection to the rights of minorities. The constitution makers were concerned about the well being of minorities existing in India and hence they created several provisions in the constitution and conferred some fundamental rights in order to protect the interest of minorities.


Art.25(right to freedom of religion)

This article provides every person's right to freedom of conscience and right to freely profess, practice and propagate the religion. This article allows a person that he/she can propagate his/her religious views for the edification of others and it is immaterial whether the propagation is made by person in individual capacity.


Art.26(freedom to manage religious affairs)

This article grants the right to every religious denomination of any section to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes; subject to public order, morality and health.

Cultural and Educational rights


Art.29(protection of interest of minorities)

It states any citizen living within territory of India having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same. In addition to it no one shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the state.


Art.30(right of minorities to establish and administer educational institution)

All minorities shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

As well as state shall not deny or discriminate in granting aid to any minority educational institution on the grounds of religion and language.


The Indian Constitution is a treasure where minorities can find various articles and provisions that safeguards their rights and privileges. The constitution of India is a quintessential of accommodating and adjusting various claims of people belonging to well-rounded cultures and identities. There are numerous ways mentioned in our constitution through which the rights of minorities can be defended; these include the standpoints enshrined in the 'Preamble', the 'Fundamental Rights' and 'Directive principles of state policies' and various other articles of the constitution. This way it is crystal clear that our constitution has showered us with the immunity to protect and conserve the right of various minority groups in India.


STEPS TO BE TAKEN

There is an urgent need to devise a mechanism by the government in order to prosecute anyone a layman or police officer who has fraudulently framed innocent people in different cases and must provide compensation and rehabilitation to the victims of such fraudulent criminal cases. The law enforcement and security agencies also must be provided with extensive training on human rights and religious freedom standards and practices.


The government needs to frame more policies in compliance with the UN declarations on the rights of persons belonging to national, ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities. The safeguard of NGOs and Human Rights defenders is also needed to be ensured so that they can help the victims with a free hand and open heart. There is an urgent need to amend and repeal the ambiguous and vague provisions in the legal system which are the reason for arbitrary misuse and abuse of law. Many private Vigilante groups working for cow protection, love Jihad and other issues need to be Ban because a private entity is not entitled to regulate and execute the law in India it is the rule of law which governs us.


Setting up of a framework for the prosecution of officials with various law enforcement agencies and armed forces for human rights abuses and denying such officials any kind of wage increase and service perks till he or she is proved guilty or acquitted by Court. The day the minorities will feel free and protected within the territory of India that day one can claim that India is sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic and republic in a true way.




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