By Narinder Hooda, Minority Rights Day 2021: A society is judged by how it treats its weakest sections. If India seriously aspires to find a proud place in the global community, it must isolate its minorities. We need to instill in our people a sense of duty and care for our minorities. Justice and Equality , […]

By Narinder Hoda

Minority Rights Day 2021: A community is judged by how it treats its weakest sections. If India seriously aspires to find a proud place in the global community, it must isolate its minorities. We need to instill in our people a sense of duty and care for our minorities. Justice and equality, respect for the privacy and dignity of our fellow human beings, especially minorities, is an indispensable condition of a secular society as we claim ourselves. Unfortunately, increased hate speech, random killings, disinformation spread through social media, and false historical accounts, spurring anti-minority sentiment, are prevalent today. Political parties resort to religious polarization as the cheapest ploy for electoral victory without realizing the high cost to us as a nation.

NRC-CAA, anti-diversion laws in the garb of checking so-called love jihad, cow protection laws in various states, forcing meat shops to close during Hindu ceremonies and now recent protests in Gurugram against reading namaaz in designated open spaces reflect anti-minority psychics.

India is one of the most religiously diverse countries globally, consisting of a Hindu majority and its minorities being Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Zoroastrians. Minority struggles revolve around identity. People who feel attacked because of their religious or ethnic identity provoke an aggressive reaction because they believe their place in society is under attack and feel alienated in their own country. To assert their rights, these societies end up being very defensive, reducing their chances of assimilation into the mainstream. The loss suffered by our society as a result of this alienation is immeasurable.

Even after more than seven decades of independence, the majority minority is the main subject of prime-time discussions on news channels. Democracy is the rule of the majority. However, the rule of a majority society goes against the basic principles of democracy itself. The cornerstone of democracy is inclusivity, equality and the rights of minorities along with others. The preamble to our Constitution defines India as a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic. Secularism is a basic structure of the constitution which basically means that its secular character cannot be eroded even by Parliament as upheld by the Supreme Court in SR Bommai Vs UOI.

To secure the rights of minority communities, Dr. Ambedkar put forward a non-parliamentary executive body with the prime minister to be elected by the entire assembly and representatives of the various communities in the cabinet to be elected by the members of these minority communities in the legislature by a single transferable vote.

During the Constituent Assembly debates, Dr Ambedkar emphasized that in elections to Parliament or Legislatures, candidates from the majority community must secure minimum votes from the minority community in order to be declared elected. However, none of Dr. Ambedkar’s aforementioned proposals were accepted for lack of required support.

The prevailing societal atmosphere proves that the fear of the architect of our constitution was not without foundation. Sectarian polarization in elections has gained momentum over the past few years at an alarming rate. Politicians do not hesitate to resort to sectarian undertones to foment sectarian polarization in elections. This twisted trend must be curbed. The integration of minorities into the mainstream is indispensable for national unity.

The writer is a senior attorney working on the Supreme Court. The opinions expressed are subjective and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.

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