By Moorthy Muthuswamy
India inherited its democratic system from the departing British in 1947 who ruled over it for several hundred years. It is far from clear that India had a mature and able class of indigenous people who could have formulated a robust and Consistent Constitution.
It now appears that Article 30 of the Indian Constitution not only violates the secular character of India, but also promotes religious discrimination of majority and may be in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights-Adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of December 10, 1948.
Article 30 of the Indian Constitution has certain provisions whereby minorities are exempted (are allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion, unlike majority) from certain requirements in running their own institutions. By and large, Hindus are not considered in minority (even in areas where they are in minority such as Jammu and Kashmir) but Christians and Muslims definitely are. For instance, according to Article 30, minority community may reserve up to 50 per cent of the seats for the members of its own community in an educational institution established and administered by it even if the institution is getting aid from the State.
Christian and Muslim controlled educational institutions in India, encouraged by Article 30 of the Indian Constitution, are discriminating in favour of their religious compatriots in employment and in student admissions (Religious apartheid in India and American policy response).
But the Christians and the Muslims are not disadvantaged community in India. Indian Christian community has among the highest literacy rate (53 per cent Hindu literacy rate vs. 81 per cent Christian literacy rate; literacy also implies wealth) and Indian Muslims already have a 25 per cent permanent reservation of land, wealth and opportunities called Pakistan/Bangladesh-almost emptied of Hindus due to massive ethnic cleansing and religious discrimination (and driven away to India). Christian community was favoured by British colonizers until sixty years ago.
Therefore, unlike America where blacks, discriminated for centuries, who are now given employment preferences in the form of affirmative action, there is little justification for minority reservations in India.
Religious minority-controlled institutions in India give preferential admission to students of their faith. That again is sanctioned by Article 30 of the Indian Constitution.
Indeed, Islamic Partitioning of India in 1947 has already made Hindus the disadvantaged community in India and these minority reservations for proselytizing religions such as Christianity or Islam create conditions of majority Hindu religious genocide – by making the majority poor by unfairly excluding them from employment and education.
This situation has already been created in Kerala where minorities have taken advantage of Article 30 to exclude majority Hindus from education and employment and driven them to poverty. This was pointed by Prof. Issac. The jihadi movement in Kashmir is strengthened by reservations in favour of Muslims.
According to Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: ?Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment?. The already disadvantaged majority Hindus are being unfairly denied the right to work in religious minority-controlled institutions in India because of their religious affiliation, should also be considered in violation of the above Declaration.
Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says: ?Everyone has the right to education?technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be made equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.? Religious minority controlled institutions in India give preferential admission to students of their faith that again is sanctioned by Article 30 of the Indian Constitution. This again unfairly denies already disadvantaged majority Hindu students access to education on the basis of merit.
The recent assertion by the HRD minister, Arjun Singh defining Article 30 of the Indian Constitution as ?protecting minorities? is inappropriate. An appropriate interpretation of Article 30 is one of giving unfair preferences to Indian minorities but also of promoting majority apartheid and discrimination. Such an Indian state can arguably seen as an uncivilized one (through its violation of Universal Declaration of Human Rights), despite calling itself as a ?secular democracy?. A detailed analysis shows that through constitutional based religious discrimination of majority, the Indian state may be embarking on a collective suicide of itself and its majority population – unless Article 30 is amended to make it free of religious discrimination.
(The writer is an US-based nuclear physicist. He can be reached at [email protected])