Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Minorities

Any community that is less than 50% of the population is a minority. The basis can be religion, language, race or something else. Article 29 of the Constitution of India grants minorities the right to conserve their distinct language, script or culture. Article 30 grants religious and linguistic minorities the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
Minority can be at national level or state level. State includes union territories and National Capital Territory. At national level, as per guidelines of Ministry of Minority Affairs, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians are religious minorities. Zoroastrians may be Parsis or Iranis. Bahais, Jains, Jews, and people belonging to tribal religions should be recognized as minorities. About thirty years back members of Ramakrishna Mission had claimed they were a minority and had won their case in Calcutta High Court. There was an appeal against that verdict in Supreme Court. The status of that case is not known.
In India at national level no language is spoken by 50% or more people. Therefore all linguistic communities are minorities. At state level many languages are spoken by 50% or more people. Other linguistic communities are minorities.
In a state it is possible for all religious communities to be minorities. In six states Hindus are a minority. In a state if every religious community is less than 50% of the population all of them are minorities. A state may have 30% Hindus, 30% Muslims, 30% Christians, and 10% belonging to other religions. In that case all are minorities.
As per Article 25 regarding providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus, Hindus shall be construed as including persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhists religion.
Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Zoroastrians, and Jews have personal laws. Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains come under Hindu personal law. For legal purposes anyone who is not a Muslim, Christian, Zoroastrian or Jew is considered a Hindu. Article 44 states, The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India. That has not happened in 63 years and there is no sign of happening soon.

Updated: October 24, 2013 — 7:40 am

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