Minority Rights Day 2021: cornerstones of democracy are inclusion, equality and minority rights


If India is serious about finding a prominent place in the world community, it must isolate its minorities. We must instill in our people a sense of duty and concern for our minorities.

By Narender Hooda

Minority Rights Day 2021: A company is judged on how it treats its weaker sections. If India is serious about finding a prominent place in the world community, it must isolate its minorities. We must instill in our people a sense of duty and concern for our minorities. Justice and equality, respect for the privacy and dignity of our fellow human beings, in particular minorities, is a sine qua non of a secular society as we claim. Sadly, the rise of hate speech, incidents of mob lynching, the spread of false information via social media and false historical narratives, which spark anti-minority sentiments, have become the order of the day. Political parties are resorting to religious polarization as the cheapest trick to win elections without realizing the colossal cost to us as a nation.

NRC-CAA, anti-conversion laws as a check on the so-called jihad of love, cow protection laws in various states, forcing butcher shops to close during Hindu festivities and now the latest protests in Gurugram against reading namaaz in designated open spaces reflect anti-minority psyche.

India is one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world, made up of a majority of Hindus and its minorities are Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Zoroastrians. Minority conflicts revolve around identity. People who feel attacked because of their religious or ethnic identity provoke an aggressive reaction because they think their place in society is under attack and feel alienated in their own country. To assert their rights, these communities end up being too defensive, which reduces their chances of being integrated into the majority society. The loss our society suffers from this alienation is immeasurable.

Even after more than seven decades of independence, the majority-minority is the main topic of debate in prime-time news channels. Democracy is rule by the majority. However, the government of a majority community is contrary to the basic principles of democracy itself. The cornerstones of democracy are inclusion, equality and minority rights among others. The Preamble to our Constitution defines India as a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic. Secularism is a basic structure of the Constitution, which essentially means that its secular character cannot be diluted, even by Parliament, as the Supreme Court ruled in SR Bommai Vs UOI.

To guarantee the rights of minority communities, Dr Ambedkar proposed a non-parliamentary executive with the Prime Minister elected by the entire House and representatives of the different communities in the Cabinet to be elected by the members of these minority communities in the within the legislature by a single transferable vote.

During the constituent assembly debates, Dr Ambedkar underlined that in elections to parliament or legislative assemblies, candidates from the majority community must obtain a minimum number of votes from the minority community to be declared elected. However, none of Dr Ambedkar’s aforementioned proposals were ultimately accepted due to lack of support.

The prevailing communal atmosphere proves that the fear of the architect of our Constitution was not without foundation. Community polarization in elections has grown in recent years at an alarming rate. Politicians are quick to resort to communal innuendo to trigger community polarization in elections. This underhanded trend must be curbed. The integration of minorities into the mainstream is essential for national unity.

The author is Sr. Advocate practicing at the Supreme Court. The opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.

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