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Can someone define ‘minority’ please?

May 31st, 2011

What do you mean when you say ‘minority community’? On the face of it the answer to this question is pretty simple- community which is lesser in numbers compared to others. Fair enough. It is for this reason that Sikhs, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Zoroastrians have been given this status by our govt (You can check out this list as given on the website of Minority Affairs Ministry here). While this list may have some justification if you take it for the nation as a whole but it does not stand to logic when considered with regard to communal violence, something which the draft PREVENTION OF COMMUNAL AND TARGETED VIOLENCE (ACCESS TO JUSTICE AND REPARATIONS) BILL, 2011” (PCTVB) seeks to address but has the potential to achieve the exact opposite instead.

The draft bill, in no uncertain terms, has laid down the criteria for protection of these minority communities in the event of any violence against them. While there is no doubt that there should not be any violence against them but is it wrong to say that there should not be any violence against the majority community either? But guess what? The law does not remain the same when the roles are reversed, ie when a group of people from minority community attack someone from a majority community the rules change completely. And this is just one major flaw. There are many others too like what happens when members of two different minority communities clash with each other? For example, a Shia-Sunni clash or what happens if Muslims clash with Christians or Sikhs or any other minority community? The law does not amplify this. And if that be so, by default you can make out that this bill is intended to target Hindus and Hindus only. Incidentally, the law is also mum about clashes between two different castes within the Hindu majority.

When you talk of communal violence, the term ‘minority’ should be relevant to that particular situation. If Muslims were a minority in Gujarat riots then Hindus were a minority in Godhra carnage. If riots in Gujarat were wrong (and they were) then so was the burning of train at Godhra. How can you distinguish between the perpetrators of the two? Similarly, in Bombay riots of 1992/3 if 575 Muslims were killed 275 Hindus also lost their lives. If killing of 575 Muslims was wrong (and it was) so was the killing of 275 Hindus, who were quite likely killed when they were outnumbered by groups of Muslims. How can the criminals involved in same riot cases committing similar crimes be treated differently, just because they belong to different communities? Can anyone justify this? I cannot. Maybe the Congress can.

Like I said earlier, in cases of communal violence ‘minority’ is a relative term. It’s implication should change from place A to B and situation to situation. For example, in case of a clash between Christians and Hindus in states like Meghalaya, Nagaland or Mizoram where Christians are much larger in numbers it’d be ridiculous to still consider them a minority in such a scenario. I mean, what relation does it have to the fact that Christians are otherwise a minority in the country? Similar is the case of Sikhs in Punjab and Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir (where this bill will still need the sanction of J&K assembly). As you guys would appreciate, there are thousands of such localities and mohallas across the country where Hindus living there are in a minority. Is it so difficult to fathom that in such cases it is the Hindus who need to be protected? Or is it that the govt does not want to protect Hindus?

Even in a particular state, this argument of ‘minority’ does not hold much water. In a state like Kerala which has 26% Muslims and 19% Christians it’ll be crazy to imagine that 56% of Hindu majority would gang up on others to perpetrate killings. What to talk of killings, if anything, it was the Christians and Muslims who’ve unitedly given the UDF a majority in recent assembly elections in the state whereas it was the Hindu vote which was divided. Yes, these killings did happen in Gujarat but the circumstances which led to them were quite different. Moreover, it is not 2002 anymore.

Though the issue of giving reservations to minorities in education and jobs may still be justified to some extent I really cannot see why they need to be given special treatment in criminal cases, be it by them or against them. A crime is a crime. Why should the victim’s or for that matter, the criminal’s religion have any bearing on the process of law or the amount of punishment to be meted out? If religion is the rallying point for the state to dish out punishment to perpetrators then how different is it from the motive behind the crimes committed by these very perpetrators. By extension therefore, in such a scenario how different will the state itself be from those criminals who kill in the name of religion? Wouldn’t we as a secular nation flout the basic criteria of any secular civil society or is it that we’re now becoming nonsecular though in the opposite sense?

If the govt still wants to argue that there is no assurance that people of one community will not gang up to attack people from other communities, they can address this issue by bringing about a bill which deals with ‘organized and premeditated attack by a group/person on another group/person’, in which the motive of the attack is clearly established as being ‘religious differences’. Such a bill would take care of citizens belonging to all religions, minority as well as majority.

If our forefathers, while drafting our constitution, did not define the term minority in it they were not fools. They deliberately left it vague for the scars of partition to heal and to enable us to learn to live together peacefully. The leaders of the then Congress party knew very well that concept of minority and majority communities should not be argued beyond a point. But this is not 1950. The Congress of today is not what it was either.

At that time, Congress did not have any major political challengers. Today there are far too many, both at the state as well as national level. Today, Congress feels that just by reaching out to minorities only, they can retain power as, according to them, the Hindu vote would surely be divided. They don’t realize that such polarization can only further communal tensions. Or may be they do but care two hoots as long as they get to come back to power. In their wisdom, secularism implies bashing Hindus and Hinduism. And therefore, there is little doubt that the overall aim of this bill is to ban RSS, VHP and other such like organizations at the slightest opportunity.

At a time when there aren’t any major communal tension cases anywhere in the country and people are learning to live peacefully as witnessed after Ram Janambhoomi verdict by the Allahabad High Court, Congress’s bill is sure to re-polarize our society once again. What Congress does not realize is that if polarization is taken to it’s extremes, it’ll be detrimental to it’s own prospects. And by bringing this bill they may just be shooting themselves in their own foot.

Before I sign off for today, let me ask the minority affairs minister of India, Mr Salman Khursheed whether the welfare of Hindus in states where they are in minority is part of his charter or not? I’m quite sure it isn’t. But then, Hindus haven’t been really part of Congress’s charter for a long time now. I guess Hindus are fast becoming second rate citizens in their own country, their numbers be damned.

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22 Responses to “Can someone define ‘minority’ please?”

  1. 1
    R Vishwanath:

    Instead of Minorities Protection bill, the govt should
    legislate a bill on anti conversion activities of religious institutions trying to convert Hindus.

    Comment on this Comment

    Comments on : Instead of Minorities Protecti....

    Comment By : Col NR Kurup

    Very correctly brought out facts. But when the basic concept of the law makers are wrong how can we expect the laws made by them to have any sense ? How could they consider Hinduism is a religion ? Hinduism is not a religion but Nationalism. It has many religions. Vaishnava, Saiva, sikhs, Budhists etc., etc. Earlier all such religions used to get amalgamated with the basic Hindu Nationality whereas in the case of Muslims and Christians, they refuse to get merged or amalgamated with the Hindu Nationality which is the root cause of all the present problems of minority vs majority.

    Comment on this Comment

    Comments on : Instead of Minorities Protecti....

    Comment By : Adil

    Dude Adapting any Religion is a democratic right of people………..…………… Unless It comes with Incentive like incase of Christian Missionaries

    Comment on this Comment

    Comments on : Instead of Minorities Protecti....

    Comment By : Sush

    Good point but to expect this govt to do anything about it is pointless.

    Comment on this Comment
  2. 2

    It is all about politics. This one is a most ill concieved, ill timed an a bill which will only divide the nation further vertically.
    When we have unconstitutional body like NAC, all we could expect is a bill like this.
    But, time will tell as to how do the people react to this and how do the opposition parties react.

    Comment on this Comment
  3. 3

    In world @ large Hindus are minority. We live in global world & forces outside d country hv grt interest in mass of 1 bn ppl. Walmarts, vaticans & others like them want 2 capture market here.

    Comment on this Comment
  4. 4
    Happy Kitten:

    A law which makes no sense!

    but let the Congress shoot themselves on the foot if they dont want to change..

    Comment on this Comment
  5. 5
    Prashanth K.P:

    Well Sush, you have huffed and puffed you way through this highly sensitive and nerve wrecking blog, written by yourself but with high passion at certain demanding places and with rationale at certain other places. You have evoked the sensitivity of the subject wonderfully throughout your blog.

    Wiki has provided this definition for a minority - "A minority is a sociological group that does not make up a politically dominant voting majority of the total population of a given society. A sociological minority is not necessarily a numerical minority — it may include any group that is subnormal with respect to a dominant group in terms of social status, education, employment, wealth and political power".

    By this definition, there is no numeric predominance emphasized in a general context. Hence, it was prudently omitted from our constitution until of course as you pointed, vote bank politics came into significance. This increasing dependency on vote bank politics necessitated a clinically precise paraphrasing of the word....and the then political, rather CON think tanks thought it prudent to adorn this on the Muslim community wholesomely. Thus, spell of polarized doom for Indian Politics and Religious co-habitation began and over the years has decomposed and putrefacted into the society poisonously to a point of no return.

    It is at such a juncture that CON is attempting to bring in the Communal Violence Bill favoring everything that is Minority. There is no representation or protection for the Majority Community in its current format. On the contrary, it has everything in it to destroy the fabric and culture of Majority community by way of draconian laws inculcated into it.

    Yes, it is pro-minority, anti-majority and totally rigorous towards groups, affiliations, rape, hate propaganda, organized violence so on and so forth which you have so well described above. Additionally, it conspicuously omits from its precincts J&K which is implicitly provided with a blanket protection under Article 370 of the Constitution of India. Herein lies the major divide in the CVB’s intent and its political duplicity become apparent because of this duality. I would also wonder as to what happens to the Indian Penal Codes and Criminal Procedure Codes and the Communal Violence Bill invoked in 2005.

    This CVB has to be objected, prevented, obstructed and terminated in its entirety.

    Once again, I must appreciate and admire your poignant narrative Sush!

    Comment on this Comment
  6. 6
    Monsoon reads for weekend by Indian Bloggers:

    [...] : Sushma Jaitly What : Can someone define ‘minority’ please? Spicy : How can the criminals involved in same riot cases committing similar crimes be treated [...]

    Comment on this Comment
  7. 7
    Saurabh V:

    Govt. is interested in vote politics and to invoke public nuisance and embroilment. They are interested in more and more people getting involved in litigations so that there is more flow of money (as described below):

    First to file an FIR you need to pay money to the police. Then for proper investigation you need to pay money OR to stop investigation you need to pay money. Then you pay money to advocates of both sides and so on. Finally a settlement amount after an agony of 4-5 years and generally more.

    This Govt. is more interested to uproot the trust of the citizen on each other than to build it.


    Comment on this Comment
  8. 8

    The bill has in reality just two purposes it can serve, since it is an NAC creation and not (yet) a GOM or Cabinet draft:

    1. Placate minority vote banks and enhance communal politics.

    2. USE the heat to enhance the tyranny and control of the bureaucracy by top ministers through removing selectively the protection under Art 311. This is another step towards centralisation rather than decentralisation - even of Law & Order which is a State subject.

    Comment on this Comment
  9. 9

    According to me a Government should get a Bill to Punish the Chief Ministers in case the Communal Violence In a state also They should Ban that person to contest elections or taking part in any Political & Social Movement if they don’t take Unbiased action against rioters Irrespective of Religion/Minority/Majority………….The Investigation agency for such Cases should work Directly Under Supreme Court ……….. for me Biggest terrorist is Mr Narendra Modi he literally Killed so many Muslims intentionally & Planned………..Shame on India He is still free///// Shame on BJP to have such personality as CM Irrespective of What Good work he has done……………Shame on People of Gujarat that they Again Elected Him………

    Mr Salmaan are you listening???

    Just FYI for others - Gujarat riots the Official Figure announced in parliament that 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed, 223 more people reported missing and another 2,500……… injured

    Sush Just a Question with no Offense are you a member of BJP/VHP/RSS……………

    Comment on this Comment

    Comments on : According to me a Government s....

    Comment By : Sush

    Adil, no offense taken. No, I'm not a member of any organisation. Just a secular proud Hindu. That's it. While I'm proud to be a Hindu I respect every religion. I also believe that religion is more often than not used to spread hatred instead of love which goes against basic tenets of every religion.
    I hope I've cleared any doubts that you may have had.

    Comment on this Comment

    Another Comment on : Adil, no offense taken. No, I'....

    Comment By : Adil

    Sush Thank you......... Since you are Secular Don’t you think Government should do something to enhance the Security & Income of Muslims because Many surveys has confirmed they are poorest in country……

    No matter what you say Including both the Riots of Gujarat & Mumbai………The loss of Muslims were Highest…

    Gujarat 790 Muslims Died as Compare to 254 Hindus & Mumbai An estimated 275 Hindus & 575 Muslims………

    They are been Killed in Riots, Poorest, Uneducated, No Government Jobs & Put behind bars on the Charges of Terrorism……..Then they set them free after 5 Years saying no evidence found there are countless cases like that where they Ruin the Life of Muslim youth…….

    If one Muslim Lawyer like Mr. Shahid Azmi is Fighting the case of poor Guys……………But this Government or Extremist Hindu’s don’t Understand Muslims are part of this country they Deserve some act of kindness …………..Your View Pls………

    Note: I am not saying Hindus should not get special treatment….They should why not what’s wrong

    You cannot comment on this comment
  10. 10

    Some corrections sorry

    If one Muslim Lawyer like Mr. Shahid Azmi is Fighting the cases of Innocent people they shot dead him very sad

    Comment on this Comment
  11. 11

    I am minority bcos the largest party of India wants me to be a minority vote bank . So what I am larger than Pakistan and most other minority religion countries

    jain , sikhs, jews are NOT minority ....

    Comment on this Comment
  12. 12
    Prateek Mishra:

    Also, somebody please define secular!

    Comment on this Comment
  13. 13

    In 1932, British have defined and identified 'minority' communities in India viz Muslims,Christians,Anglo-Indians,Sikhs,SC and ST

    Comment on this Comment
  14. 14

    @Adil Just a Question with no Offense are you a member of SIMI, Jesh Mohamad, Al-queada, IM or any Paki militant group?

    It's a shame on 'MINORITIES'. 80% trouble in the world is being caused by so called 'MINORITIES'. Be it India itself, Manchester, London, Newyork, or any Middle East countries. First control your population & then learn how to speak? Stop speaking via dots . & slashes /.

    United Kingdom

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    You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that such large outpourings of support for Anna Hazare is basically a demand for a phone number, viz 101, which they can call up to register their complaint against neighborhood pandu havaldaar or the municipality clerk who ask for money to do their legitimate jobs. They want a number which is accessible to each and every one so that action is taken against offenders based on their complaint. Though everyone has heard of 2G scam, CWG scam, Adarsh scam etc etc (list is too long for this write up), yet they do not really associate much with it because most of these scams talk about astronomical amounts of money which they cannot relate with. They may have heard of 1.76 lakh crores which was lost in 2G scam but they relate more to that thousand bucks which goes out of their own pockets to corrupt babus and policemen. And if Congress cannot see this basic simple all pervasive demand all I can say is that they're downright stupid and naive. .....

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