Minority Protection and India [UPSC Notes for GS I]

This article will describe in detail the issues concerning minority groups in India.

These UPSC Notes on minority protection and India are aligned with the UPSC Syllabus and aspirants should prepare this topic for General Studies Paper I.

Minority’s condition and the politics of it are often seen in the news today, and hence its relevance for the UPSC Mains.

IAS Exam aspirants can find more notes for UPSC Mains General Studies topics from the links given at the end of the article.

Minority Protection and India

Context

  • Recent political developments have put the issues of minority appeasements and minority harassment back into the forefront. 
  • The recent increase in hate crimes has also triggered debates about the need for separate legislation to protect minorities against lynching and hate crimes. 

Background

  • Article 1 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” 
  • Across the globe, the anti-immigrant/ anti-minority sentiments are on the rise.
  • The shooter responsible for the massacre at “El Paso” claimed to have been troubled by minorities gaining more power after alleged unregulated immigration. 
  • Europe has also witnessed a few anti-minority hate crimes. A same-sex couple was attacked in London recently while they were travelling on the bus. Brexit campaign in the UK also had strong anti-immigration messages. 
  • The rising civil unrest and conflicts in many parts of the world are causing a rise in refugees. Climate change has also forced a large section of the population to seek shelter in other countries. 
  • But when such refugees reach relatively safe countries they are targeted for their religion, race, ethnicity etc. 

To read about the National Commission for Minorities, a statutory body working for the development of recognised minorities in India, aspirants can visit the linked article.

Indian context

  • Even though the term minority has been used in our constitution, the constitution has not attempted to define it.
  • The National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 in Section 2(c) of the act defines a minority as “a community notified as such by the Central government”. In India, this applies to Muslim, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhist and Parsis (Zoroastrian), Jain religions. 
  • As per TMA Pai Foundation vs. State of Karnataka case in the Supreme Court, a minority either linguistic or religious is determinable only by reference to the demography of the State and not by taking into consideration the population of the country as a whole. 
  • When we discuss the term minorities we should not limit ourselves to religious minorities. Linguistic minorities, transgender etc are also considered minorities in the larger socio-political framework. 
  • Simple numerical majority-minority constructs fail to include regional (like non-dominant tribe groups in the North East), linguistic (Bengali speakers in erstwhile East Pakistan) and other “pattern of life follower” (ethnic) minorities. 
  • People holding responsible political positions also have been repeatedly caught using fake or questionable sources to make false claims. 
  • This atmosphere has been further vitiated by  TV debates supposedly designed to cause shock and outrage.

Aspirants can refer the UPSC Mains Syllabus at the linked article.

Given below are a few links for UPSC preparation:

Points of Discussion

  • In order to protect our constitutional values of individual dignity, Equality and liberty we must strive to discourage and remove hate-filled messages from our society.
  • Political leadership must take a leadership role in disowning hateful elements within their party and uphold their commitment to our constitution. 
  • Comprehensive anti-hate legislation and policy must be brought to act as a deterrent against hate crimes. 
  • Recent positive developments like decriminalisation of homosexuality have shown that our society is empathetic towards minorities. A few anti-social elements must not be allowed to jeopardise gains made in this regard.

Constitutional Provisions for Minorities in India

The Constitution of Indi lists down a few important mandates with regard to Minorities in India. Discussed below are the same in brief:

  • Article 15 (1) & (2) – Prohibition of discrimination against citizens on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth
  • Article 16(1)&(2) – Citizens’ right to equality of opportunity in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State
  • Article 25(1) – People’s freedom of conscience and right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion – subject to public order, morality and other Fundamental Rights
  • Article 28 – People’s freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in educational institutions wholly maintained
  • Article 30(1) – Right of all religious and linguistic minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice
  • Article30(2) – Freedom of minority-managed educational institutions from discrimination in the matter of receiving aid from the State

Minority Protection: UPSC Notes – Download PDF Here

Frequently Asked Questions about Minorities Protection in India

Which article of the Constitution gurantees the protection of minorities in India?

Article 29 protects the interests of the minorities by making a provision that any citizen / section of citizens having a distinct language, script or culture have the right to conserve the same. Article 29 mandates that no discrimination would be done on the ground of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.

Why is majority rule and minority rights important?

Majority rule with respect to minority rights is vital to a democratic government. This process allows for citizens to maintain individual rights while following the direction of the majority. It also allows for the citizens to make changes to the laws as society, the majorities, and the minorities change.

Aspirants can check BYJU’S UPSC Notes page for free GS1, GS2, and GS 3 notes.

Related Links:

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