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Michel Danino on the "Bogeyman of Majority in India"

on 2018/4/3 11:24:31 ( 1189 reads )


INDIA, April 2, 2018 (New Indian Express, by Michel Danino): In a previous article (The Great Secular Confusion, March 19), I challenged the secular definition of the Indian nation: there is, in fact, no such definition, nor are the nation's institutions and Constitution genuinely secular, since they discriminate among the followers of different religions. At the core of the issue lies a binary that has been accepted as a political axiom, though occasionally challenged as we will see: that of majority vs. minority, inherited from the colonial era and enshrined in Articles 28 and 29 of our Constitution. On the face of it, minorities appear to be identifiable enough: no one doubts the existence of a Parsi or Jewish minority. Christians claim to be a minority, too--but are they? Whether such an economically and culturally dominant group qualifies as a minority, with the attached tag of vulnerability, is problematic. Equally ambiguous is the concept of a Muslim minority of about 195 millions (extrapolating from the 2011 Census), nearly three times the population of UK.

But the concept of majority is even more problematic, as the word suggests a monolithic Hindu population, primarily identifying itself as Hindu. This is contrary to India's ground situation, where an assumed Hinduness is just one strand of a complex identity, others strands being community, language and region. In a secular state, there is no such thing as minority. I have got the same rights, status and obligations as anybody else. I wish those who consider themselves as the majority community would forget that there is any minority today in this country." Damodar Swarup Seth, a member from United Province, concurred, "I feel, Sir, that in a secular state minorities based on religion or community should not be recognised. If they are given recognition then I submit that we cannot claim that ours is a secular state. Recognition of minorities based on religion or community is the very negation of secularism."

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