ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Comments on Judicial Pronouncements

Minorities at the Crossroads

The Constitution confers a fundamental right on India's minorities, giving them the freedom to conserve their religion, language, script and culture, and to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. Courts, including the Supreme Court, in India showed a special solicitude for the minorities till the 1990s, but this has been watered down in recent years. At the same time, the National Commission for Minorities shows few signs of actively protecting the rights of the minorities.

The elections in April-May 2014 have put a strong majoritarian government in power at the centre. While I welcome a single-party majority government, I also fear it. I fear it because of past experience with majoritarian governments in the 1960s and 1970s. The Congress government unjustifiably imposed an internal Emergency in June 1975 and rode roughshod over the liberties of citizens.

Traditionally, Hinduism has been the most tolerant of all Indian faiths. But recurrent instances of religious tension fanned by fanaticism and hate speech have shown that the Hindu tradition of tolerance is showing signs of strain. Frankly – my apprehension is that Hinduism is somehow changing its benign face because it is believed and proudly proclaimed by a few (and not contradicted by those at the top) that it is their faith and belief that has put “Hindus” in the driving seat of governance.

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