From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Religious and linguistic minorities
Mains level : Not Much
The minority status of religious and linguistic communities is “State-dependent”, said the Supreme Court.
What did the Supreme Court say?
- Every person in India can be a minority in one State or the other.
- One can be a minority outside his/her State.
- Similarly, a Kannada-speaking person may be in minority in States other than Karnataka.
What was the petition about?
- The court was hearing a petition complaining that followers of Judaism, Bahaism and Hinduism are the real minorities in Ladakh, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Kashmir, Punjab and the North-East States.
- However, they cannot establish and administer educational institutions of their choice because of the non-identification of ‘minority’ at the State level.
- Religious communities such as Hindus here are socially, economically, politically non-dominant and numerically inferior in several States.
Various states on Minorities
- The Centre gave the example of how Maharashtra notified ‘Jews’ as a minority community within the State.
- Again, Karnataka notified Urdu, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Tulu, Lambadi, Hindi, Konkani and Gujarati as minority languages within the State.
Who are the Minorities?
- Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jain and Zoroastrians (Parsis) have been notified as minority communities under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
- As per the Census 2011, the percentage of minorities in the country is about 19.3% of the total population of the country.
- The population of Muslims are 14.2%; Christians 2.3%; Sikhs 1.7%, Buddhists 0.7%, Jain 0.4% and Parsis 0.006%.
- Minority Concentration Districts (MCD), Minority Concentration Blocks and Minority Concentration Towns, have been identified on the basis of both population data and backwardness parameters of Census 2001 of these areas.
- The Constitution recognizes Religious minorities in India and Linguistic minorities in India through Article 29 and Article 30.
- But Minority is not defined in the Constitution.
- Currently, the Linguistic minorities in India are identified on a state-wise basis thus determined by the state government whereas Religious minorities in India are determined by the Central Government.
- The Parliament has the legislative powers and the Centre has the executive competence to notify a community as a minority under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act of 1992.
Article 29: It provides that any section of the citizens residing in any part of India having a distinct language, script, or culture of its own, shall have the rights of minorities in India to conserve the same. Article 29 is applied to both minorities (religious minorities in India and Linguistic minorities in India) and also the majority. It also includes – rights of minorities in India to agitate for the protection of language.
Article 30: All minorities shall have the rights of minorities in India to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. Article 30 recognizes only Religious minorities in India and Linguistic minorities in India (not the majority). It includes the rights of minorities in India to impart education to their children in their own language.
Article 350-B: Originally, the Constitution of India did not make any provision with respect to the Special Officer for Linguistic minorities in India. However, the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1956 inserted Article 350-B in the Constitution. It provides for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities appointed by the President of India. It would be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under the Constitution.
Try this PYQ:
Which one of the following categories of Fundamental Rights incorporates protection against untouchability as a form of discrimination?
(a) Right against Exploitation
(b) Right to Freedom
(c) Right to Constitutional Remedies
(d) Right to Equality
Post your answers here.