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India, a mature democracy: Treats minorities with respect, dignity

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Is India a better place for Muslims to live has become a frequently asked question that needs answers in the present context and the position acquired by India in the global political realm. India is an emerging world power in the Indian Ocean region with technological advancements and strategic political interests.The inexorable rise of India to the helm nags China out of its wits.

India is keen to see its second-largest population of Muslims actively subscribe to alleviate the nation of ethnic tensions.It is a fact that India has a secular constitution. Thus it cannot alienate any individual on religious denominations or any other ground, a fundamental right upheld by the Indian supreme law. The Indian identity that rises above all differences serves right for the subcontinent to forge ahead as one of the largest democracies and be in good stead.

The Constitution envisions ‘minority’ as an open category to safeguard the rights of numerous religious, linguistic and cultural groups that signify distinct characteristics. However, the identity crisis is bound to be a phenomenon that occurs quite often in any developed society that clearly, epitomises whenever that society achieves targets in scientific and technological advancement and economic progress.

The possible solution to this crisis at different times will therefore have to be part of the scheme of economic, social and political development of a given society, according to Indian scholars. Immediately after taking charge of the ministry of minority affairs in 2014, in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Najma Heptulla made a powerful comment on the minority status of Muslims.

She declared that Muslims are not minorities, “This is not the ministry for Muslim affairs, this is the ministry of Minority affairs …Heptulla’s assertion is valid, says Hilal Ahmed in an article written for The Print some years back (2018).

The contention is that the Constitution does not define the term minority. The distinctiveness of a numerically inferior group is certainly recognized as a legal criterion to determine the minority status of any community. But the term distinctiveness is not delineated in the way we now understand – the framework of ‘Hindu majority versus Muslim minority’.

The Constitution conceives ‘minority’ as an open category to protect the interests of various religious, linguistic and culturally distinctive groups. Hence, there is no possibility to think, of Muslims as a permanent minority in the constitutional schema.

Examining historical evidence on the origin of the Muslims in the Indian region would give a better understanding of Indian politics, especially the Muslim factor is of significant importance since it constitutes 14 per cent of the entire population. The world history records that the Mughal Empire ruled most parts of India and Pakistan with their advent to this region in the 16th and 17thcenturies.

In India, the initial spread of Islam in the hinterlands of India dates back to the 7thcentury as the Arabs conquered Sindh and gradually moved to the Northern Territory of India in the 12thcentury. Since then, Islam has become part and parcel of Indian cultural and religious heritage. As it stands, the Muslim population in India is approximately 172 million.Islam is the second-largest religion in India. Percentage-wise it is around14.2 per cent of the total population. The population census held in India ten years ago confirms this.

Second-largest country where Muslims live

India is also the second-largest country in the world where Muslims live. Sunnis make the Muslim majority in India, with Shia making up 13% of the entire Muslim population. At least ten per cent of the global population of Muslims had made India their comfortable home.

There could be skirmishes with the majority population on ideology-based issues, a time-tested global phenomenon. Nevertheless, the Muslims seem very comfortable and excel in every field, including music and the Indian film industry.

The Indian judiciary has recorded remarkable achievements when passing judgments on various ethnic and religious groups and seems well versed with particular personal laws that give an added advantage in dispensing justice to the people.Journal of the Indian Law Institute, in a review states, thus

Independent India has seen several judges who have left an indelible mark on the sands of time. One such judge is V.R KrishanIyer, he not only delivered justice as per traditional norms but also tried to achieve social justice in a welfare state. His judicial acumen not only solved the problems of the common man but also compelled the executive and the legislature to come out of their stupor accordingly, many executive measures and legislative measures were taken for the welfare of the underprivileged.

V.R. Krishna Iyer was one of those judges of India who not only read Muslim law but understood it in its appropriate form and accordingly conceptualized and interpreted it. He admitted the distortions made by the British judges in their interpretation of the Muslim law because they were unable to understand the culture and social background in which Muslim law was promulgated.

In his opinion, when Manu and Mohammad of India and Arabia would be interpreted by the British judges, marginal distortions were bound to creep in. The same is true for many Indian judges when they interpret Muslim law. This paper is a tribute to Krishna Iyer J, in the form of an analysis of his various judgments, which show his in-depth knowledge and foresight about Muslim law in India. He is no more with us but his judgments continue to enlighten the scholars of Muslim law throughout the world and particularly in India.

The Indian Army is one of the only public bodies in India that has not been skewed by politics or religion, which is partly to thank for the strong reputation it commands today. Recruitment should remain based on merit only. Petty notions of religious inequality should not be allowed to tarnish the institution was the stand taken by the one million-strong Army of India. Then Chief of the Army Staff, Gen. J. J. Singh denied there was a headcount of actively enlisted Muslim soldiers, maintaining that would be a gross violation of the secular nature of the Army.

In 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh commissioned the Sachar Committee to prepare a report on the socioeconomic and educational situation of Indian Muslims. The idea was to iron out if there were any deliberate instances of discrimination.

All of this point to the fact that the Muslims in India, as the second-largest population, enjoy benefits. Fundamental rights and constitutional guarantees are similar to any developed society.

Social security measures spelt out by the government put India in good stead as a country that looks after minorities. Hence India is undoubtedly, a better place for Muslims to live. (Indian Media)



Friday, June 17, 2022 – 01:00

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