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Out of 110 nations, India tops the global minority index

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    3rd Dec, 2022

Context

A Patna-based research institute, the Centre for Policy Analysis (CPA) has put India on top of the ‘global minority index’ in its Global Minority Report tabulating 110 countries.

Key Findings of the Report:

  • India remains on top of the index, followed by South Korea, Japan, Panama, and the US.
  • Maldives, Afghanistan, and Somalia figured at the bottom of the list.
  • The UK is ranked 54, and the UAE 61.
  • The ranking approach has been mathematical and the grading of countries was done based on the approach of the State towards minority religions, and the extent of their inclusiveness.
  • This report only takes into account ‘macro parameters’ to analyse the status of religious minorities in a country, and the approach of a state towards them.
  • The parameters that have been taken into account to assess the status of religious minorities include;
  • Constitutional provisions,
  • Policies of a government, and
  • Broader indicators, such as the laws of the land.

Minority community in India:

  • In 1993, the first Statutory National Commission was set up and five religious communities Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians (Parsis) were notified as minority communities under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
  • In 2014, Jains were also notified as a minority community.
  • The population of Muslims is 14.2%; Christians 2.3%; Sikhs 1.7%, Buddhists 0.7%, Jain 0.4%, and Parsis 0.006%.
  • As per the Census 2011, the percentage of minorities in the country is about 3% of the total population of the country.

Defining properties of Minorities in India include;

Subordination in some way to the majority, Distinguishable from the majority based on physical or cultural features, collectively being regarded and treated as different and inferior and Excluded from full participation in the life of the society.

What does the Constitution say about minorities?

The expression “minorities” appears in some Articles of the Constitution but is not defined anywhere.

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 right to conserve the same.
  • It grants protection to both religious minorities as well as linguistic minorities.
  • However, the SC held that the scope of this article is not necessarily restricted to minorities only, as the use of the word ‘section of citizens in the Article includes minorities as well as the majority.

Article 30:

Other important minority rights

  • Article 15 prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion race cast sex or place of birth.
  • Article 17 prohibits untouchability. 
  • Articles 25 to 30 preserve the right of minorities on grounds of religion.
  • Article 26 allows religious institutions to be opened.
  • Article 27 provides that no person shall be forced to pay any taxes which are not mandatory.
  • Article 28 provides that there shall be no religious instruction to be followed in any particular educational institution.
  • All minorities shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
  • The protection under Article 30 is confined only to minorities (religious or linguistic) and does not extend to any section of citizens (as under Article 29).

Article 350-B:

  • The 7th Constitutional (Amendment) Act 1956 inserted this article which 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.
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