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JUDGMENT: MINORITIES

NUMBERS WORRY TELLERS, RIGHT?

 

Whatever happened to the idea that all men were created equal . . .
R. VENKATARAMAN | Issue Dated: April 22, 2007
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NUMBERS WORRY TELLERS, RIGHT? On 5 April, Justice S.N. Srivastava of the Allahabad High Court ruled that Muslims cannot be considered a minority in Uttar Pradesh anymore. Srivastava’s ruling (which the same High Court later stayed) was on the basis of various criteria including the population of Muslims in the 1951 and 2001 Census reports. The judgment came on a writ petition filed by a madrasa of Ghazipur district, UP, challenging out of turn grant-in-aid to other minority institutions.

In UP, where surnames matter more than anything else, the ruling was a bombshell. It, predictably, triggered debate. Former Chief Justice of India V.N. Khare, while speaking to TSI, said the judgment was “unsustainable”. The term minority, according to Khare, is thus defined: “If the population of a particular citizenry in a State, taken as one unit, is less than 50% of the religious or linguistic status of that State or unit, then that particular citizenry would be determined as minority”.



FIGURE IT OUT

Allahabad judge says

Muslims not a minority in UP

Huge controversy arises, and court stays order

l 'Minority' word defined by SC

l Fresh race for minority tag



The fuss over the term ‘minority’ is because the Indian State offers many subsidies to communities thus classified. This prompts politicians to pander to numbers and, in turn, create unhealthy categories of people instead of treating everyone as equal. For instance, Hamid Ansari, Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, told TSI his version of a minority. “In relation to 51%, 49% is a minority”, he said. This is tricky. It implies that State subsidy of ‘minorities’ will be perpetual. This obsession with numbers and classification negates the magnificent concept that all men are created equal. This, and only this, ought to be the case in India. Religious numbers should be barely of consequence, and obsession with figures is best left to accountants.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017