Thoughts on issues of current interest [my comments - as an Indian citizen - within square brackets], including instances of some double standards of our public figures, especially in the construction of Indian identity (all those Macaulayan myths, and the hypocrisy that is Nehruvian secularism) - Krishen Kak
[This offering leads from a news item "Jains get minority status in Rajasthan" (The Hindu, Sept 5, 2003, p.5). According to the report, the Jains are already notified minorities in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Karnataka.]
April 3, 2002
Treat Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism as distinct religions: Statute review panel Recognising their separate identities, the Constitution Review Commission has recommended that Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism be treated as religions distinct from Hinduism saying a constitutional provision grouping them together should be omitted.
The existing Explanation II of Article 25 of the Constitution (freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion) says reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religions, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly, it said.
"Explanation II to Article 25 should be omitted," the Justice M N Venkatachaliah Commission, which submitted its report to the government on Sunday, said.
[Whether democracy as idealised in its modern Western form, based on the individual as the unit of society, in fact unites or divides the polity is a larger issue. But we have enough experience now that Nehruvian secularism is a horribly divisive force in India. Nehruvian secularism, for all its rhetoric and vision, converts an inclusionary dharma into an exclusionary religion; it separates peoples, not joins them.
For the Jains, Koenraad Elst notes: "Religious separatism has its own dynamic, feeding egos who feel more important as leaders of a religion in its own right rather than a mere sect within a larger tradition. Anti-Hindu separatists are also assured of the support of secularist bureaucracies such as the Minorities' Commission, of the secularist media and of all the non-Hindu religious lobbies. All these are eager to fragment and weaken Hindu society.
Yet, at the sociological level, the Jain community is entirely part of Hindu society.....Historically, Jainism has always enjoyed a place under the umbrella of Hindu pluralism.....obviously Jainism is a Hindu tradition" (2002:129-130)
To the separatist examples Elst lists, add the Constitution Review Commission. As the report in The Hindu states, the advantage of minority notification to the Jains is primarily in admissions of its own members to its own educational institutions - though never as a community have the Jains been under threat nor have Jains been discriminated against in admission to any non-denominational or Hindu-run educational institution. For the "secular" Congress government that took this decision, the report shows that the reason is clearly for electoral gain.
The Jains are a peaceful, prosperous, hardworking Indian community. Neither the identity nor the survival of the community is in any danger. The Kashmiri Pandits are also a peaceful, prosperous, hardworking Indian community. Both its identity and its survival are under threat - it has all but been eradicated from its homeland. Yet the one is accorded minority status by "secular" governments in Hindu-majority areas, whereas the other - notwithstanding a reported recommendation in 1999 by the National Commission for Minorities - is refused this status by a Muslim government in a Muslim-majority area, and therefore even by "secular" governments in the rest of the country in which the Pandits have fled as refugees.
India Today (Sept 22, 2003, p.12) notes that all Congress-ruled states have given minority status to Jains. However, in Kashmir, where the PDP-Congress rule together, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti refused reservations for KPs because, she says, they were well off!
That's Nehruvian secularism for you.]
Koenraad Elst's book is "Who is a Hindu?" and is available from Voice of India, 2/18 Ansari Road, New Delhi 110002. Tel 23278034. Fax 23282047.