29 Dec Minorities in the Constitution of India
Minorities in the Constitution of India
The Constitution of India recognizes linguistic and religious minorities. However, the term “minority” is not defined in Constitution.
The National Commission for Minority Education Institution Act (NCMEI), 2004 identifies minorities only at the national level and does not recognize minorities at the state level which is construed by some scholars as a deprivation of their rights. Recently, a petition was filed in the Supreme court with reference to the identification of Hindus as minorities in some states. There have been several requests from different parties about the increasing identity politics in India’s democracy.
Provisions for Minorities in Constitution
Article 29 and Article 30: These articles grant protection to both religious and as well as linguistic minorities. They also allow them to protect their distinct culture and establish educational institutions.
Article 350-B: It creates a provision for Special Officers for Linguistic Minorities who will be appointed by President. The Special Officer will investigate issues and matters regarding rights and safeguards provided under the constitution.
The government has brought various schemes and policies since independence to uplift minorities and empower them:
- Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme, Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme, Merit-cum-Means based Scholarship Scheme – For educational empowerment of students through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mode.
- Maulana Azad National Fellowship Scheme – Provide fellowships in the form of financial assistance.
- Naya Savera – Free Coaching and Allied Scheme – The Scheme aims to provide free coaching to students/candidates belonging to minority communities for qualifying in entrance examinations of technical/ medical professional courses and various competitive examinations.
- Padho Pardesh – Scheme of interest subsidy to students of minority communities on educational loans for overseas higher studies.
- Nai Udaan – Support for students clearing Prelims conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), State Public Service Commission (PSC) Staff Selection Commission (SSC), etc.
- Nai Roshni – Leadership development of women belonging to minority communities.
Many noted independent freedom fights in Constituent Assembly that A country becomes secular not how it treats the majority of the community but when it treats the minority at par with the majority.
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