Minority Status Current Affairs
The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has set up three member committee to study the matter to give minority status to Hindus in 8 states where their population is less than 50%.
The committee will be led by NCM’s Vice Chairman George Kurien and has been given three months to submit its report. NCM after examining the report will take a view over the issue.
The NCM’s decision is based on plea filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashwini Upadhyaya, whose petition on matter to grant minority status to Hindus in eight states was rejected by Supreme Court in November 2017. The apex court had directed him to approach the NCM.
According to 2011 Census, Hindus are in monitory in eight states — Lakshadweep (2.5%), Mizoram (2.75%), Nagaland (8.75%), Meghalaya (11.53%), J&K (28.44%), Arunachal Pradesh (29%), Manipur (31.39%), and Punjab (38.40%). It is argued that in absence of “minority” status to Hindus in these states, benefits meant for minority communities were being given away to majority community in illegal and arbitrary manner.
National Commission for Minorities (NCM)
NCM is statutory body set up under National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. It works under the Ministry of Minority Affairs. Its mandate is to evaluate progress of development of Minorities.
It also monitors working of safeguards provided in Constitution and in laws enacted by Parliament and State Legislatures. It also makes recommendations for effective implementation of safeguards for protection of interests of Minorities by the Central Government or State Governments. It looks into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of minorities and take up such matters with the appropriate authorities.
Constitution of India has not defined word ‘Minority’ and only refers to ‘Minorities’ but it speaks of those ‘based on religion or language’ and rights of minorities have been spelt out in Constitution in detail. Six religious communities, viz. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified in Gazette of India as minority communities by Union Government all over India.
The Gujarat Government has accorded minority status to the Jain community in the state.
In this regard state government has issued a government resolution (GR) giving minority status to the Jain community.
- The decision has nothing to do with reservations and the new status will benefit the poor among the Jain community.
- The poor among the minority community can avail of various scholarships, government welfare schemes.
- Jain institutions will also get special status like the one given to Christian and Muslim institutions as per Article 30 of Indian Constitution.
The previous UPA Government at the Centre had conferred the minority status on the Jain community at the national level in January 2014. Jains were the 6th community to have minority status after Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis.
Under the Constitution, religious and linguistic minorities enjoy special rights. The minority status helps to give constitutional safeguards to minority communities and make them eligible for welfare programmes of the Union Minority Affairs Ministry.