Minorities Rights Day is celebrated every year on 18 December across the world. Its objective is to protect the rights of the minority communities and ensure their security and safety despite their religion, language, caste, culture, tradition, and so on. This provides the opportunity to the minorities to live without fear and contribute to nation-building. The United Nations have celebrated this day since 18 December 1992.
India proves its unique identity
India is an exceptional nation in the world, where people of different religions, caste and creed have been living for a long time. Despite the on and off skirmish, people are living together with the peace which is exemplary in the world. Therefore, India is a perfect example of ‘unity in diversity’. Hence, 18 December is an essential day in India as well for spreading better understanding among religious minorities. People of different religions and faith are living in India together. Apart from Hindus, five prominent minorities are residing in this country too.
Percentage of religions living in India, as per 2011 census:
- Hinduism (79.8%)
- Islam (14.2%)
- Christianity (2.3%)
- Sikhism (1.7%)
- Buddhism (0.7%)
- Jainism (0.4%)
- Other religions (0.7%)
- Religion not stated (0.2%)
Article 14 clears all dust
Article 14 of the Constitution of India has guaranteed equality before the law for all citizens of this country. This Article has made it clear that there will be no discrimination on the ground of religion, caste, race, sex or place of birth. The constitution of India also takes the step to safeguard the minorities rights of linguistic, ethnic, cultural, and religions.
Minorities Rights in the Constitution
Article 29 has cleared the decks of the protection of the minorities by making a provision that any citizen or section of citizens having a distinct language, script or culture has the right to conserve the same. It also says that no discrimination would be made on the grounds of religion, race, caste or language.
Article 30 of the Indian Constitution states that “All the minorities, regarding their religion or language, will have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
Aim of Minorities Rights Day
Minorities Rights Day is celebrated in India by the National Commission for Minorities to spread the light of religious harmony and peace, spread brotherhood and remove hatred among all religions of the country. It aims at promoting the idea to respect each other and motivating the cultural activities of minorities for a better understanding of each others’ culture.
Duty of State governments
The state governments in India have the responsibility to improve the overall conditions of minorities in the country. Therefore, state governments have to work from the grassroots level to spread awareness among the people about the national, linguistic, religious, and cultural identity of the state and country.
Ministry of Minority Affairs
For providing better facilities and opportunities to the minorities of the country, the government of India decided to create a separate ministry known as ‘Ministry of Minority Affairs’ on 29 January 2006 to ensure more benefits to the notified minorities namely Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Sikhs, Parsis, and Jain.
The primary function of the ministry is to make policy and planning for the welfare of minorities of the country. It also reviews the progress and the implementation of development work among minority communities. This ministry keeps vigil eyes on the prosperity, security and happiness of the minorities of the country.
Jains’ inclusion in minority list
Although the Constitution of India has not defined the word ‘Minority’ rather, it has used the word minorities considering religion and language of a person. National Commission for Minorities (NCM) under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 have notified five communities as a minority in the country – Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) later on 27 January 2014 Jains have been considered as a minority government.
Works of NCM
The NCM has been following the United Nations Declaration of 18 December 1992, which states that “States shall protect the existence of the National or Ethnic, Cultural, Religious and Linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories and encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity”.
Functions and Powers of NCM
National Commission for Minorities (NCM) keeps eyes on the progress and development of the minorities under the Union and states and monitor the safeguards of the minorities provided under the constitution of India. The NCM is a watchful eye to hear the complaints regarding deprivation of the rights of the minorities and raise this matter with the appropriate authorities. It tries to remove if any discrimination takes place against the minorities. The commission also conducts socio-economic and educational development as well as reports to the Union government over the difficulties facing minority communities of the country.
Minorities Rights Day is a wonderful way to spread the message of peace, friendship, fraternity and brotherhood all over the world and lift the conditions of the depressed class. This day provides a chance to the minorities to go ahead on the way to progress and live with equality without any kind of fear and discrimination.