Muslim and Christian leaders in India see danger in a pro-Hindu group’s demand that the government revoke a policy allowing minority groups to own and manage educational institutions in the country.
A report released on Oct. 10 by the Centre for Policy Analysis, a think tank of hard-line Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, stated that allowing religious minority groups to have institutions for their own people was tantamount to “compartmentalization” that works against the unity of India.
“There is no rationale for the existence of a separate wing for education of minorities such as [the] National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions in the Ministry of Human Resource Development. Aren’t such types of national level regulating bodies compartmentalizing education on religious lines and weakening the national mainstream?” asked the report.
The Centre for Policy Analysis wants the government to discontinue the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, a legal body that advises the federal and state government on issues related to minority institutions.
Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Calcutta, who chairs the Indian bishops’ office for education, said the demand goes against the provisions of the Indian constitution that allows religious minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice to help advancement of their community members. “In effect, they are asking to change the Indian constitution,” the archbishop told in ucanews.com.
Technically, the Hindu group has only asked to close down the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions. But by de facto the demand is to remove the provision to have minority institutions as the commission is the authority to grant minority status to an educational institution.
“All Indians, particularly religious minorities, should be afraid about such demands,” Archbishop D’Souza said. Some 220 million people or 18.4% of 1.2 billion Indians are officially considered part of a religious minority. Some 140 million Muslims, the largest minority, constitute 13.4% of the population, while 27 million Christians (2.3%) are the second largest minority group. Other religious minorities are Sikhs (1.9%), Buddhists (0.8%) and Parsis (0.07%) of the country’s total population.