By Adity Sharma
The thirst for knowledge is present in each of us from the time we are infants. As we grow and mature, this insatiable curiosity for learning is channeled through educational institutions. Here, we hone our skills, and eventually take up the necessary stations in society.
Swami Vivekananda was one such proponent of education. His thoughts on education can be summed up in the following quote: “Education is the manifestation of perfection already existing in man.” Swamiji stressed that education is where a soul free of moral impurities, a healthy physical body, and a mind with tremendous powers of concentration all work in harmony to form character, strengthen the mind, and hone the intellect. He traveled the length and breadth of India in a noble effort to realize this goal.
Swamiji’s teachings on education were profound indeed, and a State with a goal to honestly educate its citizenry can accomplish this task. But what happens when a State prioritizes certain groups over others? The Indian State, in a misguided endeavor to appear secular, drafted the Constitution which unfairly placed certain groups over others in crucial matters of development. Discrimination in several articles of the Constitution still exists. But the article that concerns educational matters is Article 30. ART.30 (1) states: “All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.” (1A) of ART.30 goes onto ensure that right by promising minorities a share of property of their choice.
These clauses are not only the antithesis of any remote semblance to secularism, but create a shocking amount of unequal opportunities in acquiring land for educational institutions. The post-partition political establishment was enamored with the idea of secular India, but failed miserably when it came to enacting such lofty aims. Instead, a peculiar trend set in, where successive governments continued to implement the status quo.
So, the upshot is that while minorities bask in State promulgated laws, Hindus received no such privilege. A State, in the true democratic spirit and secular ideals cannot promulgate a corpus of laws that amount to unequal application across religious and linguistic communities.
Not only do such articles in the Indian constitution fail to comport with “fair-play and substantial justice,” but erode the very heart of India’s democratic credentials and its professed commitment to secularism. By placing a stamp of State approval on ART.30, the ruling establishment is not doing secular ideals a favor at all. On the contrary, institutionalizing blatant discriminatory laws only gives rise to one community having privileges at the expense of another, and vexation and resentment from the disadvantaged community.
Scholars such as Dr. Koenraad Elst, have repeatedly addressed this issue in books, articles, and interviews. Many more have expatiated about the discriminations created by ART.30. The debates have raged both online and offline. However it is up to the political establishment to call for a debate in Parliament on this issue.
Since 1949, when the Constitution was officially adopted, no political party has come forth to challenge the very anti-secular character of this article.
But on a positive note, elections are a few months away in India, and the party that proposes a Parliamentary debate on this issue can only bolster true secularism. Perhaps, it would not be too outlandish to suggest, that the party with “Justice to all. Appeasement to none.” as the bedrock of its philosophy, should take the bold first step in tabling ART.30 for an honest rethink.
The author is a student at St. John’s University School of Law in New York. Her writings have appeared on HJS, HVK, Vijayvaani, Beliefnet, and Counterpunch.