Minority Rights Day
Minority Rights Day is observed in India on 18 December every year to safeguard and protect the interests of minorities. This day focuses on bringing awareness and better understanding about issues related to minorities and their safety.
Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities has been adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 1992. The basic aim of the United Nations was to promote and encourage respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.
India is a diverse country where a massive population is of different linguistic, ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds live together in harmony. Not only do most of the world’s Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs live in India, but it also is home to one of the world’s largest Muslim populations and to millions of Christians and Buddhists. To safeguard the Constitutionally-guaranteed rights of all religions in the country National Commission for Minorities was set up.
The Union Government set up the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. Initially five religious communities, viz., Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians (Parsis) were notified as minority communities by the Union Government. Later on 27th January 2014, Jains were also notified as another minority community.
Each State Government constituted State Minorities Commissions in their respective State Capitals. Notification of any community-specific to a State as a minority community within a State comes under the purview of the State concerned. Aggrieved persons belonging to the minority communities may approach the concerned State Minorities Commissions for redressal of their grievances.
For the first time in January 2006, the Ministry of Minority Affairs was carved out of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. It was on 18 December 2013 when the first Minorities Rights Day was observed in India.
Constitutional Provisions for Minorities:
The safeguards for the protection of interests of minorities are mandated in the following provisions of the Constitution of India:
Prohibition of discrimination against citizens on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
Citizens’ right to equality of opportunity in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State, and prohibition in this regard of any discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
People’s freedom of conscience and right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion – subject to public order, morality, and other Fundamental Rights.
Right of every religious denomination or any section thereof – subject to public order, morality, and health – to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes, manage its own affairs in matters of religion, and own and acquire movable and immovable property and administer it in accordance with the law.
People’s freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in educational institutions wholly maintained, recognized, or aided by the State.
Non-denial of admission to any citizen to any educational institution maintained or aided by the State, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language, or any of them.
Right of all religious and linguistic minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
State laws providing for compulsory acquisition of property of minority educational institutions shall ensure that the compensation amount to be paid does not restrict or abrogate the right guaranteed above.
Freedom of minority-managed educational institutions from discrimination in the matter of receiving aid from the State.
Instead of minority and majority politics, if we try and give the same rights to all, it is not polarisation. This is the core value of our Constitution. – Amit Shah
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