On the Issue of Minority Rights in A Democracy India Can Be the Teacher of the World: Prof. Peter Ronald Desouza
New Delhi: 5th October, 2016:As the world struggles with working out the moral, legal, and social terms of the majority-minority relationship India’s engagement with this question, since the last 70 years, constitutes a valuable global intellectual resource. On the issue of minority rights in a democracy India can be the teacher of the world. This was stated by Prof. Peter Ronald DeSouzaof Delhi University while delivering 9th Annual Lecture 2016-17 on “Minority Rights and Democracy in India” organised by the National Commission for the Minoritiesin New Delhi today.
Prof.DeSouzasaid that three key ideas emerge from this debate on minority rights. The first that cultural and religious plurality is an asset to a nation and not a threat, a bold argument to be made after partition when the sense of the house was overwhelmingly for strong integration. The second is that cultural autonomy must be allowed, the protective argument, so that individuals can develop their personalities to the fullest using their cultural resources. And the third is to give this belief constitutional and not just statutory status.
Speaking on the occasion, the Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) and Parliamentary Affairs,Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, rights of Minorities are more secure and strong in India in comparison to any other democracy of the world. During last about 2.6 years of NDA government, we have worked hard to create a sense of equality among the Minorities, he added.
Shri Naqvi said that the Minorities have also been equally getting benefits from schemes such as “Pradhanmantri Jan Dhan Yojna”, “Ujjwala Yojna”, “Deen Dayal Gram Jyoti Yojna”, scholarships for students, employment-oriented “Kaushal Vikas Yojna”, health centres and educational institutions. Besides this, there are several welfare schemes of the Minority Affairs Ministry- “PM’s new 15-point programme”, “NaiManzil”, “NaiRaushni”, “SeekhoaurKamao”, “Ustaad”, “Pre-metric and Post-metric scholarships” and other Central Government schemes such as “Make in India”, “Skill India”, “Start up India” which have benefitted the Minorities equally.
The National Commission of Minorities was established in 1978 through a Government notification dated 12.01.1978. Later through enactment of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, a statutory Commission, better known as NCM was set up on 17.05.1993 and the first Chairperson assumed office in July, 1993.
In order to commemorate the setting up of the Statutory Commission in July, 1993, NCM initiated a Lecture series in 2008.
The first NCM lecture was delivered by Justice A. M. Ahmadi, former Chief Justice of India in the year 2008.
Justice Rajender Sachar delivered the second NCM lecture in the year 2009 on “Minorities in Constitution of India”.
In the year 2010, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, former President on India delivered the third NCM lecture on“Evolution of a Prosperous, Peaceful, Inclusive and Happy Society”.
The fourth NCM lecture was delivered by H.H. The Dalai Lama in the year 2011 on “Compassion in Diverse Societies”.
Dr. Shashi Tharoor delivered the fifth NCM lecture on the topic of “Who is an Indian?: A Nation of Minorities” in the year 2012.
The sixth Annual Lecture was delivered by Shri Nitish Kumar, the then Chief Minister of Bihar in 2013 on the topic “The Idea of India”.
The seventh Annual Lecture was delivered by Shri Fali Nariman on “Minorities on cross roads: Comments on Judicial pronouncements” in the year 2014.
The eighth Annual Lecture of NCM was delivered by Shri Arun Jaitley, the Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs on ‘’Economic empowerment of Minorities’’.