Editor's Desk

Pluralism not UCC India's strength

At a time when the country is grappling with a myriad of problems both on the internal and external fronts, the central government has invited more trouble by opening a front against Muslims on religious grounds. Religion is a serious and sensitive issue for a majority of Indians and interference with their religious beliefs taken as an attack on their belief system. India has been a seat of pluralist society for centuries and Indians have happened to be a synthetical outlook of religion and culture. Indians believe in peaceful co-existence and this co-existence requires respect for the religious beliefs and practices of the others. Jawahar Lal Nehru sums up this belief in the following words:
"Synthesis was the secret of Indian tradition and India's survival through history." India has survived through history because of this peaceful approach towards the other and in this modern age too, India will survive if all the cultural and religious groups are allowed to live in harmony without imposing one's own beliefs and ideas on others.
The efforts of the central government to implement the Uniform Civil Code by abolishing all the personal laws of the minorities have created anxiety and concerns among the minorities of the country as they see it as an attempt at bringing all the minority communities under the umbrella of the majority beliefs and practices. The timing of the questionnaire of The Law Commission of India seeking opinion of the masses on whether polygamy, triple talaq and Muslim Personal Law be abolished or banned is also being questioned. They feel that the step of the LCI is in sync with the government's campaign to push the UCC. The Law Commission argues that in the Constitution's Article 44, it has been suggested that the government will endeavour to implement a Uniform Civil Code to remove injustice and bring equality to all the communities of the country. The Law Commission or the central government believes that all the injustices and inequalities and discrimination against women will be removed once the UCC is implemented. In other words, it believes that the present Constitutional rights and framework have failed to deliver equality and justice to the citizens and therefore, it became imperative to implement the UCC. The question is: is it really the situation? Have the government tried to exploit all the Constitutiional powers given to the government and the executive to deliver justice bring progress among the marginalized sections of the society? Has the government taken steps to bring about educational, economic and social development among the backward and oppressed sections of the society? Has the government brought the perpetrators of injustices, violence in the name of religion to book under the existing constitutional framework? The answer is no. The government has not done much for the emancipation of the dalits, the Christians and Muslims in the country though the Constitution has clearly outlined the fundamental rights of the minorities and the underprivileged sections because its intentions were not good. Thousands of communal riots happened because the state did not use the powers and authority given by the Constitution to the state. Sachar Committee showed that Muslims were worse than the dalits in terms of economic, educational and political condition though the government had funds and infrastructure to deliver their rights to the Muslims. The minority character of their educational institutions were taken away though the Costitution gave them the right to establish and administer their own educational institutions. Their men are killed for allegedly storing beef in the refrigerator and their women are being beaten up on railway platforms and trains for carrying beef but the state machinery is ignoring their constitutional duties because of religious bias. In none of the cases, the constitution is a hindrance in the delivery of justice and rights to the discriminated groups. How then the government can justify its resorting to the Uniform Civil Code as the remedy for all social and economic ills. If the government is really serious about the betterment and progress of all the communities of the country, it should first implement the existing laws which are sufficient for the delivery of state services to the citizens. And if the state feels that the existing laws are not sufficient for executing its desired or prescribed tasks, then the Constitution itself has provision of amendments in the existing laws for the good of the citizens. Instead of worrying about only the women of a community, the government should worry about the whole community and work under the constitutional provisions for the progress and prosperity of the community.
Therefore, the campaign for the implementation of the UCC and for the abolition of Muslim Personal Law seems to be founded on some hidden agenda and not on sincere will to bring about justice, equality and prosperity among its citizens. The purpose is to wean away religious and cultural identity of the minorities and push India further towards anarchy and chaos at a time when the country is troubled with both outer and inner conflicts. The government should not disturb the pluralistic character and secular atmosphere of the country by insisting on the implementation of the UCC. Let India be pluralist society. Pluralism, not UCC is the strength of India.