National minority status for Jains
The government is working on a proposal to provide
minority status to the Jain community at the national level. So far,
the community has the minority status in eight states. The law
ministry is examining the proposal to make the community, with an
estimated population of five million (50 lakh) in the country,
eligible for the minority status nationally. Union Law
Minister M.Veerappa Moily said in Chennai, on January 16, 2011
Speaking at the inaugural function of Jain International Trade
Organisation (JITO) Global Summit-2011, he said, “We are
definitely working out a formula to execute it as early as possible.”
Currently, Chattisgarh, Delhi, Jharkhand, Karnataka,
Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh recognise
the Jains as a minority. Five communities - Muslims, Sikhs,
Christians, Budhhists and Parsis have been recognised as national minorities.
A minority status enables a community to run and administer
exclusive educational institutions and derive benefits from all
welfare schemes running for the minorities including the PM's
15-point programme. Minorities recognised by the government can
approach the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) for
safeguarding rights and grievance redressal.
A law ministry official said the government could consider
approaching the Supreme Court seeking clarification on an earlier
judgment by the top court ruling that Jain community was a part of
the Hindu tradition.
"The option is available to us though the government is
competent to issue a notification under the provisions of the
National Commission for Minorities Act." "There are
some high court verdicts which have recognised the jain community as
a minority," said the official. The state governments
have the liberty to accord minority status to any community, since
it is a state subject according to the constitution. Delhi is the
latest state to have declared the Jain community as a minority. The
community has an estimated population of around five lakh (half a
million) in the Capital, which is less than one percent of Delhi's
Jain community is a minority in some States of India.
But they are not a Central minority, said Abhishek Manu Singhvi,
AICC spokesperson. He stressed the need for filing a new Public
Interest Litigation (PIL) for reversing a judgment of the Supreme
Court that said Jain community was part of the Hindu tradition. Mr.
Singhvi said various High Court judgments had recognised the Jain
community as a minority. He asked the Jain community to seek
national minority status, “get it and return it” to celebrate
the diversity of Indian culture.
Mr. Singhvi advocated the codification of ritualistic
differences between various sects of the community. “Today's youth
do not realise the footprint of Jain heritage. We live in an era of
multiple crises. Old structures are breaking down,” he added.
“We do not have consensus for statutory amendments,” said
Mr.Singhvi. Adding that the problem of moral deficit
cannot be solved by legislation, he said “The present system of
education values memory more than intellect. This imbalance has to