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Hijab row: The right to offend comes with corresponding responsibility

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Founder Director Lokbandhu Rajnarayan Law College Varanasi 221302 web: Since 2004

Recent dress code issue in Karnataka is one such example. I just ponder, did State University deny the girls their basic rights of education due to their religion or dress code! If it was due to their religion, I really condemn the step of state but had been it was to bring uniformity among the students where is the state body wrong? Art 25 which provides Freedom of conscience , free profession and propagation of religion begins with the phrase ‘subject to public order’ & so does Art 26 starts with the same phrase. What is this public order? It simply means people behaving sensibly and rationally and respecting others. It’s a simple interpreattion for man of common prudence. There is no rocket science or it doesn’t need to set a judicial committee to interpret these two words! In age of achieving  artificial intelligence we are regressing towards chaotic epoch! If every individual come on to raise his individual rights where would the limitations of Constitution go!

In above context, I would share on personal experience of one fool. That person had parked his car on wrong side of road and when objected he yelled that he was paying the road tax and he has right to park his car anywhere on the road! This is what foolish person empowered with right can do! It is truth that fools and fanatics are so sure of themselves that wiser and humble people get engulfed with doubts.

As an avid thinker, I would like to attract the attentions of my readers on an issue which we seldom raise in any debate on social issues. The constitution of india has used the word ‘person’ or ‘citizen’ in context of protecting the right of an individual against any sort of discrimination done by State. But specially during election season the political parties tend to raise issues of Hindu Muslim Sikhs Christians getting deeper into their caste and creeds rather than raising collective issues like employment, education, health, taxes. If we closely look into the agenda of these political parties we would find that they pluck the chord, like religion, nationalism, dress codes, temple, mosques which really converge the votes to their ballots. Does the right to offend comes with no corresponding responsibility?

Coming upto reason and chronology behind this hue and cry we have to look over some statistics. As per 2011 Census of India on educational level by religious community it shows that 42.7% of Muslims in India are illiterate. This is the highest illiteracy rate for any single religious community in the country. Muslims are the only community to have an illiteracy rate higher than the national rate among all communities. For Hindus, the figure stands at 36.3%, the second highest proportion of illiterate people. Literacy rates are highest among Jains, at 84.7%, followed by Christians (74.3%), Buddhists (71.8%) and Sikhs (67.5%). And alarmingly, the illiteracy rate for the entire population taken together is 36.9%.

What does the statistics reveal? The high level of poverty and illiteracy among the Muslim community explains its larger “desired number of children”, than other communities. Muslims have fared worse in education than other communities even though reservation policy in muslim backward communinity exists as per the constitutional provisions. Policy-making in India in past decades been generally neutral or adopted the policy of appeasement. When ever there has been talk of measures to control population, independent of caste and community considerations, the political appeasement voice rises. It is important to promote health and education in Muslim areas, focusing on women, to bring down population growth effectively and increase work participation. Why the help of religious leaders and film actors are needed to convince the Muslim community to take the vaccine?

Since, politics is the organized pursuit of power, and Muslim fundamentalists seek over power variously through the family’s procreation practices and child rearing, the religious education board, the seminary or madrasas, the religious endowment like waqfs, the political party, the military and finally the government to rule. If Muslim fundamentalists are to form a modern political party in some part of the world  it will be the “party of Allah.” If fundamentalists are to justify the assassination or war it will be through ‘jihad’, a concept taken from Islamic religious law. The fundamentalist leaders claim to speak for the dispossessed and despised masses like “millions of the unhappily ruled, the educated-but-unemployable, futureless young, the poor, the dispossessed—those whom Muslims call ‘the disinherited’ and whom they recruit by the tens of thousands.”

Hindus, I guess, are expected to have thicker skins and more liberals than their Muslim bretherens. When we ask Muslims to denounce a handful of extremists as an existential threat to existing civilisation in any part of the world they turn a blind eye and pretend to be a victim  of widespread discrimination against Muslims in education, employment and public life which is just a fallacy created by the much bigger threat- fanatic leaders.

Generally if we talk about dressing sense in educational institution it should be proper civilised dress. If uncommon dress code is prevailing then there are different institutions for them as well. as we have in Hindu culture the tradition of batuks scholars, in Buddhuism we have buddhist monks who wear regular clothes ONLY before they become a monk. Once they become monk and enter a monastery they wear robes which are meant to symbolize simplicity and detachment of materialism and even if they come out in robes they are considered to be monks or bhikkhus, follow a strict code of conduct, which includes celibacy. By becoming a monk or a nun, one abandons the ways and appearance of a lay man and adopts the appearance and ways of an ordained person by keeping a number of vows.

At last, I would emphasize that this is high time to bring UNIFORM CIVIL CODE which would be applicable to all religious communities in matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption. The code comes under Article 44 of the Constitution, which lays down that the state shall endeavour to secure a Uniform Civil Code for the citizens throughout the territory of India. Its high time to look beyond hijab issue or SRK incident and focus our energies on resisting on resisting those who are strenously trying to divide us apart. We as a citizen of great nation should try to to be indivisible!

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Founder Director Lokbandhu Rajnarayan Law College Varanasi 221302 web: Since 2004
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