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.”
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 population.
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 be corrected.”