Minority – What is it?
by Maj P. Tuhinikar Choudary (Retd) (Mob: +91 98480 47477)
Chairman – Institute for Democratic & Economic Affairz (IDEAz)
Too many people seek to receive special consideration by claiming to be from a disadvantaged minority and hence worthy of such consideration. It hence becomes necessary for us to understand who really is from such a disadvantaged minority and how to define such minority, before we talk of necessary special consideration and protection. Is a minority only based on race, caste or religion? Does the same minority definition apply across the entire region under consideration, or the entire country or even the whole world?
Quotations for Consideration:
The political function of rights is to protect minorities from oppression by majorities, which means that a majority has no rights to vote away the rights of a minority. The smallest minority on the earth is the individual hence, individual rights are inalienable and cannot be made subject to a public vote unless such rights infringe on similar rights of other individuals.
What defines a minority and why it needs protection or reservation or special consideration? How can this be done without discrimination against other people in the region and without introducing divisive tendencies?
Also do not try to confuse matters by trying to put individuals into groups of race and caste and slightly different religious beliefs and hence call them a minority or a majority. Who decides which individuals go into which groups. Of course, each minority group has even more minorities within it.
In the corporate sector, a minority shareholder is one who holds less than 10 percent of the shares. The UNO recognizes a minority as being less than two and a half percent of the population in a given region.
In the real world a minority should be a group that at best is less than five or at most 10percent of the population in the relevant or affected locality.
In both these cases, to ensure that their voice is heard and their interests taken care of, some extra consideration is given to them by Law. Though in these days of Social media, when their voice is even otherwise heard loud and clear fairly easily. The law may not need special departments.
Keeping in mind that an interaction between people, or groups of people, for any benefit, would be local and not across other distant and disconnected populations.Asking for consideration across such distant populations and seeking an average measure across such unconnected populations, only distorts the meaning of minority and leads to biased appeasement and divisive policies or tendencies.
The local group in which the minority may face discrimination differs, based on the context,from local group to local group. For example in the village at the Gram Panchayat level, then at the Town or City at the Corporation level.For electing a ruling body at any level it should be at the respective constituency level. If one is looking at equality of consideration or opportunity of a minority at a Gram Panchayat or District or Assembly/ Parliamentary Constituency or even at State level, then one should only consider the population within the boundaries applicable to decide on who are a Minority therein.