Religious Apartheid in Modern India- Transforming of a Civilisation

The discriminatory policies induced by Article 30 of the Indian constitution, arguably, violate Articles 23 and 26 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN Charter) to which India is a signatory.[xxii] Specifically, “the right to work, to free choice of employment,” mentioned in Article 23 and, “higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit,” mentioned in Article 26 appear to be violated. Therefore, Article 30-induced discriminations constitute human rights violations as well.  

For all the talk of its emergence, India is one of the most impoverished nations on the planet. A 2006 family health survey conducted there found that 46 percent of its children under the age of three were underweight, even surpassing 28 percent for children under the age of five in sub-Saharan countries. Anaemia, a condition reflecting malnutrition was found to increase among Indian children to 79 percent, up from 74 percent in 1999.[xxiii] The extent of malnutrition is such that nearly two million Indian children every year – i.e., about six thousand children every day – die from it.[xxiv] 

The Hindu majority has become under-privileged in part due to centuries of alien rule in which they were shut out of power and were discriminated against. It is indeed true that at the present time the Muslim minorities are relatively under-privileged compared to the Hindu majority.[xxv] Even still, one has to wonder how much of that is self-inflicted, considering the well-established reluctance of the Muslim community in India to embrace modern education[xxvi] by choosing madarasa (Muslim religious school) education. The regressive evolution of the Muslim majority Pakistan,[xxvii] despite sharing much with India also substantiates the role of self-infliction.  

By their own accounts, the Christian minorities are easily among the most empowered in India. The other sizeable minority, the Sikhs, are also better off compared to the majority community, as most of them live in the fertile state of Punjab. In this context, Article 30 is not only hard to justify, but it can be seen to extend hardships the majority community underwent for centuries, albeit this time by successive governments it helped to elect. 

Education and employment are necessary paths to empowerment and a ticket out of poverty. India’s own constitution-induced discriminations, that allow religious preferences to dictate over merit, deny unfairly a path out of poverty for millions of innocent children and youths. These discriminations show the sheer absurdity of the Right to Education Act[xxviii] passed recently by the Indian parliament, as many of the best schools and colleges in the nation are controlled by the missionaries who discriminate against the nearly 95 percent of the nation’s population as a matter of policy. 

In the long run, what is at stake is more than India’s retarded development or egregious human rights violations. 

The long-term implications of Article 30-induced religious discriminations and missionaries’ disproportional control of educational institutions can be studied by applying “Dynamic Models of Segregation” developed by the Nobel Prize-winning economist Thomas Schelling.[xxix] He originally showed that a small preference for one's neighbours to be of the same color could lead to total segregation. The positive feedback cycle of segregation–prejudice–in-group preference can be found in most human populations, with great variation in what are regarded as meaningful differences: Gender, age, race, ethnicity, language, sexual preference and religion. Significantly, he showed that once a cycle of separation-prejudice-discrimination-separation has begun, it has a self-sustaining momentum. The segregation process has the tendency to pick up momentum overtime from trickle to exodus, just like very rapidly increasing viewership of a successful movie, as the word of mouth gets around. 

Dr. Schelling’s theory, as it is applied to the religious conversion of the majority community in India involves replacing separation by conversion (to Christianity), and prejudice by lower social status (due to the denial of education and employment opportunities in missionary-controlled elite institutions) and welcoming efforts of the proselytizing missionaries. 

This conversion “version” of segregation may have already happened in certain regions of India. The northeast Indian states of Nagaland and Mizoram had less than a 1 percent Christian population percentage at the beginning of the past century.[xxx] However, by the 1991 census year, the Christian populations in these two states had increased to almost 90 percent.[xxxi] Unlike in most of the rest of India, the missionaries were pioneers in bringing education and other civic amenities to these under-developed regions. Adding this to the missionaries’ overwhelming control of educational institutions there probably led to the rapid conversion of the natives.  

However, Christianization of India as a whole has not occurred at this fast pace because in the rest of India, for many decades, the upper caste Hindus were better educated than the Christian minorities and the communities there in general have developed more than the ones in Mizoram or Nagaland. The Hindu majority also established and ran many educational institutions. And importantly, the missionary-controlled educational institutions, baring a quota of few percent, admirably kept the enrolment open for everyone, regardless of the background. As a result, until 2001, for almost fifty years, the Christian minority population percentage in all of India trickled very slowly upwards to about 2.3. 

But then, all of a sudden, Christian population percentage surged dramatically higher. 

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