NATIONAL MINORITY STATUS FOR JAIN COMMUNITY IN INDIA
By BAL PATIL : Delhi state has already declared minority status for the Jain community thanks to the persistent efforts of my colleague and President of the all India Jain Minority forum, Mr.Chakresh Jain, President, Jain Samaj, Delhi I do not think there is any legal or constitutional problem.
The real issue now is declaration of national minority status for the Jain religious community in India. I have attached a document giving the Jain population figures according to the 2001 Census. Jains have been declared a minority in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, West Bengal, Uttaranchala and Jharkhand States . The total population of the Jain minority declared minority thus comes to 3,678, 551. The total Jain population in India is 4,225, 053. Thus the percentage of the Jain minority population comes to 88%. But being more than 50% to constitute a minority population in the whole of India is no longer taken into account. The government is hoist with its own petard.
But the irony is that inspite of being declared minority in these States the Jain minority community is still treated as not eligible to the sumptuous Scholarships announced by the Prime Minister and the Minority Affairs Minister for Pre and Post-Matriculation students because Jains are not a National Minority !! This is a matter of blatant discrimination. I have already drawn the attention of the Minority Affairs Minister, Shri Antulaysaheb and said that I shall be constrained to file a writ petition on this issue.
As to how the State Governments are indifferent to the Minority welfare is pinpointed by the fact that the Maharashtra State Minority Commission was reconstituted on 4th August 2006 with only the appointment of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman the rest of the Members are still not appointed.
The question is : Are all the benefits only meant for the national minorities so-called? I do not mean any disrespect to the national minorities so designated under the National Minorities Commission act. But I am constrained to take a strong exception to the blatantly discriminatory manner in which the Jains declared as a minority in various States such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Uttaranchala, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan comprising 88% of the total Jain population in India because the Jain minority students in these States are specifically excluded from the benefit of the Pre and Post-Matriculation Scholarships announced under the New Prime Minister’s 15-Point Plan in co-operation with similar State Government packages.
I refer to the Maharashtra Government General Administration Dept. Resolution No. R.A.A. 2003/1216/P No.114/03/05, Mantralaya, Mumbai-400032, 7-5-2004 I think the wording very clearly states that the State is making this Nortification in accordance with the Jain community demand for declaration as a minority “like the five minority communities so declared by the Central government according to the NCM Act.” The context unmistakeably points to the parity in minority community status of the Jains with the other minority communities.
I also refer to a Sakal Marathi daily Ad offering Cenrtral Govt Scholarships for Post-Matriculation students only to national minorities which is a matter of blatant discrimination since this is for the benefit of State minorities in which the Jains also happen to be a minority.
STATUS OF JAIN COMMUNITY
The Minority Affairs Minister, Shri A.R. Antulay has stated on May 7, 2007 replying to an Unstarred Question in Rajya Sabha that the National Commission for Minorities(NCM) had recommended that, as a separate religion, Jains deserve to be notified as a minority community. However, in its Annual Report for 1997-98, the NCM stated that the demand of Jains for minority status is one view point prevailing in the community and recommended that the Government must through its own resources ascertain the broad consensus on this issue keeping in view all dissenting voices.
The Minister stated that as per Census 2001, the total population of Jains is 4,225,053, which is 0.4% of the total population of the country. The Jain community is spread through out India except in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep.
Shri Antulay further informed that a Civil appeal was filed by Bal Patil & Another seeking issuance of a direction to the government to notify Jains as a minority community. In accordance with the recommendation of the Standing committee on Social Justice & empowerment, Government has examined the implications of the judgment in this case and is proposing official amendments to the constitution (One Hundred and Third amendment) Bill, 2004.)
When I pointed out to Shri Syed Shahabuddin, Ex-MP, Editor, Muslim India the apparent inconsistency and contradiction in the Shri Antulay’s response to a question in Rajya Sabha that the National Minority Commission “However, in its Annual Report for 1997-98, the NCM stated that the demand of Jains for minority status is one view point prevailing in the community and recommended that the Government must through its own resources ascertain the broad consensus on this issue keeping in view all dissenting voices.” he asked me to write a letter to the Minister under copy to the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha whether his response was not misleading the House on the the minority status of the Jain community because it brought in the issue of “consensus” which is quite irrelevant to the issue of determination of minority status and such was not the criterion when the National Minorities so-called were declared.
The facts are: Statistics about the Jain Community are published in the Census of India 2001 under the heading THE FIRST REPORT ON RELIGION DATA. There are only 4,225,053 Jains in the total population of India of 1.028 billion. It means that there is one Jain among 243 Indians. Though so less in the numbers, Jains are to be found in 34 out of 35 states and union territories. The only union territory without Jains is Lakshdweep. Jains are counted as a major religious community ever since the first Census in India in 1873.
States having more than 0.1 million Jains are only seven and they are:-
State Jain Population
1 Maharashtra 1,301,842 Jain Minority State
2 Rajasthan 650,493 Jain Minority State
3 Madhya Pradesh 545,448 Jain Minority State
4 Karnataka 412,654 Jain Minority State
5 Uttar Pradesh 207,111 Jain Minority State
6 Delhi 155,122 Jain Minority State
7 West Bengal 55,223 Jain Minority State
8 Uttaranchala 9,249 Jain Minority State
9 Jharkhand 16,103 Jain Minority State
Total Jain population Indian according to 2001 Census: 4,225,053
Jain Minority States Population : 3,678,551
Percentage of Jain population in Indian accorded
minority status: 88%
Gujarat is the only State having a sizeable Jain population of 525,305 not declared minority status. but the curious fact is that the very section of the Shwetambar Sect Jains who form the majority of the Jains in Gujarat State have seured minority status for their educational institutions e.g Tapovan Trust of Surat. The following is the facsimile of the minority educational certificate. (Attached) And yet the Jains in Gujarat State forming a sizeable population continue to oppose the minority status which gives an excuse to the Government of India and the National Minority Commission that there is no consensus among the Jain community!!
I would like to quote here my correspondence with Mr.Pratapbhai Bhogilalji which brings out the doublethink in the attitude towards the Jain minority status in the Gujarat State:
BAL PATIL’S E-MAIL CORRESPONDENCE WITH SHRI PRATAPBHAI BHOGILAL ON MINORITY STATUS OBTAINED BY TAPOVAN TRUST IN AHMEDABAD AND SURAT
June 15, 2006
Respected Shri Pratapbhai Bhogilalji,
I refer to our telephonic talk about the Tapovan Trust in Ahmedabad and Surat which is running educational institutions. I learn that the source of inspiration for its educational mission is Shri Chandrashekharji Maharaj. According to informed sources the Tapovan Trust has secured minority status for its. educational institutions.
I have also come across information about Tapovan Trust on the Website http://www.tapovan.org/ with the name “Tapovan Sanskar Pith” with its subsidiaries
Tapovan Sanskarpith at Sabarmati and Tapovan Sanskardham at Navsari inspired by Parampujya Chandrashekharvijayji. It is run by government registered Jeevan Jagruti Trust, 277, Nisha Pole, Zaveriwad, Relief Road, Ahmedabad-380 001. Phone 079) 535 6033. The donations are to be sent to Jeevan Jagruti Trust.
Since it is a Government registered Trust its Registration No. should be available with the Charity Commissioner’s Office, Ahmedabad. As for the minority status and recognition by the State Government an application needs to be made to the Education Dept. of the Government of Gujarat for the details of the grant of minority status to Tapovan Trust to make available the information under the Right to Information Act It is mandatory to provide such information to the public under the Act.
My Dear Bal Patil,
I am sending you herewith the best translation that I could make of my letters addressed to Param Pujya Acharya Vijay Sheelchandra Suriji dated 8/6/06 and 16/6/06. ——————————————————————————————————–
The gist of two letters written by Pratap Bhogilal, Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees of World Jain Confederation in Gujarati to Acharya Vijay Sheelchandra Suriji.
Parampujya Acharya Shri Vijaysheelchandra Suriji,
I am grateful to you for sending me a copy of your letter to Shri Antulaysaheb. Since a copy has been sent to me I assume that I am expected to give a reaction, hence I am encouraged to respond by this letter.
What you write is quite proper that all of us residing in Bharat or Hindustan are Hindus. Therefore, I take it that you do not accept that Hindu is a religion. I also think likewise. But unfortunately our political parties have taken Hindu to mean religion. As a matter of fact it is Vedic that is the religion and its various branches are like Shaiva, Vaishnava, Brahman just as amongst our Jains there are Shwetambara, Digambara. Therefore the Jain demand for minority status is on religion basis just as Islam, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist have been recognized as minorities on the basis of their religion.
When Jains are denominated as a minority, it does not mean that they cease to be Hindu or Bharatiya but in the true sense of the term being Hindu or Bharatiya is a symbol of our Bharatiyatva as well as of our culture of tolerance and secularism. Thus all communities whether they are Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist should have no misgivings in being Bharatiya or Hindustani once it is declared in no uncertain terms that Hinduism is not a religion but denotes our Indian culture of tolerance and real secularism. And thus all our differences will come to an end. But political parties are not interested in this because of ‘vote bank’.
As a matter of fact Jains are counted as a religious community in a separate column in the Census form. But since under the Census of India Act the major religious communities are Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain and counted accordingly in order to avoid confusion it would be necessary to enumerate Hindus as Vedic and its sub columns should include Shaiva, Vaishnava, Brahman etc. The word Hindu should not appear in the census form and the other communities based on religion such as Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians etc. should appear in other columns of the census which will show what a diverse religious country is India and that in such diversity we have unity.
Thus we have to suggest proper changes in the Census form and there should be a campaign to that end.
I have learnt that the Tapovan institution has secured minority status. Thus how far is it proper to oppose the demand for Jain minority status on the one hand and on the other secure it by demanding it for one’s institution?
Therefore, if there is change in your outlook by taking into account two notes – one, the pros and cons – and two Dr. L.M. Singhvi’s letter to Shri Antulaysaheb, copies of which I am sending to you, I earnestly hope that you will please write again an appropriate letter to Shri Antulaysaheb.
It is my humble submission that there may be difference of opinion on certain issues but there is no room for any mental discord.
If anything that I have written is not liked by you, I would beg for your forgiveness. I regret I have not been able to have your Darshan for quite some time, but I could not help it because of health reasons. I hope I shall be able to come for your Darshan/vandan shortly.
I beg your forgiveness if I have written anything which might be construed as scriptural irregularities.
Praying for your and other worshipfuls’ peaceful serenity.
If there is anything I can do, I await your command.
Once again I am sending you my most respectful 1008 vandana.
P.S.: Perhaps it has escaped your attention that according to the Amendment to the Article 15 of our Constitution passed in 2005 the private institutions are brought within the purview of Reservations but minority institutions are exempted. Thus if Jains want to protect themselves from the harmful effects of the Mandal Commission it is necessary for us to obtain minority status.
Maharashtra has the distinction of having the largest number of Jains in the country. The state of Jharkhand, which contains the holiest of holy pilgrimage centre of Samyed Sikharji and is the birthplace of Jainism, is reduced to having a population of only 16,301 Jains. This is a great tragedy.
A matter of great pride brought out by the religious census data is that among all religions, the literacy percentage of Jains is the highest at 94.1% as seen from the table below.
Literacy percentage by Religion, 2001
Religion Literacy Rate
1 Jains 94.1
2 Christians 80.3
3 Buddhists 72.7
4 Sikhs 69.4
5 Hindus 65.1
6 Muslims 59.1
The remarkable achievement of Jains is that their literacy is highest and their percentage of literacy is 14% more than that of Christians who are famous for their progress in the educational field.
Another aspect where the Jain community has to reform itself is in the work participation ratio of women. It is only by coming out of the four walls of the house and participating in the Economic, Social and Cultural life in the outside world that a woman can develop her total personality. Work participation ratio for males and females demonstrates that while Jain men are at the top with 55.2%, Jain women are at the bottom of work participation with a miserable 9.2% ratio as seen from the following table.
Work Participation Ratio of Males and Females, by religion (Percent)
Religion Males Females
1 Buddhists 49.2 31.7
2 Christians 50.7 28.7
3 Hindus 52.4 27.4
4 Sikhs 53.3 20.2
5 Muslims 47.5 14.1
6 ains J 55.2 9.2
Besides it is strange to find that in Maharashtra State which has the highest Jain population in India-after Muslim- more than the Christian population- and in which Jaina are a minority the reconstituted Maharashtra State Jain minority students are excluded from pre- and post-matriculation scholarships announced by the Central and State Government
Minority Commission reconstituted on 4th August, 2006 continues to function only with the Chairman and the Vice-chairman. The Jain minority community particularly feels aggrieved because there is no Member in the Commission to voice their grievances.
From the foregoing it is totally incomprehensible why the Jain minority community contiues to be excluded from the National Minority category and why it is excluded from the benefits available to fellow-minorities even in States where Jains are declared as a minority. This is nothing but A STRANGE LOGIC OF CONSTITUTIONAL MINORITY STATUS APARTHEIDII
Recently Dakshin bharat Jain Sabha, a 110 year old Jain organisation in Maharashtra on whose behalf I have been pursuing the Jain minority issue took up a delegation to Delhi to present our case. We had a free and frank discussion with the Union Minority Affairs Minister, Mr.A.R. Antulay,
We wanted to present a Memorandum to Mrs.Sonia Gandhi, President , Indian National Congress but could not make in view of the critical political developments.
However I had the privilege of a personal appointment with the President of India, Mrs.Pratibha Patil to whom I gave a Memorandum on Jain Minority Status.
We hope and trust that the Jain community in gujarat State too will make an earnest appeal for minority status.
Secretary-General, All India Jain Minority Forum, New Delhi,
Ex-Member, Media Expert Committee, Govt. of India,
Ex- Member, Maharashtra State Minority Commission, Govt.of Maharashtra, Mumbai,
Ex-President, National Society for Prevention of Heart Disease & Rehabilitation,
Co-Author: JAINISM (Macmillan Co 1974). with Colette Caillat, (Member Institut de France, Paris,) & A.N.Upadhye, (ex-President, All-India Oriental Conference,)My translation of Dr.Alsdorf’s French Les Etudes Jaina, Etat Present et Taches Futures is edited by Dr.Willem Bollee as Jaina Studies: Their Present State and Future Tasks and published by ((Hindi Granth Karyalay Mumbai,) My translation of Dr.L. Alsdorf’s German Beitraege zur Geschichte von Vegetarismus und Rinderverehrung in Indien-(History of Vegetarianism and Cow Worship in India) is presently being edited for publication (Routledge, London) by Dr. Bollee, Indologist. Participant and speaker in the 7th Jaina Studies Workshop on Jaina Law and Jaina Community, Centre for Jaina Studies, SOAS, University of London, & Dept of Indic Religion, Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, University of Lund. Participated and presented a paper on the Evolution of Sramanic Jain Tradition and Its Impact on Indic Civilisation & Religious Fundamentalism in the XIXth World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religion, Tokyo, Japan, 2005. Author: Supreme Court’s volte face on Constitutional Amendment(Published by Govt. of Maharashtra, 1980)