The Anti-Secular Nature of Article 30
by Adity Sharma on 02 Apr 2014 5 Comments

Swami Vivekananda once said: “Education is the manifestation of perfection already existing in man.” Swamiji traveled the length and breadth of India to awaken the innate thirst for education that extended across social boundaries. He understood the poverty India suffered at the hands of foreign invaders, and boldly strove to spread the message of knowledge.


So, it would have made sense for the post-partition political establishment to administer a system of education that treated all citizens, regardless of creed, equally. But after partition, a peculiarity began to take form. The political establishment, a child of religious imperialism, drafted a Constitution that instead of creating equality, birthed the most noxious type of legally sanctioned inequities between different religious groups. This was rigorously packaged and marketed as secularism.


The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines secular to mean a “separation of religion and the affairs of the State.” Oddly enough the political establishment along with academia in their infinite wisdom still have not read or cared to read this definition.


There are several articles in the Indian Constitution that place religious minorities at an unfair advantage. For the purposes of our discussion, Article 30, which contains clauses on granting land for education to religious minorities, is examined. Article 30 (1) states: “All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.” Article 30 (1)(A) goes onto ensure that right by promising minorities a share of property to administer the institutions.


These clauses are not only the antithesis of any remote semblance to secularism, but create a shocking amount of unequal opportunities in land acquisition for educational institutions. Not only do such articles in the Indian constitution fail to comport with “fair-play and substantial justice,” but erode the very heart of India’s democratic credentials and its professed commitment to secularism. The clause has the potential of spawning corrupt practices which have all but choked India’s economic development and social progress.


Several countries have made efforts to redress wrongs committed in the past. Thus, the Minority Serving Institution is a program sponsored by the United States Department of Interior (DOI). These institutions provide “social and educational” skills to overcome limited economic opportunity. This State initiative is justifiable when weighed against the history of how the US Government has treated racial groups. Blacks were imported from the African continent as slaves who worked under intolerable conditions on plantations; the Native Americans were ruthlessly killed, or pushed from their centuries old dwellings to live on squalid reservations.


On the other hand, India’s largest religious minority, whose ancestors accepted conversion as an alternative to death, now basks in wholly undeserved and unearned privileges, while the Hindu majority is given step-motherly treatment in its own land. To add insult to grievous injury, the religious minorities, instead of striving for integration with the mainstream, have perfected the art of playing victim.


Even if we assume that religious minorities deserve special laws, is Article 30 really making a difference? The literacy rate of Indian Muslims continues to be abysmally low. The literacy figures are consistently low across districts, especially where Muslims form a majority, and where Islamic rule has had the most impact. These unsavory facts do not point to a deficiency in governmental policies and provisions, but to an ideologically motivated hostility by leaders who have always preferred madrasa teaching over secular education.


Article 30 must go; it is as simple as that. If pampering provisions are in place for any community, slothfulness is created, and meritocracy is destroyed. Scholars more qualified than this author have spelled out the flagrant inequity and discrimination contained within this provision. The debates have raged both online and offline.


From the time the Constitution was officially adopted, no political party has come forth to seriously challenge the very anti-secular character of this Article. If India truly wants to be secular, such Articles should not be accommodated. Privileging communities within the nation (the list of minorities has been steadily expanded) is an egregious insult to the basic tenets of secularism. Instead, the government should administer programs that create equal opportunity for all citizens.


As India begins to question so many holy cows, perhaps the turn of some of these constitutional provisions that were imposed by a dominant group will come up for reconsideration.




-     Article 30 of the Indian Constitution" Ministry of Law and Justice. (1-88).doc?Cached (accessed February 4, 2014)

-     Secular Definition, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, (accessed February 1, 2014)

- Minority Serving Institutions, US Department of Interior; (accessed Feb 4, 2014)

-   Chaudhary, Latika and Rubin, Jared, Reading, Writing, and Religion: Institutions and Human Capital Formation (June 1, 2010). Journal of Comparative Economics.
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