Why I, As A Jain, Don’t Want To Be Termed A ‘Minority’

Posted on January 23, 2014 in Human Rights, Society, Taboos

By Mayank Jain: 

In politics, an organized minority is a political majority.”- Jesse Jackson

This day and age of coalition politics and short lived sentiments of the public at large, makes it pretty challenging for a government to hold on to its position. The UPA is staring at one of the toughest polls ever, and definitely these desperate times called for desperate measures. The party can’t be criticized on this ground as they are doing their best to secure some extra votes in May when the elections happen and it is quite a given that the most populist will survive.

jainsJains are no exception to the vote bank politics which has now become the standard tactic to achieve the throne all over this country, by different means and ways ranging from caste based tickets for elections to reservation for certain communities. The decision that came from the Union Cabinet to grant the Jain community the status of a “national minority” is the latest move in the same direction.

While the community is busy celebrating it and I noticed a certain amount of happiness in my family as well as other friends who share the same surname; I am a little saddened on how we have descended to granting every other religious community the status of a ‘minority’ because that will help ‘protect their interests’. Jains are the sixth one to be included into the group which already had Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis. The status allows them special attention in budget allocation as well as constitutional safeguards.

It wasn’t long before the report came in media that other Hindu groups have started preparing to demand a minority status for themselves too. The problem with granting everyone a minority status is that there won’t be too much space left for a majority to prevail in the country. While securing someone the opportunities he/she requires to be on the equal footing with others is justified, victimizing just about any other community because it ‘desires special attention’ is just another lowly attempt to secure votes and appreciation from the communities.

If we do assume that the communities need attention and provide them minority status, then all the government will try to do before every election is just to provide some reservation to the minorities and then some more until we are left with nothing for the ‘general’ people. A characteristic of every progressive society is raising equality among different demographics and communities and not reservations just on the basis of their surnames. We need equal opportunities and support for people with weak economic backgrounds than weak surnames. And while the issue of reservation is debatable, the implications of converting every community into a minority are clear enough.

Speaking of Jains, there are 3 sub divisions in the religion who have different rituals and different beliefs altogether and they might demand autonomy for themselves tomorrow which might help ‘digambars’, shvetambars’, and ‘pitambars’ become minority communities in themselves and while this might be of zero real benefit to the already prosperous and literate community, it will nevertheless fuel dissatisfaction in many other communities. One’s achievement will fuel other’s ambitions and the parties are only too happy to play the community card to get an extra chance to remain in power to discriminate further.

I would have been happier had the government announced some new universities or abolished a few reservations, kept them open to all on the basis of merit and completely free for the disadvantaged sections. No matter how much pride and happiness this brings to my parents or the members of this community, but a surname can take you only so much far no matter how many seats are reserved for you.

We all must wake up from the illusions and myths about getting recognized or achieving special status for ourselves, because no one wants to live in a country with majority of communities recognized as ‘minorities’, or do you?

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