Who hasn’t heard the saying that we are all equal before the law! But do you know that certain laws, rules and regulations apply differently for the majority community? However, Hindus do not even have the right to manage their own religious institutions, but that is a story for some other day. Today we shall speak of the right of the Indian Hindus to manage their educational institutions. 

As per article 30 (1) of the constitution:

“All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”

To understand the background which led to the framing of article 30 in its present form, we need to go back to the Second Round Table Conference way back in 1931. The Indian Christian representatives wanted the preferential treatment given to them by the British government to remain even after Independence. So, they removed “equal rights for all religions” from their memorandum! Can you believe it?

So, who are the religious minorities? Before 1950, it was just Muslims, Christians and Parsis. Now we have also included Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains in that list as well. Basically, it’s every other religion minus the Hindus, where 201 million Muslims are still termed “minority”. Even if in certain states, a religion is in majority, like the Sikhs in Punjab, they would still be considered as minority.

However, article 30 is also extended to linguistic minorities. So, in West Bengal, a school with 4 or 5 of its board members from the Telugu community will be termed as a linguistic minority school giving ample scope for corruption. 

The minority-run institutions have an absolute autonomy to select their teachers without having to follow any rules or norms with just one caveat, i.e., the process should be transparent. We all know how subjective and ambiguous that caveat can be. Moreover, they can appoint teachers for any subject based on their religious preferences, but any Indian Hindu-run school cannot do that. In fact, they cannot even teach religious education in these schools whereas the minority institutions can. This is the reason Hindus are still far behind, especially when it comes to the religious knowledge of their children. 

Oh, the misery of Indian Hindu-run schools is not yet over. They are bound by numerous other rules like mandatory infrastructure like sports and play equipment, the compulsory establishment of libraries, setting up of school management committees with 75 per cent representation from parents etc. But none of them is mandatory for minority institutions, giving them greater flexibility to function in their schools at a much lower cost. However, if there is any complaint of mismanagement, the state appoints an administrator for a school run by a majority community but no prizes for guessing who is exempted from this rule! 

This excessive control of the government is forcing the Hindu-run institutions to close. It is extremely difficult for them to take any management decision without the permission of the government. We have repeatedly seen Christian-run institutions get an unfair advantage in the education sector. They had already been historically advantaged from the British and that needs to stop now. Hindu-run institutions have always been historically disadvantaged, and this calls for some positive affirmation programmes for them.

The Christian institutions also receive huge funds from the churches, yet most of them still are partially funded by the government. This kind of partiality is weakening the Hindus spiritually and culturally. A piece of evidence for this is the Ramakrishna Mission. Authorities from this organisation had been repeatedly petitioning from the 1980s that they were not Hindus, just to be saved from excessive government control!

In no country around the globe will we find such discrimination against their majority community. Despite the known forced conversions of our indigenous communities, we still favour these minority institutions. We chose to ignore their dubious acts and allow them to set up educational empires which openly preach their religion and support forced conversions. Why are we blind to them? We give them all the benefits and exemptions but for schools that preach our culture and heritage, we subject them to extreme control so that they choke and finally shut down their schools. So, the time has come to change this. We need to undo this for our own future. I hope and pray that this situation changes soon.  

About Abhinav Khare

Abhinav Khare is the CEO of Asianet News Network and also the host of a daily show named Deep Dive with AK. He has a lifetime collection of books and gadgets and has already pinged more than hundred cities around the globe. 

He is a tech entrepreneur, who is passionate about policy, technology, economy and philosophy from ancient India. He earned an MS Engineering from the ETH Zurich and an MBA Finance from the London Business School.