‘India can teach world on minority rights’

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New Delhi, Oct 5 (IANS) On the issue of minority rights in a democracy, India can be the teacher of the world, said an academic on Wednesday.

Professor Peter Ronald DeSouza of Delhi University said this while delivering the 9th Annual Lecture on ‘Minority Rights and Democracy in India’ organised by the National Minorities Commission here.

“As the world struggles with working out the moral, legal, and social terms of the majority-minority relationship India’s engagement with this question, since the last 70 years, constitutes a valuable global intellectual resource,” DeSouza said.

DeSouza said that three key ideas emerge from this debate on minority rights. The first that cultural and religious plurality is an asset to a nation and not a threat, a bold argument to be made after partition when the sense of the house was overwhelmingly for strong integration.

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The second is that cultural autonomy must be allowed, the protective argument, so that individuals can develop their personalities to the fullest using their cultural resources.

And the third is to give this belief constitutional and not just statutory status.

“In the mixed picture about the position of minorities (primarily religious minorities) India stands out as a shining path to follow. I am not saying that things are wonderful in India, since much more needs to be done, but that we compare favourably with our neighbours.

“We have the architecture in place from which a robust practice of protecting minority rights can be built. For this we need the imagination and we need the will. India can indeed be the teacher of the world,” he said.

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