12 May, 2021

The Tyranny Of Identity By Decree

The beauty of a sociologically porous entity, with free individuals, has been spoilt

The Tyranny Of Identity By Decree

As a Jain, I am aghast at the Union cabinet’s decision to grant the community minority status. This decision exemplifies just how confused and opportunistic the discourse on minority rights has become. A state should be judged by how well it protects minorities; no one should be targeted for simply being who they are. But the state is engaging in an active process of minoritisation that has nothing to do with protection of basic rights. The Jains are amongst the most privileged and prosperous communities in India. They are not targets of persecution or violence. They do not suffer by not having minority status. Their cultural identity will not in any way be endangered if they do not have minority status.

Indeed, the opposite argument can be made. The government’s proposal on Jains ought to be diminishing to Jains in so many respects. They are free-riding on a historical discourse of vulnerability to which they are not entitled, and they are letting the state define their identity. It is absolutely astonishing that traditions whose whole raison d’etre is...

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