The constitution of India guarantees all citizens belonging to any religion or caste equal cultural and educational rights.
Cultural and Educational Rights
India, being a diverse country with a myriad of ethnic backgrounds, religious influence and varied sub-cultures, also have minority groups. Articles 29 to 30 of the Indian Constitution effectively aim to eradicate this problem by making a provision in the article known as ‘Right to Cultural and Educational rights of Minority groups’.
Article 29: Right to Protection of Interests
- The constitution of India ensures equal to all the citizens of India liberty pertaining to conserving their culture, language and script under Article 29 (1).
- This provision simply states that the citizens have the right to preserve their language, heritage and backgrounds and cannot be stifled by major language groups.
- The second right under Article 29 (2), says that ‘no minority groups will be denied admission into any educational system or institution of their choice, and will also not be deprived of any funds from the state purely based on religion, caste or language’.
- In this case, no minority or majority can be denied admission into any state or private institution on the basis of social factors such as language and religion. The institutions have the responsibility of accepting students on the basis of merit and talent, and not on the basis of language, class and religion.
- The institutions also have to make sure that the cultural diversity of the country is well-maintained in the form of multifarious languages and various religious groups.
- Although there appears to be overlapping of provisions in respect to Article 15 (1) and 29 (2), Article 15 (1) is a more general provision stating that there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex, caste and religion. Article 29, however, is more specific pertaining to a particular species of the system in the form of gaining admission into educational systems and getting benefits from state funds like all other citizens.
Article 30: Right to Establish Educational Institutions
Article 30 of the Indian Constitution states that religious and language minorities will have the right to administer and start their own educational institutions. However, no minority, other than the ones suggested in the article will have the right to establish any institution. The second provision, under Article 30 (2) states that, the government will not deny these institutions any state funds or aid on the basis that it is run and managed by minority groups.
Protection of Minority Groups
The government has come with varied laws to help protect the rights of the minorities. The Protection of Civil Rights Act 1989 and the Prevention of Atrocities Act of 1989 are two such acts established by the government. The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions 1992 was set up to look into any grievances lodged by the minorities or any violation of rights. The commission was also set up to advice the state or central government on any matter relating to the protection of educational minority groups by providing reports and suggestions.
The constitution of India safeguards the linguistic and cultural liberty of minorities. The aim of these articles and rights in the constitution is to provide for and protect these minority groups by providing the equality of opportunity and freedom to adhere to individual language, caste, culture and education.