Minorities in India: Democracy and the Modernisation of Tradition

Migracijske i Etniĉke Teme. 2008;24(3):165-188


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Journal Title: Migracijske i Etniĉke Teme

ISSN: 1333-2546 (Print); 1848-9184 (Online)

Publisher: Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies

LCC Subject Category: Political science: Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration

Country of publisher: Croatia

Language of fulltext: Russian, Serbian, English, French, Croatian

Full-text formats available: PDF



Ružica Čičak-Chand (Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, Zagreb, Croatia)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 25 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

In the context of research into the influence of tradition and the modern on (re)shaping new/ old (ethno-religious, linguistic, caste and other) identities in contemporary India, the specific nature of the Indian situation is examined as well as India's approach to definition and protection of minority rights, based, on the one hand, on the idea of liberal democracy, and on the other, conditioned by its socio-historical heritage. In other words, socio-cultural pluralism in India, founded on the constitutional concept of secularism, has imposed the necessity of adopting a policy that will systematically promote the social and economic interests of the marginalised, and thus minority categories of society, whether their marginality stems from their numbers or their social, economical and/or educational status. Therefore, the Constitution, apart from providing for the protection of the rights and interests of religious, linguistic and/or cultural minorities, also includes protection of the interests of ‘scheduled castes and scheduled tribes’ and other historically underprivileged groups in the population, so that in the Indian context one can speak of two separate groups of minorities. In the paper minority issues are placed within the framework of socio-political reality, which is marked, on the one hand, by the heritage of traditional and exceptionally complex pluralistic structure, and on the other, by the idea of building a political community on the principles of liberal democracy, egalitarian values, secularism and cultural pluralism. Attention is also drawn to those aspects of minority rights which, particularly in more recent times, have led to conflicts between the majority community and the minority communities (for example, on the question of the personal laws of religious minorities, the policy of compensatory discrimination, the special rights of Kashmir, and other); the issue of protection of individual rights within the minority communities (the rights of women, for example) in relation to minorities' collective rights are also considered.