Pritpal Singh Bindra
Recently in a radio phone-in interview relayed to the people in Canada
directly from India, Mr. Ramowalia, the `innovative' Welfare and Labour
Minister of the Government of India, was asked, "You have become Minster
after taking an oath on the Constitution of India. The Constitution
retains the Article 25. Getting together, you along with other five
Akali leaders, have put this Article to fire. Now have you started to
consider this Article as a just measure?"
Mr. Ramowalia replied, "It is like this; at the time putting the Article
25 to fire, I, S. Balwant Singh and S, Parkash Sing Badal, in the
opinion of three of us, we thought we should not burn the Article 25,
this is a wrong step. This gives the Sikhs, Jainis and Bodhis equal
rights. No doubt it deems the background of Hindu Religion but it, also,
accepts the individual status of the Sikhs. I asked it not to be torn.
But they replied, as it puts Jainis and Bodhis at par, it must be torn
off.... When the party had decided... (we) were duty bound and it was
torn. But according to my personal view, even at that time, the Article
25 (2) (b) is not wrong. Now every body has acquiesced to the same and
has sworn on it." (verbatim quote)
To study Mr. Ramowalia's statement in its right perspective we need to
look into the provisions of the Constitution with regard to the
religions and the minorities.
Article 15 (2) states, `No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion,
race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any
disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to:-
"access to shops, public restaurants, hotels, and places of public
"the use wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public
resorts maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to
the use of the general public."
Article 16 (2) mentions, "No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion,
race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be
ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect of, any employment
of office under the state.......
"(5) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any law which
provides that the incumbent of an office in connection with the affairs
of any religious or denominational institution or any member of the
governing body thereof shall be a person professing a particular
religion or belonging to a particular denomination."
Articles 25 hypothesises, "(1) Subject to public order, morality and
health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally
entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess,
practice and propagate religion.
"(2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing
law or prevent the State from making any Law:-
"regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or to
the secular activity which may be associated with religious practice;
"providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of
Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and
sections of Hindu.
"Explanation I.- The wearing and carrying of kirpan shall be deemed to
be included in the profession of the Sikh religion."
"Explanation II. In sub-clause (b) of clause (2), the reference to Hindu
shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the
Sikh, Jains or Budhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious
institutions shall be construed accordingly."
Article 26 specifies, "Subject to public order, morality and health,
every religion denomination or any section thereof shall have the right:-
to establish and maintain institution for religious
and charitable purposes;
"to manage its own affairs in matters of
"to own and acquire moveable and immoveable property;
"to administer such property in accordance with law."
Article 28 pronounces. (1) "No religious instruction
shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out
of the State funds."
Article 29, dealing with minorities says, "Any
section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part
thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall
have the right to conserve the same."
Articles 30 also deals with minorities, "(1) All
minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right
to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice."
Article 329 specifies the election procedure, "There
shall be one general electoral roll for every territorial constituency
for election... and no person shall be ineligible for inclusion in any
such roll or claim to be included in any special electoral roll for any
such constituency on grounds only of religion, race, sex or any of
No doubt the Article 25 (2) (b) (leaving aside
Explanations I and II) was included to reward Dr. Ambedkar, and to woo
the vote-banks held by the Late Shri Jagjiwan Ram. A little addition to
the Article 15 (2) (a) could have easily served the purpose i.e. `access
to shops, public restaurants, hotels, places of public entertainment,
the social and welfare reforms and religious places of a public
character.' (The steps to be taken in respect of the protection and
uplift of down-trodden low castes have been dealt under a few other
articles, any way)
All the Articles (except 25 (2) (b) along with the
Explanations I and II) relating to the religions apply universally;
neither any religion is given priority nor is demeaned. There is no
specific mention of Sunnys, Shaiyas, Catholics or Protestants.
The addition of Explanations I and II was an
intelligent, subtle and clandestine move of the Hindu-mind at the helm
of the power. Particularly for the Sikhs the policy of carrot and stick
emerged with this; whereas the Sikhs, with shallow thinking, were
pleased with the Explanation I, they never fathomed the clever intention
of making them a part of Hinduism. They were, as a matter of fact,
reprimanded, "Forget your `Ham Hindu Nahin'." (Reading this Bhai Kahan
Singh Nabha's soul must be in agony).
Only a few, who were intelligent enough, comprehended
the writing in between the lines and refused to acquiesce to the
contents of the Explanation II at the time. But, unfortunately, even
those were swayed by the temporal gains at the end. The Sikhs along with
Jains and Budhists are made a part of Hindu religion, and their
independent ideologies are decimated.
So far as the Jains and the Budhists, particularly
the Jains, are concerned they have accepted this disgraceful anomaly and
have, willingly, obscured there own independent doctrines; their
participation at the Hindu ritualistic milieus, such as deities worship,
Havanas, Arya Samajic Activities, Goddess Pooja, etcetera is very much
But for the Sikhs to accept the `Explanation II' is
not only detrimental, but also humiliating; it eliminates the Sikhs ever
claiming an independent entity let alone a Nation-hood. It demeans all
the efforts rendered and sacrifices made by Guru Gobind Singh to create
a Sikh Nation.
Whatever prominence Mr. Ramowalia has achieved
(according to his own acknowledgement) has come through the benevolence
of the Akal Purkh and the Tenth Master. To put the creation of Tenth
Master in the lap of the Hinduism is most sacrilegious. The Article 25
(2) (b) is not harmful, as he maintains and he may be right too, but
only if the `Explanation II' is not there.
To earn the blessings of Tenth Master, as he aspires
most of the time, at the least, he can arrange to move an amendment to
delete the derogatory Explanation II.