Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Article 25 and Admissible Belief Systems

Article by Pankaj

The Constitution of India gives fundamental rights to its citizens, vide article 25 – The right to a) freedom of conscience, b) profess, practice and propagate religion.

25. (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, practise and propagate religion.

(2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation

of any existing law or prevent the State from making

any law—

(a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial,

political or other secular activity which may be

associated with religious practice;

(b) providing for social welfare and reform or the

throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a

public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.

However, there are certain religions or religious systems / institutions, which do NOT give to its followers the right to their belief or conscience. One MUST Believe in the system, a certain God, etc. More specifically, its followers MUST subjugate their conscience to their specific religious principles, which are not just some principles but more specifically religious dogma. This is exemplified by those systems which themselves claim to 'harvest the souls' of the persons and keep it in the 'custody' of the ecclesiastical authority, rather than let it remain where it originally, naturally and rightfully belongs – as the conscience of the person, with the person.

[An aside – that there are fundamental differences in the systems is a known fact. As an example, it is a judgement of the High court that the Hindu marriage is a 'sacrament' whereas the christian or islamic marriages are a 'contract'.]

Moreover, not only does it not approve of any of its followers the right to freely practice and modify or even change his / her beliefs, it goes further so as to DENY this right. There are religions / systems which go even beyond a Denial of the right. The followers who do so may be excommunicated or sentenced with death, as per the beliefs and practices of such systems. As an example, not believing in Allah but some other God, or the prophet, may be heresy or apostasy, punishable with death in Islam. Similarly, the church denies its followers the right to move out of the system at all or practice varying or other beliefs, even within the christian fold.

The above are not some kind of restrictions or peer pressure, rather they are a matter of principle and practice, which is enforced by such systems. Hence, such religions or institutions not only abrogate the fundamental rights of Citizens, who happen to be its followers, they go further so as to deny the most fundamental and basic 'right', existence itself. Thereafter, they go even further, to the extreme, by punishing with death. Moreover, in doing so, it assumes for itself an extra judicial and extra constitutional authority – note.

Hence, the Constitution cannot explicitly or implicitly recognize, or allow to operate, Institutions or systems connected to or depending on such belief systems.

The other rights, to minority rights for example, do not explicitly specify which kind of Religions or their allied institutions in particular are allowed or not – surely they cannot be any of those which deny or abrogate the fundamental rights, or as a matter of principle may deny the right to exist (by means of the death penalty) itself.

As the State can legislate on the secular aspects of any religious institutions or rights, the State can ask any such institution to give an explicit undertaking that it does NOT deny or abrogate any fundamental rights of the citizens. Surely those propagating christianity or islam, or allied institutions doing any social service, cannot be permitted. Note that the citizens who are the followers finally do not have any say in this matter but rather it is the church or clergy / mullahs who have the authority in their respective systems.

In other words, if such (allied) institutions want to operate at all, it is the church or ulema which must declare that they themselves permit the right to conscience / belief, practice and worship freely. More specifically, they must permit the right of their followers to convert out of their belief systems into others, freely, as a matter of principle.

Also, the right to convert, or freely practice any belief system, of a citizen, has an obvious Fundamental

Limitation – they cannot convert into a system which itself abrogates the fundamental rights of the citizen him / herself. So the constitution cannot recognize conversion into christianity or islam for that matter, or even recognise the two religions, or christians and muslims, as the fundamental nature of the constitution itself would be changed (refer the Keshavananda Bharati case), if it does so.

The constitution obviously recognizes the Hindu family of religions, which do NOT abrogate the Fundamental Rights of the citizens to freely believe, practice or worship but THEMSELVES GRANT this right.

Any admissible system per the constitution must obviously not deny or abrogate or murder any Fundamental Rights. Any exercise of the right to change / convert or practice his / her beliefs cannot be into a system which itself abrogates the Fundamental Rights. Suicide and murder are not allowed as a fundamental limitation of the right to freedom.

It is not just ultra vires, ab initio void but also in direct contradiction and opposition to the fundamental nature of the constitution itself and the existence of a citizen as a citizen, along with his / her Fundamental Rights.

Some of the major problems we face as a nation are because we do not recognize this fact.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ambedkar's conclusions on Shudras - are they valid?

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar was a scholar. He studied scriptures and came out with the following 10 conclusions about various aspects of Varnashrma and status of Shudras. Are they valid conclusions? Here is a debate.

What is the position of Shudra in the social order?
BRA summarises that the Shudra was to take the last place in the social order.

Is Shudra impure?
BRA summarises that Shudra was impure and therefore no sacred act should be done within his sight and within his hearing.

Should Shudra be not shown respect?
BRA summarises that the Shudra is not to be respected in the same way as the other classes.

Is life of a Shudra less valuable compared to others?
BRA summarises that the life of a Shudra is of no value and anybody may kill him without having to pay compensation and if at all of small value as compared with that of the Brahmana, Kshatriya and Vaishya.

Should Shudras be denied of Education?
BRA summarises that the Shudra must not acquire knowledge and it is a sin and a crime to give him education.

Should Shudras not be allowed to acquire property?
BRA summarises that a Shudra must not acquire property. A Brahmin can take his property at his pleasure.

Should Shudras be denied of holding public office?
BRA summarises that a Shudra cannot hold office under the State.

Should Shudra serve higher classess as a means of attaining salvation?
BRA summarises that the duty and salvation of the Shudra lies in his serving the higher classes.

Could other varnas keep a Shudra woman as a concubine?
BRA summarises that the higher Classes must not inter-marry with the Shudra. They can however keep a Shudra woman as a concubine But if the Shudra touches a woman of the higher classes he will be liable to dire punishment.

Should Shudra be kept in servility forever?
BRA summarises that the Shudra is born in servility and must be kept in servility for ever.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

medsyn policy statement on freedom of expression

media.syndicate always committed to support free speech and healthy discussion. We dont censor writings of the authors of the syndicated blog. It is a policy and we are serious about it.

media.syndicate is not owned by its chief editor(s) or the owner(s) of the site / blog. It is not meant to promote a particular ideology. Not that we dont have values - or that they can not be articulated. This only means that our values are not codified (or inflexible). We dont choose this occasion - in the aftermath of the statement of samalochaka that he has resigned - to reiterate or explain our policy. We dont react - we take actions proactively. We continue our policy of supporting free expression of authors of the syndicated blog.

So far, penname Samalochaka was used to publish analysis of issues of current affairs. medsyn blog continues to publish similar writings in the future too. Old Samalochaka has suggested media syndicate to continue the same penname. We are not averse. We are not sure - whether it will be one or a group of Samalochakas, a Newsamalochaka or some other name. Whether it will be on medsyn blog or a new blog - media syndicate has ready made framework to support any of these options. Whatever it is, media syndicate readers will not miss news analysis.

media.syndicate will also evolve its policy on blog posting and add new features in future and publish it to all the authors of the syndicated blog.