Thursday, October 31, 2002
The Hindu has more to say on Jayalalitha's bill:
Although the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, maintained that the Bill was only intended to prevent forcible conversions, her arguments in the course of the three-hour debate were against conversion itself. "Conversions create resentment among several sections and also inflame religious passions, leading to communal clashes."
Interestingly, the article continues:
Soon after the Congress floor leader, S.R. Balasubramaniam, moved the disapproval motion against the ordinance on forcible conversions, the DMK whip, E. Pugazhendi, asked the Chief Minister to name the "anti-socials and vested interests trying to exploit the depressed classes" as mentioned in the explanatory note to the Bill. As the Bill banned conversions through the grant of "material benefits either monetary or otherwise", even the reservation and other benefits offered by the State Government to the Dalits, which ensured their continuance in Hinduism, could be construed as illegal and Ministers could be proceeded against.
In the meanwhile, the Indian Express carries this open letter to the Supreme Court from JNU Professor Pratap B. Mehta:
posted by Kensy |
The way that the Court has legitimised forces that it ought not to have any truck with can be given a name: partisanship towards the moral credentials of one religion over those of others, and a religious paternalism towards the citizens. The first, partisanship, has been repeatedly expressed in the Court’s claim in many judgments that Hinduism is a uniquely pluralistic, democratic and tolerant religion.
This may or may not be true. But I would humbly submit that the Court should not be in the business of defining what the essential characteristics of any religion are; these are a matter for historical and theological argument.
By suggesting that Hinduism is, in some senses morally privileged the court has given needless succour to those who would paradoxically use Hinduism’s supposedly tolerant qualities to beat up on other religions, particularly Islam and Christianity.