Why is There Resistance to the Uniform Civil Code in India?

JudgesOne land. One law. Doesn’t it make sense? We have one singular criminal law for the entire country, so why not the same for civil matters? If each religious community would to have its own set of laws how would law and order prevail in totality? A young girl is repeatedly raped by her father in law and the community court orders the girl to marry the old pervert. what kind of a law is this? These religious laws like the Sharia mostly cover the issues of marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance, remarriage and maintenance. The British were responsible for creating these different laws. The Hindu laws of those times had rigid laws which did not allow widows to remarry and forbade women to inherit any kind of wealth. As per Muslim laws, a woman after divorce has no right over her husband’s wealth in any way, but Shah Bano became the first woman to challenge this law in 1985 and demanded that she be equally compensated by her husband. While the BJP has always been a strong advocate of a uniform civil code, Left too has supported it, but the Congress and Muslim personal law board have always vehemently opposed it.

The burning issue here is that the minority communities of India have always been the subject of appeasement politics. It is for this reason that since India became independent, the Muslim community saw little progress. Sir Syed wanted every Muslim to be educated, to live a life of dignity and contentment, but communal politics shattered his dreams. Jawaharlal Nehru started the new government of India with some good intentions, he wanted a uniform civil code but his resolve was too short lived and he eventually succumbed to appeasement politics.

Then Babasaheb Ambedker suddenly started finding flaws with Hinduism. He went on to call Mahatma Gandhi a staunch Hindu, who did not practice what he preached. Ambedkar in a radio interview during the 80’s had said that Gandhi was too much of a Hindu deep down his heart. Ambedkar asserted that the writings Gandhiji wrote in Gujarati were completely different when translated in English. So, Ambedkar initiated an all new religion. An old acquaintance of mine, a very fine fashion designer based in Goa once told me on phone – “I shudder to go to Bombay since it became Mumbai.” I wonder where am I living? Will this fear psychosis among the non Hindu communities of India ever dissipate? Where has this fear psychosis come from? Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a young parliamentarian then had told Nehru – “You are a man with double standards”. Nehru knew what to do but somehow retracted himself with the fear of losing his popularity among the other communities.

The US has more than 6 million Jews and people of so many other communities but they still have a uniform civil code, so do the UK and Australia, and the minority communities in these countries have never rebelled against one civil law. According to Dr. Subramaniam Swamy, he had once asked Mulayam Singh Yadav when would he step out of appeasement politics and start developmental politics to which Yadav had replied that if he does not practice appeasement politics he will lose his Muslim vote. The victim psychology among minority communities has taken a terrible form. Asaduddin Owaisi and his brother Akbaradduin Owaisi continue to make inflammatory speeches and entice Muslims. Akbarudin, in one of his hate speeches had said- “We have to replace all the saffron colour flags with green flags”. Don’t both these gentlemen realize that we Indians are proud of all the colours that make our nation so beautifully diverse. It is the misfortune of India that democracy has been reduced to a number game and so many regional parties with their own vindictive agendas are using people as pawns for their political interests.

Talking about a uniform Civil Code, let us remind ourselves of those debauched laws that have humiliated talented writers like Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen. The problem in India is that most of its people have taken religion way too seriously and have failed to recognize the underlying message of the religion. If the Supreme Court of India has called Hindutva a way of life, in no way does it imply that the existence of other religions shall be null and void. Is important to rise from the dogmas of religion and understand that India is too diverse a country to have laws that are dictated by religions. A uniform civil code will be of great benefit in stabilizing the civil law system of India. Law being dictated by religion itself is a big defeat for democracy. The Government must have a zero tolerance attitude towards religious bigotry and condemn every such act.

It is high time that Indians embrace a Uniform Civil Code, irrespective of religion, creed and caste. Minority communities of India need to understand that India is at the helm of becoming a huge world power. A Uniform Civil Code will make us only stronger and help us overcome the fears that have been embedded in our minds since our country became independent. The British made separate laws for separate communities because it fitted their “divide and rule” policy and then came appeasement politics based on religion where our surname became our permanent identity. Acclaimed writer and novelist Amitav Ghosh said in a television interview that he saw the rise of Hindu nationalism as a potential threat to the peace and harmony of India. Well ! Mr. Ghosh, how can nationalism be a threat to people of its own country, a country where people of all religions live. Even Christians and Muslims should join in the cause of nationalism and the law of land should be unifying and dictated by one single code. Isn’t it just that simple!

Source: The Indian Republic