Common Civil Code : the Only Effective Way to Keep Peace in a Diverse Society
India today is suffering from a great crisis in terms of management of minorities. Each section demands more and more freedoms and rights, while giving nothing in return to the country itself. Each respective government has followed the policy of appeasement for the sake of votes and as a result, the problem has come to a point that the majority has to suffer so that minorities are happy. Is there an easy solution to this problem? If we look around at other nations, we can get our answer. In fact if we look into our own ancient history, we still get the same answer.
First let us look at how other nations around the world manage their minorities. In most countries of the middle-east, Sharia is the law, and in accordance with that only the Muslims are the first-class citizens with any civil rights, everyone else is a second-class citizen. They are welcome as long as they fulfill their work-quotas and don’t mess with the social laws, the moment they do, they receive severe punishment, ranging from public whipping, arrest, hanging or deportation. Some cases come to light, most are not even made public. But the truth of the matter is that in this manner they are able to efficiently run their country without any disruption to the life of the locals.
Among the western countries, once again the rules are strict for the immigrants. They have to follow the same civil code as the rest of the society, they cannot claim, ‘oh, I come from a different background, where customs of society are different and thus you have to let me follow them’. No, that is just not allowed, You have to follow the law of the land. Inside your home, you can do what you want, but as long as you are interacting with the rest of the society, you have to assimilate. For the Muslims in many nations, Burka or even Hijab has been outlawed as it interferes with the security of the nation. The Muslims are not allowed to marry multiple times either, as it is against the marriage laws there.
Now if we come to India, we see an entirely different picture. We see that there is a different code of conduct just for the minorities, in name of minority rights. They can dress up how they want, where they want, no matter if it spells disaster for security. They can marry as many as four times, no matter if it spells disaster for the already burgeoning population. They can run their own schools, no matter if they choose to teach outdated lessons from a distant land there. In short, they can run their own separate country within our country. Similar policies are applicable in case of others like the christian missionaries. And what is the end result? We have a deeply divided society that is always held hostage by the tantrums of various groups. We have no say in our own country about how to keep our society homogeneous and running smoothly.
Why can’t we just follow what is a successful model in other nations? Are we so very unique and special that a different model is needed for us. A country like America, which prides itself in being the melting pot of the world. which successfully takes in large number of immigrants from various cultures, is able to bring them all under one banner by enforcing same rules of law on everyone. There are no special concessions. The official language remains same for all no matter where you are coming from; you and your children have to adapt to it. They will help you by providing you with free or discounted classes, they will help you in every possible manner. But only to assimilate, not to stand apart.
Even if we think that we are a special case, that our culture requires us to be hospitable etc, we can look into our own history and draw lessons from there. I recently came across a section in Harivansh Puran (A history of the Early Indians between 10,000 B.C. and 5,000 B.C).
In Chapter 1, verse 14, there is the reference of many foreign invaders (Shak, Yavan, Kaamboj, Pahnav and Paarad) who had taken over territories inside India and had settled down there. They ousted the erstwhile king Baahu, who went into the forest and died there. His pregnant wife found protection in the ashram of Rishi Aurav, and gave birth to a son named Sagar. The Rishi trained Sagar and gave him the knowledge of the Fire-Weapon (aagney-astr). When of age, Sagar went to reclaim his kingdom, and started killing the foreign settlers mercilessly. They escaped and ran to Rishi Vashishth for protection. The Rishi brokered a deal with the king on their behalf, but not without a promise first. He told them that they had to give up their foreign way of life and become Aarya if they want to stay in India. Sagar took care that their assimilation was carried out properly – they learned to dress, talk, and behave like Aaryas and that is the only way they were given a place in the society. After that there was no trouble either from them or to them.
All these examples show us one common truth that assimilation is the only way for a society to function successfully. Regional diversity is a good thing, it adds to the flavor of life, but the ethical code by which we live must be the same. When people with opposite sets of code try to live side by side, there is bound to be disharmony. It does not mean that people should give up their way of worship, as that is a very personal choice, but they have to assimilate to a common code in all social spheres, whether it is food, clothing or marriage-laws. Every citizen must exhibit an apparent will to work towards the betterment of the country.
We must weed out the mindset where people settle here, but their loyalty lies elsewhere as dictated by their religious leaders. No religious law should take priority over the national law. Only then we can find prosperity again as a people. And the fruits of this harmony will not only be sweet for one section of the society, but to all. If we all equally participate in the peacekeeping process, when progress happens, it will happen for all equally too.
By G Mittal in indiaopines blog