India was a land of ‘a million mutinies’, found Nobel laureate VS Naipaul. A whole new mutiny is shaping up right at the heart of the nation now with the management of a Bengali Senior Secondary School on Shyam Nath Marg in New Delhi ecently declaring itself a Linguistic Minority Institution and started printing the same on its stationary and school bags, allegedly to use this self-proclaimed status to give reservation to students and teaching staff.
Parents and guardians of students approached Delhi Minorities Commission for action on this development which, they believe, will affect the standard and climate in this school in an attempt to nip the mutiny in the bud
However, this threw up a complete new discussion on the way we look at the issue of linguistic minority status in India. Apparently, the principal rationale for State-specific minorities rests on the idea that the linguistic reorganisation of States necessitates that they be treated as the basic unit for determination of minorities.
As both linguistic and religious minorities are covered under Article 30 of Indian constitution, both sets of minorities have to be State-specific. The linguistic reorganisation of States meant that, for the purpose of Article 30, linguistic minorities had to be determined in relation to the State because their language was not one of the official languages; other minorities are those whose mother tongue is an official language but who live outside the State(s) where the language is official.
In this sense, the linguistic reorganisation of States has a definite bearing on linguistic minorities because protection under Article 30 is available not only to the linguistic minorities sharing the major languages of the States, but also to speakers of the numerous languages that are not represented by any particular State on its own.
As regards religious minorities, linguistic reorganisation should not really matter in the exercise of their right to set up educational institutions of their choice or seek admission in such institutions or the exercise of other minority rights.
In comparison to linguistic minorities, for whom the official language matters, there is no congruence between religious identity and State boundaries. For protection under Article 30, linguistic minorities make claims upon the States rather than the Centre.
Such a State-specific conception of minorities will result in distortions in minority rights. And the issue of a Bengali school’s mutinyfor linguistic minority status can not easily be swept under the carpet.
However, the parents and guardians of the Bangali Senior Secondary School complained that there is no such thing as “Linguistic Minority institution” because there are only six recognised religious minorities in the country. Only their institutions get minority status from the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions. Moreover, the said school receives 95 percent grant from Delhi Govt.
The District Metropolitan Court has issued notices to the principal of the school and Director of Education, Delhi Government, to explain if there is such a thing as a “Linguistic Minority Institution” and, if yes, did the said school secure it/>