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Modi’s call for UCC an opportunity to fish in troubled waters for narrow partisan ends

By Prof. Sudhanshu Tripathi* 

The recent Uniform Civil Code (UCC) initiative by the Indian PM Narendra Modi has again engendered a clear polarization of almost the entire Muslim community in the country on grounds of interference into their personal laws governed by religious texts and its different interpretations. For them it (the UCC) also violates their long held and so practiced distinct way of life style and religious faith and the related common practices pertaining to marriage, divorce, succession, minority rights etc.
In fact, the proposed UCC has to rationalize some of the most important areas of personal laws with respect to the Muslim and other communities viz. Marriage & Divorce; Adoption & Maintenance Succession & Inheritance; and Minority Rights & Guardianship. Because these have already become very much archaic and even brute in certain respects due to not conforming with the fast changing aspirations and needs of the modern and liberal progressive age in our national, international and global life, interacting with the fast moving globalized world. Today the mobile and internet has become the utmost necessity and the buzz world as well for all, irrespective of caste, religion, region, community, language, region etc..
While the customary laws of the Hindu Community has been reformed continuously with changing requirements ever since the independence of the country, such laws in other communities obviously need to be reformed to make them join the national mainstream so that none may remain deprived of and excluded from the fruits of growth and development. If we look at the years immediately after the independence of India, the Land Ceiling Act, Zamidari Abolition Act and Abolition of the Privy Purse, Abolition of Sati Pratha and more were implemented in the interest of making the country an egalitarian and progressive society for all citizens. And that continues with apace with several such codifications in various areas of necessity like Hindu Succession Act with recent amendment providing for married girl/s to inherit their due share in paternal property at par with her brother/s, Hindu Marriage Act providing for Monogamy and such more.
All these steps were welcomed by the entire countrymen as these were the desirable duty of the state in India. And that is enshrined into Part IV of the Constitution under title Directive Principles of State Policy. Though not justiciable as Part III regarding Fundamental Rights, the aforesaid Part IV directs the state to perform its solemn duty to carry ahead the nation towards the desired trajectory of overall growth and progress while inculcating scientific temper and modern outlook among all citizens thereby leading to a homogeneous, equalitarian and egalitarian society.
That obviously demands bringing the other communities including Muslims, Jains, Buddhist, Sikhs, Christian, Parses and other fringe sections of society in accordance with the above-mentioned goals and objectives so that they can amalgamate with each other to forge a strong bonding thereby leading to a strong and consolidated national whole. However, it doesn’t mean that their personal preferences and likings based on religion, customs and conventions including language and dialect, dress, food and drink and community entertainments etc. will be sacrificed for the sake of national unity. In fact, that will add beauty to the consolidated whole as unity in diversity.
The unity in diversity is well-enshrined into our Constitution and that reflects the sagacity and visionary goals of our founding fathers in the Constituent Assembly who passionately championed the cause of national unity and social solidarity, that the evolving Indian nation has to consistently go through amidst stark dissimilarities and differences on aforesaid grounds among different communities constituting India as a nation.
That obviously brings into forefront the question of tradition and modernity with each struggling with the other ever since independence. But it has never damaged out national unity so far in any way howsoever and that will never happen in future: thanks to the wisdom of our founding fathers. Indeed, this looks as the glaring philosophy behind the proposed UCC that all other communities including Muslims must understand as that inevitably comes into the way of the nation building process. Indeed the modern and progressive-liberal societies of today like England, France, Germany, America and more have already passed through such traumatic experiences that India is undergoing through.
Thus all Indian citizens, particularly Muslims, must come forward to make the country strong and consolidated as a modern and progressive nation, instead of remaining entrapped into obscure and orthodox religious and communal moorings, being interpreted and dictated by the hardliner elements in their communities. These hardliners don’t want to let the community progress and prosper as a modern-rational-social grouping of progressive citizens just for their own vested interests due to claiming themselves to be the harbinger of the community for accomplishing overall prosperity and well-being.
Unfortunately the unholy nexus between these self-imposed harbingers and partisan political parties in the country has already wrecked-havoc by sowing the seeds of antagonism between two communities either in the form of appeasement or deliberately engendering infightings or communal riots during the past many decades, so as draw political mileage to win elections. This has unfortunately become a common fashion among political parties in India which are consistently reaping the dividends arising due to mutual differences between the two communities and others as well.
Against this backdrop, PM Modi’s clarion call for the UCC has again provided them a much desired opportunity to fish in troubled waters to realize their narrow and partisan political interests, while keeping an eye over the forthcoming Parliamentary Elections in 2024. This must be stopped forthwith by the collective efforts of We the People of India by overcoming their narrow or petty interests arising due to differences in caste, community, religion, region etc, as these are contrary to the reasons and rationale behind the UCC as well as the Constitution of India. This may happen as nothing is beyond human endeavour.
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*Political Science, MDPG College, Pratapgarh (UP)

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