Jains Debate Non-Hindu Status

June 20, 2006

Source: Hindu Voice


On June 20, 2006 Hindu Voice reported, "Leaders of India's Jain community are currently debating whether or not to accept the Central Government's offer of being reclassified as a non-Hindu minority. Post-Independence, the Supreme Court of India determined that the term 'Hindu' should cover any person following a religion which is indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, because this was the historical meaning of the term Hindu. This definition naturally included Jains as Hindus. However, some Jains had argued for non-Hindu status, saying that they have a very distinct identity and belief system. Others had offered the opposing argument that Hinduism is so diverse in its beliefs and customs, that the individuality of any particular sect has never been threatened. The current Government of India has revived the issue by making an offer of non-Hindu status to Jains. The question of whether a group is Hindu or non-Hindu has significant consequences in Indian law. According to Article 30 of the Indian constitution, non-Hindu groups are entitled to certain benefits that Hindus are not. The most important of these is the exclusive right to run state funded educational institutions free of governmental interference. In light of this, many religious sects that are typically thought of as Hindu have tried to obtain the non-Hindu status in order to be able to obtain state funding for their private institutions."