That recent Uniform Civil Code (UCC) initiative by PM Modi has indeed stirred up the hornet’s nest. There is a clear polarization of almost the entire Muslim community in India, divided into numerous sects and sub-sects, against the proposed Code on the grounds of interference with their laws and violating their long-held and so practiced distinct way of lifestyle and religious faith and the related standard practices about marriage, divorce, succession, minority rights, etc.
The proposed UCC has to rationalize some of the most critical areas of personal laws concerning Muslims 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 internet has become the utmost necessity and buzzword for all, irrespective of caste, religion, community, language, region, etc.
While the customary laws of the Hindu Community have been reformed continuously with changing requirements ever since the independence of the country, such laws in other communities 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, Zamindari 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 the Hindu Succession Act with a recent amendment providing for married girl/s to inherit their due share in the paternal property at par with her brother/s, Hindu Marriage Act providing for Monogamy and much more.
Though not keeping a direct connection with the UCC yet supporting the rationale behind it, the provisions of the Right to Information and Right to Education are the much-needed progressive laws to let the citizens accomplish the accruing benefits of socio-economic progress and prosperity instead of remaining rooted into retrograde and archaic customs and traditions. This is why the Prevention of Untouchability and Abolition of Titles were purposefully incorporated into the Constitution of India as Art. 17 and 18, respectively, with this view in hand.
The entire fellow citizens welcomed all these steps as these were the desirable duty of the state in India. And that is enshrined in Part IV of the Constitution under Directive Principles of State Policy. Though not justiciable as Part III regarding Fundamental Rights, 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 a scientific temper and modern outlook among all citizens, thereby leading to a homogeneous, equalitarian and egalitarian society.
That demands bringing the other communities, including Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians, Parses, and other fringe sections of society, by the goals mentioned above and objectives so that they can amalgamate with each other to forge a strong bonding, thereby leading to a solid and consolidated national whole. However, it doesn’t mean their personal preferences and likings based on religion, customs, and conventions, including language and dialect, dress, food and drink, and community entertainment, will be sacrificed for national unity. 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 grounds above among different communities constituting India as a nation.
That brings the question of tradition and modernity to the forefront, with each struggling with the other ever since independence. But it has never damaged our national unity so far in any way howsoever and that will never happen in the future: thanks to the wisdom of our founding fathers. Indeed, this is 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, today’s modern and progressive-liberal societies, like England, France, Germany, America, and more, have already passed through such traumatic experiences that India is undergoing.
Thus all Indian citizens, particularly Muslims, must come forward to make the country vital 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 and orthodox Mullahs and Maulvis and the religious heads of other religions. These hardliners don’t want to let the community progress and prosper as a modern-rational-social grouping of progressive citizens just for their vested interests due to claiming themselves to be the precursor 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 wreaked 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. Hence, as it draws political mileage to win elections in India, it is consistently becoming a common fashion among political parties to increasingly reap the political 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 golden opportunity to encash their narrow and partisan political interests while watching the forthcoming Lok Sabha Elections in 2024. This must be stopped immediately as contrary to the philosophy and vision of the UCC and the Indian Constitution.