[dropcap]T[/dropcap]aslima Nasreen flickered for Uniform Civil Code, saying that the measure was “urgently” needed to empower people with their rights. Even Vishva Hindu Parishad along with like-minded organizations time and again asked for the implementation of same Uniform Civil Code. However, being as a secular and democratic country implementing such laws is impossible. Nevertheless, here question arises ‘are we really a secular country? Secular country means when we are officially neutral in matters of religion or supporting neither religion nor irreligion. Do we practice what we are known for?
The laws are different for different religions in same matters. For example, there are differences in laws of marriage, divorce and even inheritance. We see that because of these diversities in the legal systems. There is no uniformity that prevails when it comes to personal laws. The aim of this uniform code is to streamline the personal laws and to ensure that the laws treat every person equal, irrespective of the religion it preaches and the sect it belongs. The proposed legislation is aimed to replace personal laws of various communities on marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption, and maintenance.
If government has guts to implement Uniform Civil Code(UCC), then it should promote ‘real secularism’. Today, we have selective secularism which practices in some part of the country. A UCC doesn’t mean it will limit the freedom of people to follow their religion, it means that every person will be treated as the same under one Constitution. It will give more rights to women and help them for improving their condition. Our society is extremely patriarchal and misogynistic. UCC will help in changing these age-old traditions that have no relevance in today’s society. Today is the era, we should understand that women should be treated fairly and given equal rights.
UCC is the sign of modern progressive nation. It is a sign that the nation has moved away from caste and religious politics. While, our economic growth has been the highest in the world; our social growth has stalled. In fact, we can say that socially and culturally we are degraded to a level where we are neither in modern nor in traditional category. Basically, various personal laws are a loophole to be exploited by the people in power. Panchayats continue to deliver judgements that are against our constitution and we are not doing anything about it. Human rights are violated through honour killings and female foeticide throughout the country. By allowing personal laws, we have constituted an alternate judicial system that still operates on thousands of years old values. A uniform civil code would change that.
UCC will also help in reducing vote bank politics that most political parties indulge in during every election. If all religions are covered under the same laws, the politicians will have less to offer to certain minorities in exchange of their vote. Not having a uniform civil code is detrimental to true democracy and that has to be changed. Such implementations will help us in integrating India more than it has ever been since independence. Lot of animosity is caused by preferential treatment to certain religious communities and this can be avoided by UCC. It will help in bringing every Indian, despite his caste, religion or tribe, less than one national civil code of conduct.
Secularism does not mean only “freedom of religion acceptance” but also respect to all religions. This is what, Indian Constitutions guarantees but unfortunately both are not available. Right of Speech or Freedom of Expression could not be bigger than humanity. We have totally messed over the mixed up religious observance and political sensitivity with orthodox religiosity and intolerance. Till the time Constitution prevails, no politics will ever be successful in undermining secularism in long term. Yes we have grave issues like untouchability, but they will be overcome – we need sense of political and social maturity. General class masses are educated now. Though, India’s constitution declares it as a Secular democracy and guides the lawmakers to develop and encourage scientific temperament of the citizens, politicians have always played to the religious galleries. However, political parties that want to implement Uniform Civil Code are trying to promote teaching of pseudo-sciences like astrology and medical benefits of cow urine. Any progressive, modern ideas and practices that try to challenge these obscurantist attitudes are readily labelled as “Corrupting Western Influences”. The way things are, I do not see any hope even from current and next generations, because, even the most scientifically literate professionals like doctors and engineers also believe in superstitions and follow the various babas blindly.
Religious practices and superstitions are hard to give up. In our country, we have many religions and its followers. Sometimes, it’s worshipped above the law of land, in such circumstances and with such mind-set uniform civil code could not be accepted. We can see lots of progress ahead, but time and again these issues will erupt followed by debate and later subside.
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