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Modi govt has been working for a Uniform Civil Code and we didn’t even notice. Until now

In the absence of 'common civil code', religious prerogative of one community in a secular society has become a contentious issue in India.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech was on the expected lines. While much of the speech was dedicated to his government’s recent move to abrogate Article 370, creating two Union Territories out of Jammu and Kashmir, and questioning his detractors, the most unexpected mention was about controlling India’s population. After the triple talaq law, is Modi’s ‘population explosion’ reference further proof that the BJP government is actively working towards fulfilling the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s long-cherished dream – a Uniform Civil Code in India?

Before we turn to the crystal ball, a caveat first: it is not only difficult but almost impossible to guess the next move of PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. There are two important indicators that suggest the Modi government could bring a Uniform Civil Code Bill in the next session of Parliament.

Also read: All lines on this route are closed: Getting my mother out of Kashmir in a lockdown

Keeping promises

PM Modi has clearly indicated that decades-old problems cannot be solved by procrastination, in a ‘fits and start approach’, or in instalments. Although he was referring to the abrogation of Article 370, this assertion could apply to any of the issues festering for over 70 years, including the long-standing demand of a certain section for the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). The inference that could be drawn here is that like the contentious issues of Article 370 and the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute, the time to deal with the UCC demand too has come.

Indicating that his second term will be equally action-packed (as was his first term with demonetisation, GST, and surgical strikes), PM Modi began explaining the idea of ‘one nation one Constitution’ and went on to list his government’s agenda for the next five years – one (electricity) grid, one mobility card, one election and so on and so forth. Although there are constitutional and practical issues in implementing the idea of holding the assembly and Lok Sabha elections simultaneously, given the political and arithmetic acumen the Modi government has shown in getting many of its bills passed, this idea too could become a reality soon.

Population control

Then comes the second and the most important indicator for the enactment of the UCC.

“In our society, there is a section which is very well aware of the consequences of uncontrolled population growth. They deserve our accolades and respect,” Modi said. “This (small family policy) is an expression of their love for the nation… a form of patriotism. We need to inspire the segment of society still not thinking on these lines. We need to worry about population explosion.”

He called upon the central and state governments to initiate schemes to ensure that we as a nation do not pass on an ‘unhealthy and uneducated’ society to the future generation.

Also read: Does Modi’s population control call signal India unable to leverage demographic dividend?

Planning a family?

The Family Planning programme started in 1952 has met with considerable success but is yet to match the Sustainable Development Goals for economic growth and poverty alleviation. India’s population is expected to increase by 15.7 per cent to reach 1.4 billion in 2026, as per a report by the ministry of health and family welfare. There is little disagreement among scholars, economists and social scientists that the rapidly increasing population virtually devours much of the economic benefits, resulting in slow economic growth. The correlation between poverty, lack of education and family size has been well researched.

But more importantly, Modi drew everyone’s attention to the ‘irresponsible’ ones, those who add to the already increasing population and push their children towards an uncertain future. PM Modi also spoke about the reform process (especially among Hindus), which brought the end of archaic customs like sati.

In the absence of a robust reform movement among Muslims, the government had to come up with a law criminalising triple talaq. The continuing tradition of Muslim men practising polygamy is deeply rooted in their religious belief and is supported by the Muslim Personal Law Board. In India, polygamy is illegal. But in the absence of ‘common civil code’, the religious prerogative of one community in a secular society has become a contentious issue in India.

Policy of uniformity

A uniform population policy for all communities irrespective of religious beliefs, social taboos, faith-related codes of conduct, and personal laws has been a long-pending demand. The BJP as well as its ideological fountainhead, the RSS, have been advocating for the Uniform Civil Code. The BJP’s argument that after the abolition of triple talaq, the UCC will give more power and equal opportunities to Muslim women is reason enough for the other parties to oppose this move.

Similar to the demands like abrogation of Article 370 and Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, the UCC too got mired in the ‘minority versus majority’ controversy. In all likelihood, the Modi government could consider this issue sooner or later and bring a bill at the appropriate time in the next session of Parliament. Going by the ease with which the BJP has been able to get its bills passed, it is reasonable to expect that a UCC Bill too could pass the test of both Houses of Parliament.

That will leave only one unresolved issue – Ram Mandir at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

The author is former editor of ‘Organiser’. Views are personal.

Also read: From AFSPA to street protests, Modi govt needs new thinking in J&K with Article 370 gone


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  1. Shekhar Gupta is as usual doing what he has been paid for years now. Everyone is ofcourse waiting for Christian Michael’s take on who all crores of rupees were splurged on among the media to stay shut or sing Her Majesty’s tunes. With Chidamabaram already on the way, there must be shivers running down the spines of many including some in the media.

    Coming back, every situation is unique. No need to copy and paste solutions of other countries and their leaders. Shekhar Gupta too would do well now atleast to write as he should and not what he is asked to.

  2. The author is an “yes” man of the present govt. He knows that all these issues like, UCC, Triple Talaq, Article 370 are old issues and have lost their relevance in the last 70 years. BJP is harping on them only to score points on its agenda for publicity and vote catching device. Triple Talaq and Article 370 although implemented have no beneficial effect on the present society. They are only talking point now. Ayodhya issue is a land dispute which is being dealt with by the court. UCC has no meaning in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society. On family planning BJP always had double standards. When Sanjay Gadhi brought it forth in early seventies Sangh Parivar opposed it for vote bank politics. Now Modi is speaking about it perhaps to score points against Muslims. About gender justice BJP’s stand against Sabarimala judgement is an indicator as to which direction it is going. But one thing is sure: the BJP govt is successful in implementing its age-old hidden agendas. But the country is losing day by day.

  3. Muslims are less polygamous than trbals, upper caste hindus and jains according to census data.
    Minister Paswan has two wives and MP Hemamalini is the second wife of Dharmendra.
    Sociological studies have repeatedly found that size of the family correlates better with female education, quality of health care and economic status than religion.
    But how does truth matter to the great myth making machine that is Hindu right wing . The foolish graduates of WhatsApp would of course consume any story that portrays Muslims in a bad light. And of course the stupid leaders of Muslims would never speak up and expose this false narrative, but will keep harping on ( it’s written’)

    • I think you are right. Wife abandoning without proper legal recourse is much prevalent among Hindus. The is worse than TT.

    • If muslims of india want special treatment or prerogatives to live their lives according to their religious law, they must leave india asap and migrate to the country made for them in 1947…. no one is stopping them. If u want to live here u hv to abide by the rules of the land without asking for any special treatment…… Live here without causing any chaos or leave at the earliest.

  4. Why uniform civil code is limited to the level of religion only? It should do away with cast based reservations, do away with special rights of tribals, special child rights and what ever special privileges extended to anyone in the country. Having said that,did we as a country ever succeed in achieving in extending care to all citizens! Do the country able achieve social justice to all equally? Do we able achieve dignity of labour and pay parity? Do we reached the desirable employment rate! If not how and why should the country afford uniform civil code?

  5. One more point, along UCC, I hope Modi govt would also bring a law Uniform Ganapati Idol Size (UGIS). Every year not only number of idols are going the size is also increasing. After festivities the idols are recklessly pushed in water bodies resulting in major pollution.

    • You should have also asked that all Indians should have “N Nagarajan” as their name. One is free to ask anything. Isn’t it?

  6. Hello sir, what Sanjay Gandhi started in a different format you used it to defeat Congress through Janata Party which you parted away because you don’t want leave your family RSS. Modi and many others are very well known how they would use population issue hum do hamaray pachees. So at least a section know his comment on population. Their partner in Maharashtra has already given a community color without realising there are many in majority of who still prefer Boys what steps Modis party plan to take. Whatever other party do is bad but when they do it good. Thankfully Congress did not fall into trap on this particular issue

  7. A jaundiced person will see everything yellow around him all the time. I suspect the author of this piece harps around with a prejudiced view. This is a democratically elected government and there is an opposition. I wonder what is it that they are doing. This only reflects the failure of the entire opposition and with the absolute majority the government is stable and will take some bold decisions. It is only naive on the part of the author not to know that every decision will be beneficial to some people in society and may not be comfortable for some others. Decisions need to be taken in the larger interest of the Nation and her people. I also fail to understand why this Ayodhya issue is fueled time and again. What is wrong in bring in a policy to control the population of the country. Yes, it is the dog that should wag the tail and not the otherway because over time the tail has grown longer.

  8. Many people here talking about development issues and economic issue but I think Modi government doing various effort to improve road, train and sea network which is only way to increase economic growth, export and electric vehicle policy will save India dollars…
    And China USA trade war is main reason of slow down. Economy will take at least 9 month to pick pace (after USA election).

    And I think meanwhile India will pass reform in labour and land which is need of an hour..

    So developement is never ending process…..

    But article 370 and triple talak like issue are landmark and historical step… Indian Muslim population which is about 22 crore who are living in stone age law and among poorest in India need reform in their laws. mulsim women education percentage is lowest and graduate numbers are least among all other community. How can country develop with 22 crore human living with 1200 years old sarit laws… (expect those country who have oil)

    Many media house who run anti bjp propaganda in India. Now need to support Modi and amit shah and bjp why?? Because these reform is due from 1947…… And bjp is only party which can do this

  9. The real difficult decisions are to be made in the realm of the economy. Let’s see if the government musters the political courage to address these. It’s high time the government gets its act together to reform agriculture and access to markets, taxation both direct and indirect, rationalising power sector tariffs, labour code reforms, land reforms, rationalising rail tariffs, getting government out of running all businesses, opening up defence manufacturing completely to the private sector, get the government out of banking and financial services and several more which may have been missed out. In addition there are judicial reforms, administration reforms, police reforms that also need to be addressed. Once these real issues are sorted government can go ahead with the Uniform civil code, Ram Mandir etc. Lets see if the government can muster up the courage to do this.

    • There is nothing called address one priority before taking up another in government decision making process. As much water is need, roads and infrastructure development is needed. As much domestic policy needed, the external policy too given importance. As much medical facility need development, tourism too. One cannot wait for the other. Most of them run parallel in their own priorities and decision making process. More the multiple approaches, adoption to changes also important. One cannot keep talking about garibi hatao for ages and stop doing everything until this goal achieved. People want quick results from Modi, after waiting for more than 6 decades.

  10. Glad to see that the former Editor of “ORGANISER’ is supportive of Hon.Prime Minister and welcomes UCC.
    AS opposition will be vigorously opposing the bill and use ALL tactics to create problem,Govt at the earliest take earnest Steps to arrest Economic slow down.

    • Just because BJP wants to fulfill their ill-conceived agenda and just because they have numbers in parliament to sail through any bills, they can’t do all these non-urgent and unimportant things to suit their masters, at the cost of negligence of poor economy, unemployment crisis, mob lynching.. SC has asked the government to enact a law to punish mob lynching. Mr.Chari should also condemn in his article for what the government is not doing. Otherwise it is not a neutral view.

  11. P. M.Modi wants India to become great. But cannot. My humble comment. He cannot provide water by tap to each house, because majority of pipes under earth are not functionable. Demonitisation all black money got converted to new currency by black cats. Ministers all over India are corrupted. Bank loans corruption- how these rich men escaped to other countries. Information was given from banks and I T to them in advance.
    Rape and robbery all over India has to be dealt very very strictly, town planning all over India has to be modified with strictly, most food products we millions eat are not safe, almost 90% agriculture are chemicalised, green house farming to be done, petrol and diesel are not all to foreign specification and hazardous chemicals are mixed by dealers, in other countries if road laid, they are photografed and public aware. In India road are not laid, but billed. Crackers are most pollution created. Even politicians are celebrating with crackers. Helmet are made cumplusary for public to save their lives. In Chennai may be 2 persons are hurt due to not wearing helmet. But by alchohal every day 100 are dying. Rare are govt servant are honest without bribe. My small change in PAN card not done for months. Govt bank service compared to private banks all know the quality of service. There is a big list for India to be great.

  12. I have great respect for Shri Chari but perhaps for the first time, I do not agree with him. After momentous decision like abolition of Art 370, all the political issues look puny for the government. However, as of now, Modi must focus on economy- agriculture, industry, taxation, government expenses fiscal deficit etc and take bold steps to change the way we manage our economy. By the time this is done, SC would have decided on Ram Temple issue and then Modi can come up with required legislation, in case the verdict is against building of temple. Once that is sorted out, then this issue of UCC should be taken up. However, this issue is not only about practices by one community but bringing about reforms in various areas covering all religions, including unfinished task relating to Hindu community. HUF is one are where Hindu community has advantage over others and this needs to be rationalized.

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