The debate on the exact definition of minorities is yet to be settled, as the concept of what constitutes a ‘minority’ is absent in the Indian Constitution. The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) set up by the Union Government under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, recognised five communities as minorities: Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis. In 2014, Jains too were included in the list of minorities, taking the number to six.Now, there is a demand to include the Hindus of seven states — Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh — and the Union Territory of Lakshadweep — within the umbrella of minorities. A petition was filed to this extent in the Supreme Court by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay in 2017.This year, the SC has asked the NCM to decide upon the plea, seeking guidelines for defining the term ‘minority’ and for their state-wise identification.Push for a Minority Tag for Hindus is a Redundant GimmickAre Hindus Really The Minority In The Mentioned States?Yes, Hindus are a minority in the above mentioned states — except in Manipur where Hinduism is still the largest, although only 0.10 percent more than Christianity. The Hindu population comprises 41.39 percent while Christians comprise 41.29 percent in Manipur. In Christian-dominated Mizoram, the Hindu population is marginal — even less than Buddhism — accounting for only 2.75 percent of the population. The Hindu population in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Lakshadweep and Arunachal Pradesh is 11.52 percent, 8.75 percent, 28.43 percent, 38.49 percent, 2.77 percent and 29.04 percent respectively.Are These Demands For The Sake Of ‘Equality’?A section of civil society is skeptical about the demand — how can Hindus, who are form the national majority accounting for 79.8 percent of the population, qualify as ‘minority’ in some states? They are calling this a gimmick by right-wing groups who appear to be trying to polarise and also spread fear among Hindus or persecution in their own land.While we must acknowledge that the Hindus comprise the national majority, how can one ignore the fact that they are indeed a minority in some states? I think the demand will only strengthen the country’s social fabric which often faces threats from both radical right-wing and left-wing groups. This demand, if accepted, will also negate the fear-mongering views of radical Hindu groups that Hindus are being neglected in the name of ‘secularism’ by the Indian system. However, why blame only the radical Hindu Right? The radical Left too is equally responsible for spreading fear in the name of ‘intellectualism’ among the minorities — ignoring the fact that the population of minorities have witnessed growth in the country over the past decades. Although radical Hindu groups blame ‘conversions’ by Christian groups for the decline of the Hindu population in the Northeast, in most cases, it seems that it is due to migration.Hindus Must Have 5 Children or They’ll Become a Minority: BJP MLAThe Northeast & The ‘Conversion’ TheoryLike in Manipur, where the plains are dominated by the Meitei people who are mostly Hindus with a small section of them practising Sanamahism and Christianity, the hills are dominated by Kukis and Nagas, who are Christians. In the state, valley-based Meitei groups have been demanding Inner Line Permit to protect their state from foreigners.However, it is only in Arunachal Pradesh that the ‘conversion’ theory has appeared to be applicable. Second, in 1971, the Christians were only less than 1 percent, but in the 2011 census, the population of Christians amounted to 30.2 percent — becoming the largest group in the state with 1 percent more than the Hindus. Local groups who fall in the ‘Other Religion’ category have also often voiced their concerns of threats, as they believe that the growth of Christianity has been at the expense of the local indigenous faiths.As a result, the local groups have always been against the repealing of the anti-conversion law in the state.Modi Wave: Has ‘Hindu Mind’ Been Rigged? Full Story in 8 ChartsAllegations of Negligence & Fear of PersecutionThere have been allegations by Hindus in the Northeast facing negligence or even persecution — like in the case of Mizoram. The minority Brus — who are elsewhere in the Northeast called Reangs — have alleged persecution at the hands of Mizos and had to even flee Mizoram in 1997 to live in Tripura as refugees. The majority of Brus are Hindu Vaishnavites and animists who are seen by Christian Mizos as ‘foreigners’.In 2018, during the assembly polls in the state, the majority Mizos led protests against the then Chief Electoral Office, SB Shashank, for supporting the Brus’ demand to vote from their refugee camps in Tripura.The Economic Times in its editorial then pointed out that such ‘majoritarian demands’ have the potential to damage Indian institutions. Ultimately, Shasankh had to be removed due to pressure from the majority community of the state. Mizos wanted Brus to vote from their constituencies — but Brus were not willing to go to the state for fear of their security in Mizoram. So, the Election Commission had to reach a consensus by arranging a polling booth for Brus at Kanhmun in Mizoram, bordering Tripura. However, the Brus’ votes accounted for only 56 percent.Strengthening Social Fabric, Thwarting Fear-Mongering AttemptsThe question is, whether there can be state-wise minorities apart from the national list of minorities? Yes, it is possible. Jains, who were initially not included as national minorities by the NCM, only to be included in the list in 2014, used to be recognised as state-wise minorities by eleven states including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, before being recognised as minorities nationally in 2014 by NCM.Nobody can deny the existing social tensions between different religions in a large and diverse country like India, but such tensions need to be checked. Thus, it may make sense, for the sake of peace, to grant Hindus the ‘minority’ tag in the above mentioned states — except Manipur where Hindus are still the majority according to 2011 census, and any change if needed has to be done on the basis of figures based on the 2021 census. This would not only thwart the fear-mongering propaganda of radical Hindu right groups that Hindus are in danger, but would also check the agenda of the radical Left who often choose to ignore the distress of Hindus in many parts of the country. The implementation of this demand may strengthen the diverse social fabric of the country.(Sagarneel Sinha is a freelance writer from Tripura who writes on politics, foreign affairs and Indian mythology. He tweets @SagarneelSinha. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.) We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.