NEW DELHI: The usual notions of minorities and their alienation are not valid in the Indian context, a global meet in the US was told by the Narendra Modi government while citing the "pro-active" steps taken by the Centre and states to strengthen bonds between various communities.
The Indian delegation cited the success story of recently-held election in "Muslim majority" Jammu and Kashmir in which 65 per cent electorates cast their votes to highlight the strength of liberal plural secular democracy of the country.
Addressing the 'White House summit to counter violent extremism' held in Washington last week, the delegation said the government was taking proactive measures to ensure socio-economic and political integration of different communities, including over 180 million Muslim population.
The usual notions of minorities and their alienation are not valid in the Indian context, said the leader of the Indian team R N Ravi, who is Chairman of Joint Intelligence Committee, at the seminar attended by representatives of 60 countries.
"Going by the usual definition of minority, their population is over 260 million i.e. over 21 per cent of India's population. There are over 180 million Muslims in India," he said.
Ravi said India's core strength is its liberal plural secular democracy. It ensures socio-economic and political integration of communities comprising the Indian demographic mosaic with Indian mainstream.
"The government of India and the state governments pro-actively take several affirmative actions that strengthen bonds between the communities," he told the meet.
"Education being the most critical to empowerment, India lays special emphasis on it. Nearly half the annual budget of Ministry of Minority Affairs is dedicated for empowerment of smaller communities through education.
He said during the last five years, over 40 million boys and girls belonging to the smaller communities have been given scholarships for higher and technical studies. Special emphasis is laid on girls education.
The Indian delegation leader said India's story of keeping all the communities integrated is unique in many ways and even though India has some 180 million Muslims, there is hardly any case of recruitment of Indian Muslims to any of the violence Pan-Islamic groups.
"Terrorism that India faces has their source often outside the country. India's response to violent extremism is calibrated in a way that prevents disproportionate use of force by the state. India has never used 'air power or any area weapons in combating violent extremism," he told the international audience.
The police with its roots in the communities deals with violent extremism firmly yet with human touch.
"Even in areas where Indian Army is deployed for combating terrorism, it is subject to the Indian civil laws and functions as an empowered police," he said.
The Ministry of Minority Affairs gives special focus on education and economic empowerment of smaller communities and their institutions besides women empowerment. "The range of affirmative actions of the government for the benefit of smaller communities have proved highly successful in strengthening a sense of unity and integration. India also has a National Commission for Minorities, mandated by the Constitution to address their grievances," he said.
The recently held elections in Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim majority state, in which over 65 per cent electorates peacefully cast their votes is a testimony of its success story.
"The higher population growth of smaller communities -- in the last 60 years they have grown double in terms of population share -- is a credible indicator of their ease and sense of stake in a happy co-existence with the rest," Ravi said.