Discrimination in the private sphere may or may not be morally and ethically excusable. But state-imposed policies that discriminate for or against particular segments of the population is unambiguously wrong, immoral and barbaric. Regardless of whether the discrimination is legally sanctioned or not, it is morally odious in principle and is pernicious in its effect on society. State sanctioned and state imposed discrimination among citizens on any criterion is bad in general but it becomes absolutely unacceptable when the criterion applied is religion.
What deserves unconditional denouncement and unreserved condemnation is when a self-professed secular state discriminates on a religious basis. No state in modern times can claim to be civilized while blatantly committing the crime of discriminating against segments of its population based on religion. The Indian State should be roundly criticized for breaking a universally recognized norm in this regard.
In any multi-ethnic, multi-religion society, it is an absolute necessity that the state be blind to the professed religion of citizens. All policies must be equally applicable to all people, regardless of religion or ethnicity. Violating that normative principle necessarily leads to mutual hatred and resentment among the various communities, which does immense damage to the social fabric. It’s a cost that cannot be justified by any imagined benefit.
State discrimination is morally odious in principle because it violates a basic principle observed by all civilized societies — that all individuals are of equal moral value and deserving of equal respect. When the state denies the equality of every individual, it commits a moral crime that should not be tolerated in any functioning modern state. In this regard, the Indian State stands indicted and found guilty. It discriminates on the basis of religion. Here is an example of state-imposed religious discrimination.
PM Modi Minority Scholarship Scheme 2019. Modi announced scholarships for 5 crore (50 million) in the next 5 years to students of minority communities for pre matric, post matric and professional & technical courses. [Article in NDTV.com June 11, 2019.]
Since the funding is from general tax revenues, it is clear that the majority (read Hindus) is funding the scholarships for which members of the majority community are not eligible. However, if a Hindu student were to convert to the minority (read Muslim) religion, then he or she becomes immediately eligible.
This means that essentially the Indian government, using money extracted from non-Muslims, is inducing people to convert to Islam by bribing people with scholarships. On the margin, some non-Muslims will convert. It would be understandable if this kind of scheme were implemented by the governments of Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or any other state that has clearly declared itself an Islamic state. But what justifies this blatant discrimination by the government of India, a “secular” state?
The government of India must stop religious discrimination:
- End all policies that discriminate among citizens on the basis of religion.
- End government control of Hindu religious institutions.
- End government control of Hindus educational institutions.