Friday, July 04, 2014

A Uniform Fiscal Code and the Gujarat Disturbed Areas Act

Since religious discrimination has become a moot concern after the election of the new government, the following two issues may be of interest:

1. Mani Shankar Aiyar calls for a Uniform Fiscal Code by demanding that the tax exemptions that become available to Hindus because of the recognition of the Hindu Undivided Family as a separate legal person by the Income Tax Act should be extended to all families. India effectively imposes different tax liabilities for the same income on Hindus and non-Hindus. Aiyar is no doubt being mischievous and intends mainly to make the BJP uncomfortable by exposing its hypocrisy on the Uniform Civil Code debate. But he is right in demanding principled consistency: BJP must either give up its UCC demand, or it must ensure a genuine and complete disengagement of the secular state from religious affairs (yes, that would require a genuinely Uniform Civil Code, but also the abolition of the Hindu Undivided Family as a legal person or similar recognition of the lergal personalities of all families, the state's withdrawal from temple finance management, end of all religious subsidies, prohibition of religious discrimination in housing, education and employment, repeal of the anti-conversion laws, extension of affirmative action to Dalits from any or no religion etc). Here's hoping that the latter becomes more than a liberal secularist wet dream.

2. I have followed the issue of housing discrimination assiduously on this blog. Let alone protection from housing discrimination by private parties, it seems that the Gujarat Disturbed Areas Act effectively ensures religious segregation of urban areas. An Indian apartheid?
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