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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Multicultarising Secularism through Constitutional Recognition of Adibashis

Courtesy: Forum, a monthly mapublication of the Daily Star, Dhaka,
Vol. 4, Issue 11, November, 2010, pages 14 – 19

PHOTO: Devasish Roy

DEVASISH ROY WANGZA argues the case for recognition of Adibashis in the Constitution.
The idyllic non-communalism

Thanks to the Supreme Court's judgment in the fifth amendment case, we are on board the ship of state, about to journey back to a secular Bangladesh. Anyone who believes in non-discrimination -- which is a peremptory norm of international human rights law -- cannot but be happy with this. We would, however, be living in a fool's paradise if we thought that we could return to that idyllic land that the framers of our Constitution dreamed of in 1972: a society free of "communalism (o-shamprodayikota) in all its forms" and one in which there is no "abuse of religion for political purposes" (original Article 12, Constitution of Bangladesh). Freedom from the various forms of 'communalism' (read racism) can only come if our Constitution not only gets back its stolen pillar of secularism, but is also supplemented with provisions that expressly, accurately and respectfully acknowledge the identities of the different peoples that have lived in Bangladesh since time immemorial.

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