Who Needs UCC?

Why Not Uniform Economic Code?


You tell me, if in the same family there is one law for one member and another law for a second member, will that household be able to function?’ asked Prime Minister Modi while addressing his party workers. This news has become a point of discussion for the past several weeks! In his speech to the party workers, Modi stressed the importance of implementing a ‘Uniform Civil Code’ to make people of all religions in the country as uniform citizens. One may infer that Modi gave this sermon keeping in view the assembly elections soon to be held in five states. This is an attempt to rally the Hindu voters behind the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since they are aware of not getting votes of Muslims. Some opposition parties are rightfully criticising that Modi’s tactic is aimed at not considering the people of the country as citizens but to divide them into Hindus and Muslims.

Before discussing the good and bad sides of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), one must first know the basic information about it. Indeed, a uniform law (code) is necessary to govern the personal and familial lives of citizens, belonging to not a single country but the entire world, irrespective of the differences in gender, region, religion, and caste! For example, in one or two specific religions, one male can marry multiple females! In a different religion, getting a divorce is difficult and even impossible not only for women but also for men! In all religions, property rights are different for men and women! The status of the woman is low in a man’s view! Likewise, the status of the man is high in the view of woman! Thus, in many aspects, such as marriage, divorce, adoption, and property rights, the customs and rules of different religions are different! Why? Why do those who preach religious and caste equalities in India not touch upon the income differences that form the source of livelihood?

The constitution of India mentions the need for ‘Uniform Civil Code’. It, however, does not speak about the proper conditions required to achieve it! On the one hand, the constitution recognises the right of the citizens to practice the customs of their respective religions. And on the other hand, the constitution suggests that all citizens should have the same code governing their personal and domestic lives, irrespective of religious differences! How canny is the constitution! One is a ‘fundamental’ right, and the other one is simply a ‘suggestion’! Suggestion can never become a Law! Until now, the Uniform Civil Code remained a suggestion; the present attempts are to make it a Law.

The BJP workers must have logically questioned Modi as follows, ‘Sir! You insist that all citizens must have the same law in the name of Uniform Civil Code. This code, however, relates only to personal and family life, doesn’t it? But all citizens are not placed in the same economic situation!‘Economic situation’ does not mean having currency notes. It implies performing labours and involving in the production related activities. Some citizens possess huge properties, whereas others have nothing except drudgery. How much land is available in the country? Is this land a common property of all citizens? Are the citizens, who produce heaps of products in the industries equal? Who are responsible for making and operating all kinds of means of transport and secure heaps of crores and crores of money? And who own these means of transport? What are the bases for the property rights? On what properties do the sanitary workers belonging to the bottommost castes that clean the latrines, have ownership? Do the workers of the country, who toil 24 hours in production activities, have comforts in common? Do males uniformly participate in performing domestic chores, such as raising children and caring for the elderly? The working people are divided into intellectual and manual workers. When the tasks performed by the citizens are not of the same kind, can the citizens be equal?

Having grasped clearly the economic inequalities, what question must people pose to leaders like Modi?‘Is there uniformity between those citizens who toil day and night in various kinds of labour, namely agriculture, industry and transportation and those who do not perform any of one of those labours? Without raising such a question, should one think of a uniform code in the matters of marriage, divorce, adoption, or some such issues? Why do you deliver great sermons on Uniform Civil Code, Great Sire, when the rights are not uniform and equal?’Can’t the citizens of this country question Modi like this? Such questions do not occur to those people who are flooded with euphoria for elections and those drowned in the personality cult of their leaders.

When would a Uniform Civil Code be possible? Only when there exists a ‘Uniform Economic Code!’ Uniform Economic Code implies a code that makes lands, mines, forests, industries, and means of transport, which form the basis of human existence as common property of the citizens. In other words, as the ‘socialised property’. A law that insists on such common property is the Uniform Economic Code! The Uniform Economic Code is a system which insists that all men and women, except children, the elderly, and the sick, take an active and responsible role in the production activities of different values! Only such a system will lead to a Uniform Civil Code!

Where a state fosters exploitation of labour, irrational religious customs dictate lives! As long as the caste system, a product of unequal division of labour, exists, the caste traditions and customs subdue the citizens of all castes. In a society where utter poverty is pervasive and a collective economic system is lacking, ‘professions such as the selling and buying of women as objects of enjoyment emerge and prevail. Will the religion, caste, or professions like prostitution disappear due to Uniform Civil Code? True, reforms in the existing inequalities will give some solace. However, in a society where radical and fundamental changes are urgently needed, will piecemeal reforms sustain?

Those opposing the Uniform Civil Code are betraying the Muslim daughters and the backward ‘Pasmanda,’Muslim castes, moaned the kind heart of the prime minister! Is it not a betrayal of Muslim daughters to release the criminals who sexually assaulted Bilkis Bano and other Muslim women?

[Originally published in ‘Sakshi’, a Telugu daily. Translation: R Udaykumar]


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Vol 56, No. 17-20, Oct 22 - Nov 18, 2023