The word “secular” was inserted in Constitution of India in the year 1975 by Indira Gandhi Government but the intention to create a secular State has always been in the mind of our forefathers. Secularism as understood today is a doctrine essentially related to the State and religion. The dictionary meaning of ‘secularism’ has two forms; one meaning is ‘the belief that religion and religious bodies should have no part in political or civic affairs or in running public institutions’ and second meaning is ‘the rejection of religion or its exclusion from a philosophical or moral system’. In India, we have adopted a somewhat different version of secularism. In Indian context, secularism in effect deals more with accommodation of different religions and maintaining religious diversity and coexistence of different religion and at the same time preventing State from favouring any particular religion.
After Babri Masjid demolition in 1992, “secularism” as an operational doctrine in India has been put under scanner by intelligentsia across the world. It has always been a matter of curiosity among Indian and foreign scholars, as to how the country has continued to accept a multi-cultural and multi-religious ideology of secularism, even after its traumatic experiences of partition and other acts of communal riots. (Kothari, Rajni 1992)
Social Scientists often accused “secularism” for being a western import which was imposed on the masses of South Asian sub-continent. They believe that this western concept is not compatible with the South Asian setting and instead of creating communal harmony it is segregating the masses in religious ghettos.
Though the above arguments are incomplete and vague, through this blog I will try to explore debates on secularism in detail. I will write about my point of view on the questions of religion, religious identities, politics, pluralism etc. I will try to substantiate my arguments by providing empirical data collected during my research for a project on “Promoting Pluralism in India” for Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore. Apart from the empirical data, I will also use current state of affairs to further the debate on secularism.
Please feel free to make comments and further the debate.