Short Introduction.


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.

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3 Comments

  1. Secularism, in the Indian context, is very bad. To put in simply, it is like a stolen concept. Actually, Secularism means complete separation between the State and Church(or religion). This feature is very important in any given nation. It is completely a matter of personal choice for any individual to choose whatever religion/faith or rationality that they choose to do. Equally, if this is not deviating from point, separation of state and economics is as equally important as that of Church, for the same reasons and for the same effect i.e. interference and the kind of damage it can cause.
    Finally, what i wanted to say is Indians mistook Secularism completely wrong. If you want a proof for this, read our Constitution once.

    • Hi Harsha, Thanks for your comment. I agree with you that “secularism” as a concept is a western concept. But there are few points, which I think that your own thoughts are not clear:
      1. You were right when you said, “Secularism” is separation between State and Religion. I dont see any explicit cases where any liberty of people to follow any particular religion is hampered. So i dont exactly know what you are trying to convey here. In contrary to what you said, I think Indian Constitution gives maximum liberty to an individual to follow any religion. Refer Article 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30. So on liberty aspect it is one of the most liberal Constitution I have come across.
      2. As far as “secularism” in Indian Constitution is concerned. I think it is a different “variant” of the orignal concept. In philosophy this is known as “contextualism”. If you get time read about it. It is an interesting concept.
      3. I really dont see any connection between “religion” and “economics” but i still refrain to comment on that topic, simply because they move in a very different platform.
      One thing i want to repeat is “secularism” as a concept has relationship between “State” and “Religion” and not with individual. And as far as i understand, “India” as a country has no State religion. Neither she establishes a “religion” nor she is a “theocratic” State.
      i will be updating a post now. i will address some issues mentioned here.

      The debate is bit complex than how it looks, there cannot be a easy airthmatic justification like “it was stolen and we deviated from that”. There is lot to it. I will be updating a post as soon as possible, please do read and keep discussing here.

      • Hey Dude, Nice stuff!
        I think i will clarify the point further. When i said that Secularism is complete separation between State and Church, I mean it literally i.e. the principle as an absolute. Normally and I think that is how things should be. Principle, within its context, allows no exceptions. So, the State should not interfere with it no matter what!
        Further, when i referred about Indian Secularism, I mean that there exists a contradiction of the principle for which it is supposed to mean. For example, take reservations. Who and How is the State concerned with it? Though there might be an opposition to this that the backward class have been subjugated to bad stuff, so they are entitled to get reservation.
        Further, I think it boils down to basic concepts like “State” or “government”. It is essential to understand what their functions are. I think that the only role of government in a society is to protect individual rights i.e. Military, Police and Courts. Other than that, Government should not interfere, because in any society, only two kinds of threat exists for any individual -criminal and government.
        The former does not need an explanation but the latter is relevant as it has the only power to initiate force against any person.
        Looking back at what you said, I do not doubt about the liberty granted to any citizen regarding the points you mentioned.
        About context, I guess I have already mentioned.
        And about economics point, I intend to say that there should be separation between State and economics because it as important as the separation between State and Church for the same reasons and for the same kind of threat it poses in any society. So, what Im advocating for is a purely laissez-faire capitalism.


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