Secularism and India

1 Oct

                 What is secularism? That is the concept we primarily need to expound. In the west, the term denotes the separation of the church from the working of the state. In the Indian context, it is the freedom to propagate and practice one’s own religion without being interrupted or interfered and when the propaganda doesn’t hurt the religious sentiments of the others.

                But are we secular? Is India a secular nation? I agree that we are taught in educational institutions that it is and this is also mentioned in the constitution but in actuality are we? I don’t think so. We are predominantly a Hindu country and that’s the biggest dilemma.

                    We constantly come in confrontation with examples of communalism that challenge secularism and one of them would be the ‘Ram Janmabhoomi issue’. Through this we would be able to provide a distinction between the two opposite forces. If the ’Vishwa Hindu Parishad’ had solely requested for the proclamation of the land as the ‘birthplace of ram’ then that could have been termed as a secular demand but the demolition of  ‘Babri Masjid’ turned it into a communal one. It was clearly visible then that the whole issue had been a political mockery staged by the B.J.P in collaboration with the V.H.P to assert their victory in the ’93 elections.

'The demolition of Babri Masjid'

‘The demolition of Babri Masjid’

                   Their success lies in their ability to instigate people and this instigation motivated the public to commit the demolition. The documentary ‘Ram ke Naam’ by Anand Patwardhan reflects the naive mentality of the locals who were involved in the triggering of the issue and especially that of the youth enrolled in the ‘Bajranj Dhal’. He interrogates people regarding the date of the birth of Ram but none are able to provide a definite answer and they won’t be ever able to as there isn’t any evidence to prove it. If this was the case, then how could they make an assertive claim that Ayodhya is the place where Shree Ram was born and also that the masjid was erected by Babur after razing a temple? It isn’t valid. Even if we consider that the Mughal emperor had destroyed the mandir (which is a colloquial term for temple) and constructed a mosque instead, still it must have occurred some 500 years prior to the obliteration. When the incident had occurred the masjid had become a part of the rich heritage of India and to demolish such a structure is criminal.

English: Film maker Anandpatwardhan

English: Film maker Anandpatwardhan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The documentary 'Ram Ke Naam'

The documentary ‘Ram Ke Naam’

                   The documentary had become crucial in the trial conducted by the Allahabad court and moreover, its importance lies in the fact that it was shot prior to the demolition and covers the various factors which contributed to it including the ‘Rath yatra’ conducted by the B.J.P honcho, Mr Advani.

'The Rath Yatra'

‘The Rath Yatra’

               With the above mentioned example we can describe communalism by saying that it is the act of linking politics and religion and causing harm to people belonging to another religion.


                  Another example to support the view that India is a Hindu nation is that of our reservation quota. The policy as a concept is an ideal one because the weaker sections will have greater chances of acquiring seats in government institutions with lesser competition but in practice, it’s purely sectarian. The people who benefit from this; scheduled castes, schedule tribes and other backward classes are nothing but the minorities of the Hindu religion and that’s very unfortunate because persons belonging to other religious communities are denied reservation in institutions, other than those where the management is held by that particular sect, even though they too had to enroll in conflicts with the dominant religion; Hinduism and they still have to.

                 I don’t think that when Dr. B.R. Ambedkar had included the term ‘secular’ in the preamble while drafting the constitution, he had thought about the fact that it’ll never be wholly implemented. Even he didn’t appreciate the dominance of Hindutva and had converted to Buddhism as that’s more peaceful and more loving and more importantly a way of live than a religion. Even Hinduism was once conferred the same title but that was centuries ago.

Dr. Ambedkar

Dr. Ambedkar

                   To sum up, India is a great country and there is no denial about that but its greatness is constantly threatened by sectarian politics. Secularism had been a cherished virtue in the past; it has its mention in the various scriptures and documents. Thus, it’s inherent to Indian culture. In the present day, the secular outlook is constantly challenged by communal uprisings. For a better future, for the betterment of human kind and for the being of a harmonious society, we should strive to revive and strengthen the virtue and also to make people realize it’s value.

col_gurcharan_das_20040329                 harmony

The End…


One Response to “Secularism and India”

  1. Nilesh P. Megnani December 5, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    good attempt at writing. though the issue can be endlessly discussed as we had a bit in the classroom. Keep writing. 🙂

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