What is secularism?
Secularism is defined as the divorce between the state and the religion, in the
western concept. The word Secularism
is firstly used by the British writer, so
we can say that secularism is the western concept.
If we go further deep in the
meaning of the word Secularism
in the western term, it depicts:
- Freedom of religion
- Equal citizenship (not depending on religion)
- Separation of religion from state.
But, Whether India follows this concept of secularism? Yes, but with some
modification make it different and known as the Indian concept of secularism.
Western concept of secularism defines that there is divorce between the state
and the religion and the state does not interfere with any type of the disputes
between the citizens regarding the religion.
Whereas Indian modification or the
concept of secularism can be determined by the J.L. Nehru's statement that:
Equal protection by the State to all religions' this statement clearly shows
the vision of India on the policy of secularism
i.e. the state does not have
religion and not participate in the religious ritual but when it come to the
disputes or misunderstanding, the state always there to work as the mediator and
sort out the problem.
India, a secular state
India is a secular state but having a different vision. It was the year 1976
when the 42nd Constitutional amendment act enforced consisting of various new
sanctions and laws that's why it is also known as the mini-constitution. Well,
the important part related to the topic is that the word Secular
added in the preamble by that amendment as well. The addition of the word 'Secular' in the Constitution of India evident to the secularization of the
country but before that was India is secular?
Yes, not expressly but impliedly.
Have attention towards the rituals and the Vedic belief, which was originated in
our country, gave a widespread aspect in a single word i.e. Dharm Nispeksh means
there is no discrimination based on religion and the ground level secularism
provides freedom of religion which mean same.
Now, it is clear that the state safeguards the religions as
contended in the various provisions and articles of the Constitution of India.
India is just like a live example in implying secularism because it is not so
easy in so much diversity. Indian secularism got its power from the fundamental
right to religion as mentioned from article 25 to article 28. These articles
empower the citizen to practice their religion without any compulsion and also
empower the state to resolve the dispute arising among religious communities.
The state is also got its power to the prevention of such rituals which are
against fundamental rights such as triple talaq, the prohibition of entry of
women in some temple, etc. and all such acts enforced for protecting diversities
are subject to judicial review under the article 13 of the Constitution of India
if any such act or law violates the fundamental right.
Let's take an example, Article 25(1) provides its citizens the right
to propagate profess and practice their religion. So a myth interpretation
generates that right to propagation includes the conversion of the religion of
the peoples by any means, mainly in the Christian fathers they approach the
court. In the case-law of Rev. Stainislaus vs. State of Madhya Pradesh
Supreme Court held that the right to preach does not include the right to
conversion and the contentions of the father struck in toto.
So, we can say that Secularism in India does not mean the state to
become hostile but neutral to religion and cannot interfere in its rituals until
Secularism in Danger
India is a country having a status of the secular state as mentioned in its
constitution. But some problems exist practically on the ground level and
primary of them is the politics.
Non-separation of the politics from the religion is a serious issue because it
is said that if politics and religious mix it will violate the neutral nature of
Politics and religions cannot be mixed because if the state
government found doing so then it can liable for the application under Article
356 of the Constitution of India. Is it practical? The answer may be
disappointing because every political party has decided to vote bank based on
certain community immaterial of the same religion or different.
After the amalgamation of religion and political parties, communalism
is also a big threat to secularism in the nation. Communalism is a good concept
and helped in independence but when it is accompanied by the self-enrichment
then it meaning completely changes. And riots, communal hatred, acerbic speeches
are the product of such communalism.
India being home to vast diversities it is
difficult to manage them all because as an example when the state bans cow
slaughtering on the name of preservation of human life it comes to freedom of
profession, eat, and trade and when the state continues it violates religious
conscience. And now it is more complicated because India, a compilation to the
large Hinduism history while following secular policy it is difficult to
differentiate between the Hindu and India.
Secularism and Right to religion
Constitution of India grants several fundamental rights of religion to its
democratic public. Article 25 to 28 deals with Right to freedom of Religion
which serves several freedoms such as freedom of conscience, profession, manage
religious affairs. But it is a kind of stereotype in people's mind that Granting
of religious rights or freedom of religions is secularism.
rights shows the policies of our Constitution but what secularism is? Dharm
nispekshta. Means Government on behalf of state must not differentiate between
the religious communities because doing so after declaring our self secular will
affect our harmony and respect in global world.
After considering this much fact, to maintain secularism is in hands of the
government not in the hand of public. Because after providing several rights,
democratic public will profess but to resolve difference is work of government.
As per the real meaning of secularism in Indian terms that divorce between the
state and religion but state will interfere if any chaos happen between the
communities. Then it is work of government to put same restrict or to punish
wrongdoer without looking its religion or communities. Ultimately, Secularism
also means the justice should prevail impartially in context to religion.
- Basu D.D, Introduction to constitution of India
- Shukla V.N, Constitution of India
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Nitesh Singh Kushwaha
- 1977 SCR (2) 611
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