During the inception of the Constitution of India in 1950, the Preamble did not
contain the words socialist' and secular'. These words were added to
the Preamble through the 42nd Amendment Act, in the year 1976. Prior to this
Amendment, the Supreme Court in Keshavananda Bharti v. State of Kerala
that Preamble is a part of the Constitution and it can be amended but subject to
the condition that the basic feature of the Preamble cannot be amended. With the
Bharatiya Janata Party, coming to power in the year 2014, one word which is
revolving in and around every person's mind is secular'.
Though prior to
that, there were major changes that changed the demography of this country under
the umbrella of secularism, but with a rise of a Hindu Nationalist' Party,
it is being alleged by the minority section of this country that their religion
is under immense danger and this has resulted in tremendous intolerance in the
Analysing the current scenario in the country, the research paper tries
to portrait the secularism existing in India in the light of the plight of
millions of Hindus who have been the victim of this rising intolerance. The
research paper concludes with certain suggestions which can be considered for
establishing a balanced secular society and thus enshrining the goals of the
India is often accredited with the term melting pot of diversity' due to
the presence of many religions within the country. In light of this religious
diversity, independent India has proclaimed secularism to be one of its key
policy values and thus declaring itself as a secular state by the insertion of
the word secular in the Preamble. D.E. Smith opines that a secular state is a
state which guarantees individual and corporate freedom of religion, deals with
the individual as a citizen irrespective of religion, is not constitutionally
connected to a particular religion nor does it seek either to promote or
interfere with it.
The secular state views it individual as a citizen and not as
a member of a particular religious group. Religion becomes entirely irrelevance
in defining the terms of citizenship; its rights and duties are not affected by
the individual religious beliefs.
Article 25 of the Constitution of India, allows any individual the freedom of
conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of his/her religion.
This Article forms the bedrock of Secularism in India. Accordingly, every person
is allowed to practice his religion. The religious demography, before the advent
of Islam was to very extent stable, with only few religions residing. With the
advent of Islam, not only a new community established but certain religions in
order to counter this new religion of brotherhood also came into existence due
to the growing atrocities against Hindus. This situation somewhat got stable
with the coming of Britishers but situation started deteriorating again with the
Divide and Rule' Policy that was adopted by Britishers.
After independence, the situation with regard to communal clashes started
getting worsen. And with India entering the 21st Century, the secularism in
India started taking a different turn altogether. Though the beginning of this
change started around 1990s with the enactment of Places of Worship Act in 1991
for prohibiting the conversion of any place of worship and requiring the
preservation of any place of worship's religious character as it existed on
August 15, 1947 and the demolition of Babri Masjid which was allegedly to be
constructed after demolishing the temple of Lord Ram. Prior to all these from
1989 onwards, mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits had begun from Kashmir.
tries to analyse these incidents, prima facie appeared, that the secularism in
India for Hindus had become a hoax and they were always subject to a situation
of compromise'. Year after year, the faith of Hindus was made a joke and
with the coming of Bharatiya Janata Party into power in 2014 and again in 2019,
the faith of Hindu has been termed a new word i.e. intolerance' by the
liberal section of this country.
Secularism in India
The Hindu ethos is prevalent in India. Hindus make up the bulk of the
population. It is ingrained in the culture to respect all forms of thinking,
belief, and worship. Minority sects would have had complete equality even though
the constitutional protections had not been in place. This is in contrast, to
our Muslim-majority neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and the Middle
East's Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and others have proclaimed themselves
Islamic Republics or Kingdoms and have refused Hindus religious freedom by law
If one tries to trace the incidents from the time Islamic invaders invaded India
and especially after the Independence, it appears, that under the Islamic rule,
the religious sentiments of the Hindus became the victim of the aggressive
conversion policies of the Islamic rulers. Thousands of temples including
certain temple of utmost importance in the Hindu religion such as at Ayodhya,
Kashi, Mathura, Somnath and many other were attacked and illegally demolished
and at certain demolished sites, mosques were even constructed.
the most is the situation which supposed to have improved, worsened after
Independence. Minor incidents of temples being demolished and lynching of Hindus
were reported from various parts of the country.
Post- Independence, it was in 1976, the Indira Gandhi government decided to
insert the word secular' to the preamble which was left out by the
Constitution makers. But one prominent question arises after this Amendment,
i.e. did the insertion of secular' imply that India had not been secular
before 1976? Had the omission of the word turned India into a Hindu Rashtra?
answer to these questions is no. The fathers of the Constitution made it
incumbent on Hindus to note their devotion to the Upanishadic ideal of
Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' by leaving the term out of the preamble. So,
secularism in the Indian context would not mean the state remaining away from
religion. Instead, it would mean maintaining equidistance from all religions.
Unfortunately, that equidistance never happened. Over the years, the test of
secularism came to be whether India's minorities perceived an action as
secular or not. For example, the government gave itself very little day-to-day
control over the Central Waqf Council or over Christian institutions but soon
exercised incredible control over Hindu temples.
Nehru decided to pass the four Hindu Code Bills while abandoning the objective
of a Uniform Civil Code. Even in politics, seeking Muslim votes by appealing to
the Imam of Jama Masjid was considered smart but appealing to Hindu seers was
Religious Interference and Temple Destruction
The repeated aggressions of radical Islamists and Christians has pushed the
Hindus into a state of victimhood. Continuous assault over the religious
sentiments of the Hindus has not only destroyed the thread of unity among Hindus
but also destruction of thousands of temples. The history is full of such
incidents of destruction of temples. For example, the Somnath temple. The temple
was first desecrated in 725 CE by Al-Junayd, the Arab governor of Sindh.
being repaired, it was destroyed during Mahmud of Ghazni's invasions in 1025. It
was repaired, but Allauddin Khilji destroyed it again in 1299. The temple was
rebuilt only to be demolished in 1395 by Zafar Khan, the Muslim governor of
Gujarat. The Sultan of Gujarat, Mahmud Begada, desecrated it in 1451. In 1665,
Aurangzeb dealt the final blow when he tore it down. Such incident of demolition
of temples can also be found in the three holy sites of Ayodhya, Mathura and
Fortunately, the dispute in Ayodhya took a legal turn and was instituted
in the Court as a suit which took years to be resolved. In 1992, the Babri
Masjid which was built over the Ramjanmabhoomi, was demolished by Hindus.
Fortunately, another title suit was instituted in the Court and in 2019, the
Apex Court granted the disputed site to Hindus. Though the Ayodhya dispute has
been resolved, Mathura and Kashi are still waiting to get justice.
of construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya also faced backlash from the
secular' group of the country for not constructing hospitals or other
public infrastructure. But such criticisms were not made while construction of
mosques in different part of the country.
Apart from these prime religious sites, today also, idols of Hindu Gods and
Goddesses are destroyed and religious sites are being desecrated by people from
minority groups. In addition to this, despite constitutional provisions, state
governments have been regulating and regularly taking over Hindu temples, while
mosques and churches are permitted to be governed exclusively by their
respective communities, despite Article 26 conferring the right on all people
Furthermore, state control of temples is doubly harmful to Hindus in
that they have not only lost control of their temples to the government, but
they have also become a part of "the State" as per Article 12 of the
Constitution as a result of that control. As a result, centuries-old religious
rituals, festivals, and traditions are selectively and unduly questioned and
In addition to this, in 1991, the P.V. Narasimha Rao government enacted the
Places of Worship Act, in the backdrop of growing agitation by right wing groups
regarding reclamation of 3000 mosques which were built by destructing temples.
The Act aims to freeze the status of places of worship as they were on August
15, 1947. The law kept the disputed structure at Ayodhya out of its purview,
mainly because it was the subject of prolonged litigation.
It was also aimed at
providing scope for a possible negotiated settlement. This law again hurt the
religious sentiments of the majority population, because in the name of
secularism, the mosques were given a security from being demolished as history
is full of examples, where temples have been demolished and mosques have been
built over them.
Human Rights Violations
Gross human rights violation has been taking place from the day Islamic invaders
came to India. In the name of conversion, several people were looted and killed
and women were raped. During the British Raj, due to the divide and rule
policies, there were constant communal clashes. In post-independent India, these
clashes exaggerated further and the primary victim of this exaggeration were the
Hindus. Mob lynching cases were reported from all over the country.
something more severe took place in the 1990s. In 1990, India saw one of the
largest exoduses of a community fleeing its homeland from fear of being
persecuted. The number of people who fled remains debated with few authors
stating it ranged from 1,00,000-1,40,000 to as high as 8,00,000.
and ethnic triggers, as well as external influences, seem to have played a role
in the incident. The Hindu community was disappointed, believing that they were
not treated fairly because they were a minority. Many factors contributed to
Hindu-Muslim tensions, including the construction of a mosque on the Secretariat
This attracted the resentment of many Hindus. As a result, several
temples were demolished, including those in Anantnaag, causing widespread havoc.
The genocide that began in the valley, was targeted towards the minority
community residing there i.e. the Kashmiri Pandits and the primary reason is
that these people follow a particular religion. Thousands of people were made
refugees in their own country, many were looted and killed and women were raped.
But unfortunately, there was no crackdown on these gross human rights
violations. Hopefully, the abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A has started
attracting the Pandits back to the valley.
In 21st Century, mob lynching of Hindus and no action against the culprits has
become a daily affair of the country. Whether it is the Palghar lynching case,
or lynching of common people in the name of conversion, the government has
become a mute spectator. What is surprising is Hindus are being lynched just
because of supporting a particular party.
The state of West Bengal is reporting
such incidents in large numbers where the goons' of the ruling TMC
government are killing supporters of the BJP. The post-poll violence appeared
genocidal like situation where these goons not only killed BJP workers but also
damaged properties and also assaulted and raped women. The prime target of these
incidents of violence were Hindus just because of following a political party
with a Hindu ideology and religion.
The issue of Love Jihaad has also become a centre of discussion. Many
Hindu women are lured to marry by the men from other religion and after marriage
are forced to convert to the religion of their husband. The refusal to convert
brings torture and at times death for the women. Such incidents have been termed
as Love Jihaad' by the Hindu right wing groups. States like Uttar Pradesh,
Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand, have enacted laws to curb such incidents of Love
Jihaad. Such laws have been termed by critics as against the fundamental rights
of citizens especially Article 25.
But the fact is, women not only from Hindu
religion but also from also other religion are lured to marry later are forced
to convert and if the women refuse, she is assaulted and at times killed.
However, most of the victims are from Hindu religion. During such incidents
where a woman from the majority population is the victim none of the human
rights activists come out in support of such victims. Hopefully, the Love
Jihaad' laws would be helpful in curbing such cases with regard to women from
all the religion.
The nation's political parties have passionately opposed to the secular state's
strategy. They combine religion with revenge in politics and toss ideals into
the open. Religion is nothing more than a dead ritual if it lacks ideals such as
justice, equality, compassion, love, nonviolence, truth, and sensitivity to
other people's suffering and it can be very dangerous if faith is synonymous
with hollow rituals rather than beliefs, as our politicians do. This has been
the case since the country's independence.
The Indian politics has been commercialised. Politicians rather than focussing
on achievements focus more on branding themselves with religious groups which
are considered as the dominant religious groups in the region. This branding is
termed as appeasement politics. Whether it be the regional parties or national
parties, minority appeasement is the first method to grab votes.
Post-independence, every election has seen appeasement of minority religions.
it granting monthly salary to Imams or welfare projects for minority groups or
trips to Haj, the welfare of Hindus during these appeasement politics is the
last thing done. A recent example is during the election of the State of West
The TMC Government increased the salary of Imams, offered namaz and did
what not to appease the minority sections which form a good chunk of the
State's population. However, seeing the BJP conducting an aggressive
campaigning through its top leaders for grabbing votes of Hindus, the TMC
supremo Mamata Banerjee turned herself towards appeasing the Hindus by
performing Chandi Path
. Similar instances of appeasing Hindus just before
election has been done by several other Chief Ministers by arranging Tirth
Yatras' programs just before elections. The Prime Minister himself had offered
scholarships for students from minority community.
Conclusions And Suggestion
Every invasion of India by an alien religious and cultural community, according
to Gajendragadkar, J., resulted in conflicts and forcible conversion for a short
period of time. But, in the end, they settled down peacefully and contributed to
the Indian society in different ways. This, he says, is due to the Hindu
religion's omnipresence of tolerance and liberal nature, which provides the
theological foundation for the philosophy of secularism in India.
India's constitutional scheme guarantees equality in matters of religion to all
religions to all persons and classes, regardless of faith, emphasising that the
state has no religion. The preamble of the Constitution, when read in
conjunction with Articles 25 to 28, exemplifies this point and shows that
secularism is enshrined in our Constitution in this way.
With the Bharatiya Janata Party, coming into the power, the Hindus, found a ray
of hope for raising their voices and to some extent even did. But the liberals
of this nation termed this as religious intolerance towards minority
communities. A new trend has emerged that whatever the ruling government does,
it is for Hindus and only they should be blamed for it. Due to this, for every
act of government, the common Hindu mass is being abused who has no role to play
in the acts of government. There is a strong need to curb this growing
aggression against the Hindus and achieve the goals of secularism as enshrined
in the Constitution.
The first and foremost thing is to bring a Uniform Civil Code. This will provide
a basic foundation to re-orient the policy of secularism as there would be a
singular law for civil purposes such as marriages, adoption, etc instead of
numerous personal laws. Secondly, there should be a curb over the appeasement
politics. Political parties, focus more on appeasing the religions which are
dominant in a particular region. This is despite the ruling of the Apex Court
in S.R. Bommai v. UOI
, wherein the Court states that political parties or the
group of individuals who aspire to hold public posts must abide by the
provisions of the Constitution.
They should not mix religion with politics and
respect the fundamental of secularism. The policies of the government should be focussing on particular religion but on the population as a whole.
Committee should be formulated independent of political interference to look
into the matters of mob lynching and human rights violations including the cases
of Love Jihaad and ensure that such cases exclusively investigated by the CBI.
Lastly, restoration of temples and allotment of alternate sites to Muslims for
construction of their mosques and allow them to profess their faith peacefully.
In the end, the words of Shashi Tharoor are worth mentioning to understand the
Indian secularism. He says, Western dictionaries define secularism as absence
of religion but Indian secularism does not mean irreligiousness. It means
profusion of religions.
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