Secularism is one of the most debated topics in India, one faction believes that it is one of the pillars of modern India and the other faction believes that it is just a term of loathing in their mouth. Before I explain what secularism is, I will take a sneak peek into the history of secularism in India which majority of us aren’t aware as no media or historian wants us to know it. Majority of the Indians are of the opinion that Dr Br Ambedkar was a pioneer of secularism in India and he was the one who made India a secular nation but the hard and the harsh fact is that he opposed the idea of making India a secular nation and said in the constituent assembly “It cannot be laid down in the constitution itself because that is destroying democracy altogether” (it here refers to the word secularist).
So it was decided by the constituent assembly to not make India a secular and socialist nation as they believed that the people of India should decide how the society should be organized socially and economically. So the constituent assembly mentioned “liberty of faith and worship” on the preamble so that it could not be amended and came up with article 25 which gives fundamental right to profess, practice and propagate their religion hence granting freedom of religion in India. The word “secularist” was added into the constitution by murdering democracy by Indira Gandhi during emergency, 42nd amendment was introduced and passed in the parliament when the whole of the opposition and many activists and journalists were in jail. But the most amusing thing is that Indira Gandhi then PM did not give any meaning to the word secular. Even after 44 years of 42nd amendment in the constitution the exact meaning of secularism is unknown. Since no meaning was given everyone have their own version of secularism which suits them and their purpose, according to oxford dictionary secularism means “the principle of separation of the state from religious institutions.”
Anyway, it doesn’t matter what is the real meaning of secularism in India because India is full of pseudo secularists and here pseudo secularism is practiced left right and centre without any shame and the beauty is majority aren’t aware about it. Pseudo secularism simply means making of policies and laws for minority appeasement. The term Pseudo secularist implies that those who claim to be secular are not so but are anti Hindu and pro minority (On reading this statement of mine one may feel that I am a Bhakt/Sanghi , but on reading this article even your opinion will change.).
These are the following reasons why I think pseudo secularism is prevalent in India and not secularism:
- Temples in India are under the control of the government whereas mosques, churches, gurudhwaras are autonomous institutions and they have control over their wealth and assets. Hindu religious and charitable endowment act allows state government to take over the temple’s vast properties and assets and this wealth can be used for any purposes.
- India on an average spent 100 million dollar annually on haj subsidy to enable poor muslims to go to Mecca for holy pilgrimage until 2018 whereas hindus , jains ,budhists ,Jews were never given such subsidy by the central government.
- In this beautiful so called secular country government funds Islamic schools (madrasas) where they are taught quran and these madrasas are affiliated with deeni madrasa board and not Indian educational boards like ICSE, CBSE or state board(though now some are affiliated with state board or CBSE as government made it compulsory) but government does not fund any school to preach Hinduism or any other religion and RTE regulations do not apply to madrasas like 25% reservation for economically backward students.
- In this secular country different religions have different law! Hindus have hindu code bill, muslims have muslim personal laws and Christians have Christian personal law. Whereas in a secular country all the people are suppose to have one common law irrespective of different religion.
- In secular state government cannot afford to recognise minorities based upon their religion despite of this fact minorities are recognised on bases of religion in India and there is also reservation for religious minorities.(these are 5 small examples which show that it is hindus who have been discriminated and exploited and not the minority religions)
Pseudo secularism has ended up suppressing the identity of India as many of our cultural activities are considered communal like yoga( there was a case in supreme court whether yoga should be taught in the school), Bharatnatyam, Kathak because of which government cannot promote India’s culture. Ronald Iden writes in his book Imagine India “Independent government implemented secularism mostly by refusing to recognise the religious past of Indian nationalism whether Hindu or Muslim and at the same time by retaining muslim personal law.”
So these are some of the reasons why hindus and right wing organizations criticise secularism in India but the media and the so called intellectuals calls them fascist. Politicians and activists have always used secularism for building their vote bank and gain popularity! Politicians have made secularism a joke in India! Only if politicians stopped fear mongering and ensured minority community that their all rights are secured they will not have to practise minority appeasement. The word secular should not be removed from constitution because then minorities would become insecure and communal tensions would rise up again, in order to stop the blatant discrimination the government should stop such discriminating laws (like make temples an independent institution) and the word secular should be defined in the constitution by the government. Anyways we don’t need a word to tell us how secular in nature we are as India has always believed in “vasudhaiva kutumbakam.”
Secularism is opposed in India because of its inapplicability in Indian context and the problematic ways in which ways it has been applied in India. Since India is a spiritual nation, government may have to interfere with a religion if it becomes obscure and obsolete(example triple talaq) so I am not sure if India can ever become perfectly secular in nature. No one is against secularism but against sickularism which has been going on in India since ages!