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Socialism & secularism: The Indian style

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[Note: The terms Socialism and Communism as well as Socialist and Communist are used interchangeably in the article for the purpose of easy understanding.]

In the Preamble of the Constitution of India which came into force on 26 January 1950, the country was described as Sovereign, Democratic, Republic. But, after its 42nd amendment in 1976, India was declared as a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic country. In the 42nd amendment, two new terms Socialist and Secular were added in the Preamble of the Constitution by the Indira Gandhi government under the Internal Emergency situation.

India is Sovereign, as the country has its independent authority and power. Socialism in the Indian Constitution relates to awarding social justice and development to all sections of Indians, with special reference to socio-economically weaker sections. India does not have any state religion and it treats followers of all religions equally; hence it is Secular. The presence of Parliament consisting of democratically elected public-representatives makes India Democratic. The rule of the country by its Public headed by an elected President makes India a Republic.

India is not a Socialist country in classical terms. In Socialism all the resources, assets, incomes, labours and liabilities of the people are owned by the State, which is not the case in India. However, Socialism in any form, denies the religious importance and identity of its people. Thus, Socialist India’s Secularism is superfluous and unnecessary.

Under its Secularism, India has made special provisions, concessions and positive discriminations in favour of Muslims being minority. The Indian Constitution does not define minorities; however, it recognizes linguistic and religious minorities. There is also no cut-off proportion of population or geographical basis (country, state, district and taluk) to become a minority group. Till 2014, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist and Jain communities of India have been included among minorities.

In other words, the Indian Constitution practically recognizes only the religious minority groups. Among the total of all these six minority groups, Muslims constitute 74 percent in strength. If India were a Hindu country, the concept and practice of protection and promotion of minority Muslims would have been morally valid, and legally tenable. But minority is the antithesis of Secularism and India has failed miserably by accepting the both in its Constitution.

Ideologically, Socialism believes in Democratic Centralism within the ruling Communist Party alone. It does not allow any other political party to exist. Democratic Centralism is a form of political system in which decisions about the country/people are reached periodically by voting processes binding upon all members of the party. Here the Party is above the people.

Communism/Socialism does not believe in Parliament and general election as done under Indian democracy. Interestingly, Communist Party of India (CPI) has been participating in democratic elections since 1952. Subsequently, other Communist and Socialist parties of India also entered into electoral politics of democratic India.

While Socialism emphasizes on the responsibilities of the people, Democracy emphasizes on the rights of the people. This contradictory positioning of responsibilities and rights of the people has made Communism/Socialism in India opportunistic at the best and weird at the worst. Barring a few small armed struggles here and there India, unlike Russia and China, never had any country-wide Armed Communist Revolution having a hundred years old Communist Party.

Communism/Socialism does not believe in individual aspiration and progress. It treats humans like a bunch of machines. Global failure of Socialism is mainly ingrained in its such limitations. During the last three decades, economic liberalization has developed a middle-class population in India which is as big as about 30 percent. This middle-class population works as a buffer between the rich and the poor (proletariat) and shuts the door of any future Armed Communist Revolution in India. Communism/Socialism has reached a sterile future in India.

The term Secularism classically means the separation of Religion from the state (country). It affirms that Religion is the personal matter of the citizens and the state functioning is independent of any type of religious connection, influence or hue. But in India, Secularism is conceived as giving equal treatment by the state to followers of all religions of the country.

Such an idea of Secularism backfired badly in the country when it was found that Muslim minority community vote en masse for one or other particular political parties as a leverage to extract additional religious advantages from central and state governments. Congress and most of the regional political parties fell prey to that trap of Muslim community and started pampering them for Secular Vote-Bank Politics.

India has been under the pressure of Socialist ideology of USSR after its independence. The Nehruvian era accepted Socialism as romantic and academic feather in the crown of its state functioning. Nehruvian Socialism established the notorious Licence-Permit Raj in India which was carried forward by successive governments up to 1990.

Indira Gandhi, to establish her political stability and to neutralize political opponents, took Socialism as a populist framework through Bank Nationalization (1969), abolition of Privy Purse (1971) and Garibi Hatao slogan (1971). When independent Bangladesh, in its Constitution of 1972, specifically used the word Secularism in its text, Indira Gandhi government of India was put under self-conceived moral pressure.

Indian Constitution of 1950 guaranteed equal rights and privileges to all its citizens irrespective of caste, creed and religion. But it did not mention the word Secularism then. To find an escape route from her political opponents and to attract people towards her, Indira Gandhi incorporated the words Socialist and Secular in the Preamble of Indian Constitution in 1976 through 42nd amendment. Ironically, Muslim-majority Bangladesh accepted Islam as state religion in 1988 and Socialist USSR collapsed in 1991. India was left like a stupid person swimming in the stagnant pool of failed Socialism and fraudulent Secularism.

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