HOW TO PRESERVE SECULARISM IN INDIA?
HOW TO PRESERVE SECULARISM IN INDIA?
The concept of Secularism was born in England on Separation of Church from the State, and the significance of secular ideals was assimilated by human civilization. In the present global context of secularism and democracy, there is growing consciousness to support and nurture this type of society. In the last hundred years, secularism has come to be accepted as an alternative to religious orthodoxy and fundamentalist ideology. A secular state is one that allows its citizens to profess and practice their respective faith freely and fearlessly. Secular state does not interfere with the religious and spiritual affairs of the people. It respects all religions equally. Secularist principles and democratic polity are indispensable to establish a just and peaceful society. With these ideals in mind, India braced the concept of “Secularism’ though this word was omitted from Constitution when it was adopted in 1950. The preamble to the constitution of India declares India as a secular state with it being officially added by the 42nd Constitutional amendment of 1976. The concept of Secularism in India is different from the western concept of the state in confrontation with the church. Indian secularism was born out of an experience, a painful process of national liberation struggle. The Fathers of our Constitution had reasons to introduce secularism in our country: fear of disorder arising from dangerous divisive political movements associated with militant Hindu nationalism, Muslim separatism, Hindu – Muslim communalism and so on. Post Independence, Nehru practiced the Western notion of secularism and was against clubbing religion with politics. His ideas of secularism found great approval among the intellectuals, besides this, it was acceptable to the minorities as well, particularly Muslims. Post-Nehru, India witnessed weakening of secular commitment and policies of opportunism, if not outright communalism. Instead of promoting secular and socialist ideology, the winning of elections became sole aim, though the rhetoric of socialism continued. The decade of eighties and nineties proved to be much more dangerous from this point of view. The result has been disastrous for the nation, On the other hand, leaders created a system of vote bank i.e. polarizing Hindu and Muslim as separate electorate. At the time of election, the politicians try to woo each vote bank, conceding certain concessions to each group of people. The gradual de-ideologization of politics further strengthened politics of communalism. The de-ideologized “pragmatic approach” then began to deteriorate into opportunism and even unabashed use of caste and communal rhetoric by the “secular leaders to capture power.
Newton‘s third law says that for every action, there is equal and opposite reaction. The same is applicable in case of communalism also. It must be understood that communalism breed only communalism. It should be understood that Communalism breeds terrorism and terrorism also gives incentives to communal-mongers to incite riots and pogroms at the same time in retaliation.
The Constitution of India itself allows pluralism. In fact, pluralism is the very soul of our Constitution. Communalism defies of the real constitutional spirit and intolerance of other cultures and religions. Muslims like Hindus are part of the national mainstream not only because they accept, the constitution of India but also because they have been part of Indian society for centuries. Indian traditions are as much in their blood as part of anyone else. They have also contributed to the enrichment of Indian society and culture in no small measure and they should shoulder responsibility to take India to new technological and economic height. This failure of the leadership has thwarted the progressive separation of religion and politics in India. Communalism has major implications for the subcontinent as a whole, because this will undeniably lead to continuous tension. The implication of communalism is not only for India but for whole South-Asian subcontinent, from the point of view of development, peace and prosperity, because the attention of such States will obviously be based on, creating more antagonism. To me the solution lies in the concept of “Composite Nationalism”. The concept of “Composite Nationalism” is an effective weapon in the hands of countrymen against the communal forces. The concept stands for religious tolerance and co-existence with others, who share a different world view. The concept shows how pleasant fraternal relations may be formed and sustained. Sustaining Economic growth and safeguarding Independence is most important now. That is not possible, unless, there is unity, cooperation and brotherhood in the country. Presently, the communal forces are engaged in, looking at every problem from their prospective and prism. In this scenario, the concept of Composite Nationalism is more relevant today than ever before. The citizens having different race, religion, caste and belonging to different regions speaking different language should live with their fellow country men with patriotic human feelings and goodwill, must eschew hatred confrontation and narrow mindedness. It should be understood that the purpose of religion is to obtain the blessing of God and to obtain salvation. The way to achieve such blessing and salvation are different in different religion but the aim remains the same. Religion teaches compassion, love for human being and universal brotherhood. No religion preaches hatred amongst human being. With, these feelings, every citizen should wage a joint struggle for peace, progress and stability of the country. The state has role to play in this endeavour, it must disassociate with every symbol of any religion, in its functioning. I believe that majority of my countrymen have deep faith in secularism. A consensus must be evolved amongst political parties about their faithful commitment to secularism; only then the feeling of composite nationalism will foster amongst citizens.
Department of Political Science