Secularism and India- Article, Essay, Short Note, Speech
Introduction [Essay on Secularism ]
Secularism is a topic that almost every student under the Indian education system has been taught at least once in their life, but only a few may have actually understood in entirety what exactly secularism as and how it was applied in reality.
Secularism is the act of separating the government institutions from the persons mandated to represent the religious groups. An application of this would be your right to be free from religious rules and teachings. Another manifestation of this would be the view that public activities (political) should not use religion and shouldn’t be influenced by any religious group either.
An ideal secular society would be one where there is no ultimate commitment by the government to any religious idea or sentiment, is pluralistic, and is tolerant of religious diversity. In such a world there will be respect and equality or all, regardless of the faith that he comes from, and also there would be no barriers of caste and class which stems from religious differences.
History of secularism
In a country that is being called as the greatest democracy, secularism is an idea that has existed since its independence but has it been actually applied? The Indian point of view explains that secularism is the equal treatment of all religions. The 42nd Amendment to the Constitution- the Preamble, declares India as a secular nation but peculiarly there has been no clear demarcation between state and religion in the rest of the Constitution. The existing laws basically imply recognition and acceptance of all religions, enforcement of parliamentary laws rather than religious laws and respect the existing pluralism in the country. But in Modern India, the personal laws with respect to marriage, divorce, inheritance were based on the individual’s religion. Although this is changing slowly even today Indian Muslims live under the rules of the Sharia. But it is this very concept of accepting every individual religious law that has led to objectionable issues like child marriage, polygamy, extrajudicial divorce, unequal inheritances etc. Although the court does not interfere in matters of religion, a person can go to the judicial system in case of unfair treatment, and the courts do then give judgments which at times go against the religious sentiments and hold good over them.
Some examples of this would be
1978 Shah Bano case
She was a Muslim woman who was divorced by her husband of 44 years and was being denied alimony money because it wasn’t required under the Muslim laws. The court saw into her case when she complained and she won the case. This saw a lot of protests from the Muslim men about how the courts were interfering and changing the existing Muslim Practices. But then the Rajiv Gandhi government, caving under the pressure from the Muslim groups gave in and amended the law, making it applicable to everyone except Muslims.
Women Rights issue
There have been a lot of groups that have been fighting against the ongoing behavior with women as based on the historic religious traditions, where women were seen as house slaves and birth givers with no voice or right to an opinion. The state has also given them their rights which if they weren’t secular would have aligned itself to a religious sentiment and dictated the women’s rights accordingly.
While India in the past has managed to scrape through by doing basic secular activities, but this year something happened that was unprecedented. The head of a religious institution was appointed as the CM of a state. Yogi Adityanath was known to have strong religious sentiments to his religious group and now as CM of Uttar Pradesh, will be taking decisions that tend towards the ideology of his faith. Also, the case of Triple Talaq, nikah halala and polygamy among the Indian Muslims have been brought up to the courts.
As may have been clear by now, there are a few loopholes and lacunae with regards to the Indian idea of secularism.
- Lack of a Uniform Civil Code
This would have been able to usher in secularism much more smoothly and would show a clear demarcation over religious laws and the state laws which technically should have a higher standing. But it did not come into being, mainly because of the mass protests that arose when the idea was proposed.
- Politics and Religion
Indian politics and political parties specifically have not yet matured enough to not use religion during their campaigns to accumulate votes.
- Cultural Symbols
Almost everyone is aware that breaking of a coconut before starting something or doing a puja is a Hindu tradition and while in a secular state, the rulers should not be involved in such acts. Yet before any state event, there is a puja and a coconut breaking activity which defeats the purpose of secularism entirely.
Conclusion on Speech on Secularism
While Indian secularism does have all the above-mentioned drawbacks, no one can contest that we are doing the best that we can to deal with the vast diversity in terms of religions and people. Not everyone would be satisfied with the decisions taken by the courts, but there is a future wherein the population of this country will mature and realize that their nation and the laws are much greater than an individual religion. There is a future, sure, but for everyone’s sake, let’s just hope that it comes soon enough; and for that to happen it’s the youth who need to change their thinking and try to protect the people of India from causing more human right violations and end up hurting themselves.