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The Facade of Secularism in India

Since 1976, India has asserted itself as a secular nation after the Forty-second Amendment of the Constitution of India. The Preamble to the Constitution of India says, “WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRACTIC REPUBLIC …” However, since the last few years, this idea of Secularism-within-India and of Secular India seems nothing more than just a facade.

Secularism and its many faces:

Webster’s defines secularism as the belief that religion should not play a role in government, education, or other public parts of society. However, in the context of the world, there are three forms of known secularism that is followed by countries. The first form of secularism was when, under the rule of Chairman Mao, China followed secularism which suppressed religion throughout the state in order to create a more atheistic secular state which, however is ‘secularism’, removes the idea of personal freedom from human beings. The second form of secularism is what India follows where children are indoctrinated about religion even in schools, where the rights of women are pushed out of the window under the garb of religion. This, however also ‘secularism’, creates a shift between people of different religions and separates them instead of bringing them together. Lastly, what is considered to be a true form of secularism, and also complies with the definition of the term, is where the state doesn’t participate in matters of religion and stays neutral about it.

caption: The exclusion of religion from state is necessary to preserve secularism within the country.
credits: GulfNews

Secularism in India:

The idea of secularism in India has always been twisted and distorted by either side of the spectrum. The leftists say that secularism in India does not exist and the rightists say that India is a secular country. However, if one were to look at it objectively, secularism in India has never been able to exist in its true form. Discrimination on the basis of religion has long existed in India ever since the Independence. India has experienced numerous state-sponsored pogroms coated under the garb of religion; from the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 when Indira Gandhi was murdered to the 2002 Gujarat riots where Muslims were slaughtered like pigs in a slaughterhouse. These religious pogroms were surprisingly justified by the government. Religions like Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism are protected under the Hindu Code Bill whereas Islam is covered by Muslim Personal Law and the Christianism is ran as per the Christian Personal Law. This drives away the facade of Secularism even further in the realm of India and its people.

caption: The face of India is being torn apart with protests throughout the country against the injustice and unfair practices of the BJP Government.
credits: Rohan Hande Photography

Weeding out the problem:

Beginning with religious pogroms to cultural discrimination to constitutional discrimination to legislative and employment discrimination, the curtain of secularism in India seems to be thinning day after day. In the current times where the government is clearly endorsing the colors of one particular religion and killing in the name of religion is happening day after day, the scene is turning towards a horrific direction. If what is going on is to continue for a year or two more, Hindutva in the state would definitely be achieved and thousands of people of any and all other religions besides Hinduism would be slaughtered and caged up. The real underlying problem is not that the government focuses on one particular religion but instead focuses on the elites of that particular religion. Now they are coming for Muslims; next they will come for Christians; next the Sikhs; and lastly the lower-class Hindus would be up in line for execution. In order to prevent all this from happening, the current government would have to be overthrown or removed from power by the people. The Constitution would have to be put under the microscope to remove any and all traces of religion from it to make India truly secular.

For now, all the people of India can do is stand up and fight against this growing Hindu nationalism throughout the country. People need to fight against the conversion therapy that is taking place on a scale so large that it involves the whole country. The people of India need to realize that this fight is not against a particular religion but against the very values of Secularism that no longer exist in India even though it is still mentioned in the Constitution.

Yusuf Aziz is a student pursuing English Honors from Jamia Millia Islamia.

edited by: Rutba Iqbal

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.

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Written by Yusuf Aziz

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