The Distinctiveness of Indian Concept of Secularism Or In Defense of Theoretical Foundation of Indian Secularism
Dr. Kaushlendra Kumar Singh
Department of Political Science
Jawaharlal Nehru Smarak P G College, Barabanki
Pawan Kumar Ph.D. Scholar
Centre for Studies and Research in Gandhian Thought and Peace
This article is an attempt to defend some theoretical aspects of Indian secularism. Secularism is one of the main politicalideologies of the post-colonial state in India. Itdebated scholarly as well as politically. In India secularism debate is centered on some important questions such as;isthe Indian state ‘secular’ according to the western definition of the secularism; isthe Indian state strictly separate from religion? In this context this article tries to explicate specific conceptual structure of Indian secularism. This article is divided into three sections. In the first section, it outlines some important critiques of secularism and explicates important theoretical aspects of secularism. In the second section, it lay down the specific variant of ‘Indian secularism’ embedded in Indian constitution. Then, it will identify different version of secularism and explicates its relevance in dealing with state and religion.Introduction The state in the west has different path of development and homogeneous society, India is a multi-cultural and multi-religious society that is why such a separation in India has never been possible. For certain politician and academician in India, todaysecularism is as a projection from the west. Ashis Nandy and T N Madan pointed out that Indian secularism imported from the west and grafted on India (Banerjee,1998). But I agree with the argument of Rajeev Bhargava and Akeel Bilgrami when they working out an alternative conception of secularism (Bhargava, 2010).It is frequently argued that secularism in India is in crisis. It has both internal and external threat. In my opinion there may be external threat to its identity when it practiced in the interest of political interest. But internal threat in the sense that which type of concept in India is about? What type of secularism is about? Is it about erecting a ‘wall of separation’ between the state and religion, as in the west? Or is about build minority right into the concept and practice of secularism? These types of criticism over Indian secularism are continuing. I am considering these critics and questions but these criticisms areneither fully wrong nor fully right.The general conceptual structure of secularism is yet to be explicated. Because Indian secularism does not erect a strict wall of separation but make a ‘Principal Distance’ (Rajeev Bhargava 2010) . Therefore, Indian secularism makes a balance between the claims of individuals and religious communities.These features of Indian secularism remain off from understanding its distinctive character of these critics. The aim of this paper is to explicate distinctive nature of Indian model of secularism.Meaning and concept of secularism The reasons were also found in the constituent assembly debate. On the basis of this paper Indian secularism has possess followingcharacteristics- every person is guaranteed freedom ofconscience; the freedom to profess, practice propagate their own religion including change their religion, to reform their religion, freedom to live withoutreligion; it follow the idea of Principal Distance; it give place to theist andatheist; it guaranteed rights for religious minorities.VI Atheism is not grounded in the claim that it promotes moral or political good. For details see Beltrami’s art., secularism: its content and context.VII Professed Hindu Tolerance means when the Indian state tolerates privately with Hindu religion.VIIIMulti-value doctrine means, Indian secularism follow the policy of engagement and disengagement with different religions equally in order to protect its secular identity. It also gives to place for atheism.IX Minority-Specific rights are those rights which are given to the particular religious community for establishment of religious institutions according to the Article 30(2).X Inter-communal domination means when within a community one group want to dominate other group of people.On the basis of these core features I can say that Indian secularism has developed its own model of secularism which is a complex and multi-value doctrine. There may be external threat to its secular identity when it practices badly? Which is not its conceptual problem? Because take for instance, we should learn to make a distinction between science and the way science is used.
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