Question – Secularism as a content of the idea may be debated, but its validity as a goal is beyond doubt. Analyze it.

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Question – Secularism as a content of the idea may be debated, but its validity as a goal is beyond doubt. Analyze it. – 18 May 2021

Answer –

Secularism is a modern view of life, a complex and dynamic concept. This concept was first used in Europe. It is an ideology in which ideas related to religion and religion are deliberately kept away from matters pertaining to the present world, i.e., kept neutral. Secularism prevents the state from providing protection to a particular religion.

Secularism from a constitutional point of view:

  • In the Indian perspective, the concept of secularism was embedded in it from the time of the constitution’s creation, which is evident in the fundamental rights described in Part-3 of the Constitution (Right to Religious Freedom (Articles 25 to 28)).
  • By the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976 defining secularism in the Indian Constitution, the term ‘secularism’ was added to its preamble.
  • Here secularism means that the Indian government will remain neutral in the matter of religion. It will not have any religious creed of its own, and all citizens in the country will have the right to religious worship according to their wishes. The Government of India will neither favor any religious creed, nor oppose any religious creed.
  • The secular state treats every person equally without discrimination against a citizen on the basis of religion.

Importance of Secularism:

Indian secularism is a unique concept in itself, which has been adopted keeping in mind the special needs and characteristics of Indian culture. Its importance can be understood under the following points-

  • Secularism encourages science and technology, and rationalism, and forms the basis of a modern secular state.
  • A secular state is independent of religious obligations, adopting a tolerant attitude towards all religions.
  • A person is highly sensitive to his religious identity, so he would like to get protection against the violent behavior of a person or group of people. Only secular states can provide this protection.
  • The secular state also protects the life and property of atheists as well as gives them the right to live their own way of life.

Thus secularism is a positive, revolutionary and comprehensive concept, which strengthens diversity.

Reason for questioning the validity:

  • It is also said about secularism that it is imported from the West, that is inspired by Christianity but this is not a fair criticism. Actually, secularism in India has been a unique identity since ancient time; it is not original but imported from elsewhere.
  • Some critics argue that secularism is anti-religion, but Indian secularism is not anti-religion. In this, due respect is given to all religions. It is noteworthy that secularism opposes institutionalized religious domination, but it is not synonymous with being anti-religion.
  • It is alleged, that secularism in India is governed by the state. Minorities complain that the state should not interfere in matters of religion. It is noteworthy that on the issue of Triple Talaq, the Muslim Personal Law Board said that in the name of social reforms, private laws are being interfered by the state. At the same time, Jainism is defending its “Santhara” system based on its practice for thousands of years.

The government needs to ensure its protection, as secularism has been considered a part of the basic structure of the constitution by the court. A commission should also be set up to ensure adherence to the constitutional mandate of secularism. Public representatives should keep in mind that in a secular state, religion is a purely personal and private matter. Religion should not be made a political issue only for the vote bank. Also, politics should be seen as separate from religion.

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