Secularism in India
Meaning of Secularism in India:
Secularism in India refers to the equal status and treatment of all religions.
The dictionary meaning of the word ‘secularism’ is skepticism in matters of religion. But we, in India, use the work in a broader sense. We use the word to mean impartiality or non-interference by the Government of the country in matters of religion. Independent India is one of the largest states in the world of today with a population of nearly 120 crores. This vast population is made up of people professing different religions like Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity etc. and practicing different religious rites.
One of India’s guiding principles in impartiality in religious matters. India wants her citizens to cling to any religion they like without any government interference. And this noble decision of the Indian Government is unequivocally proclaimed in the amended Preamble to the Constitution of our country. It reads as follow:
“We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic”, etc.
Importance of Secularism in India:
Secularism and Democracy are two remarkable achievements of independent India. These two achievements have stood the test of time and set the goal of the nation on religious and political fronts. The State, remaining free from religious obligations, can take a tolerant attitude towards every religion and can pursue the ideal of achieving the well-being of the people, irrespective of caste, creed, religion etc.
Challenges and Threats to Secularism in India:
Secularism is, no doubt, an ideal principle. But in practice it is not so easy to follow. The vulnerable point in India is the deep religious sentiment prevailing among its different religious communities.
Both Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists in India are whipping up this sentiment of the staunch adherents of these religions, most of whom are either illiterate or semi-literate. This is a threat to the Secular principles of India.
India, moreover, has failed to fulfill some of the important conditions laid in the Constitution. Education has not been given the priority that it deserves. The condition of backwardness – poverty, population explosion and environmental pollution – prevails in the country in alarming proportions. The fundamentalists fish in this troubled water.
The secular parties, too, cannot exonerate themselves from their share of blame. They cannot ignore the existence of fanaticism in the body politic. It is very often seen that in the time of elections most of the political parties completely forget this noble ideal of secularism and woo the voters even on communal or cast lines. These acts are not done out of ignorance, but are due to compromise of convenience. It is the duty of the secular and democratic forces to rally behind those political forces that really profess and practice secularism.