Sec­u­lar In­dia?

In­dia’s fu­ture as a sec­u­lar coun­try has be­come a big ques­tion mark.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By S. M. Hali

The largest South Asian na­tion grap­ples with ex­trem­ist re­li­gious el­e­ments.

Sec­u­lar­ism is de­fined as the be­lief that re­li­gion should not play a role in gov­ern­ment, ed­u­ca­tion, or other pub­lic parts of so­ci­ety. In­dia has been tak­ing pride in be­ing founded on prin­ci­ples set in its Con­sti­tu­tion, which states in its pre­am­ble:

“We the peo­ple of In­dia, hav­ing solemnly re­solved to con­sti­tute In­dia into a sov­er­eign, so­cial­ist, sec­u­lar, demo­cratic Repub­lic…”

On the ba­sis of abid­ing by the facets of sec­u­lar­ism, In­dia has won ac­co­lades in in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions but the truth is that its sec­u­lar­ism is far­ci­cal. Im­me­di­ately af­ter the par­ti­tion of the In­dian sub-con­ti­nent, communal violence broke out. The ex­o­dus of Mus­lims flee­ing to Pak­istan was set upon by ma­raud­ing Hindu and Sikh ex­trem­ists and looted, raped and killed. Un­for­tu­nately, Mus­lim mobs too re­tal­i­ated by at­tack­ing and killing Hin­dus and Sikhs mi­grat­ing to In­dia.

The frenzy of sav­agery died down af­ter a few months but in In­dia, there was lit­tle sem­blance of sec­u­lar­ism. It re­turned with the Babri Mosque in­ci­dent and the bloody at­tack on the Golden Tem­ple in Am­rit­sar. The may­hem con­tin­ued with the bru­tal at­tacks on Sikhs in 1984 in the af­ter­math of Prime Min­is­ter Indira Gandhi’s as­sas­si­na­tion at the hands of

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