Secularism in India – UPSC GS2

Features of constitutional secularism in India

  • Constitutional secularism is marked by at least two features.
  • First, critical respect for all religions.
  • Unlike some secularisms, ours is not blindly anti-religious but respects religion.
  • It respects not one but all religions.
  • Second, intervene whenever religious groups promote communal disharmony.
  • Thus, it has to constantly decide when to engage or disengage, help or hinder religion depending entirely on which of these enhances our constitutional commitment to freedom, equality and fraternity.

How populism is harming secularism

  • Secularism has paid a heavy price in our country for being at the centre of public and political discourse.
  • Populism based politics is indifferent to freedom and equality-based religious reform.
  • It has even been complicit in igniting communal violence.

Way forward

  • There is a need for a shift of focus from a politically-led project to a socially-driven movement for justice.
  • Also, a shift of emphasis from inter-religious to intra-religious issues.
  • Such focus on intra-relisious issues may allow deeper introspection within, multiple dissenting voices to resurface, create conditions to root out intra-religious injustices, and make its members free and equal.
  • A collective push from young men and women  may help strengthen the social struggle of emancipation from intra-religious injustices.
  • Inter-religious issues also should not be ignored.
Related Questions:
  • How populism in the politics threatens the idea of secularism in India? Suggest the ways to deal with it.