BY: VAIBHAVI MENON
“Preamble declares India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic.” With the Forty-second Amendment of the Constitution of India enacted in 1976, the Preamble to the Constitution asserted that India is a secular nation. This very line from the Preamble of India raises the question that is India really a secular country? Secularism is the principle of separation of the state from religious institutions. It allows no discrimination on the grounds of religion. People are allowed to practice any religion or choose not to practice any without getting judged or discriminated by others. However various instances in India have proved to be contradictory to this statement.
India is a diverse country with many religions cultures traditions values yet at times these aspects are not respected. Religious violence in India includes acts of violence by followers of one religious group against followers and institutions of another religious group, often in the form of rioting. Some of these examples range from Exodus of Kashmiri Hindus, Gujarat communal riots (1969), Anti-Sikh riots (1984), Religious involvement in North-East India militancy, Anti-Hindu violence to Violence against Muslims, Anti-Christian violence, Anti-atheist violence. India is characterized by more ethnic and religious groups than most other countries of the world. Aside from the much noted 2000-odd castes, there are eight “major” religions, 15-odd languages spoken in various dialects in 22 states and nine union territories, and a substantial number of tribes and sects. Three ethnic or religious conflicts have stood out of late: two occurred in the states of “Assam and Punjab; another, the more widely known Hindu-Muslim conflict, continues to persist. The Assam problem is primarily ethnic, the Punjab problem is based on both religious and regional conflicts, while the Hindu-Muslim problem is predominantly religious. It is easier to outline these problems than suggest what should be done about them. In a situation of mutual distrust, almost any solution will generate controversy. Still, three solutions seem plausible. First, further decentralization of power to states would be of considerable help. This would partly address the problems in Punjab and Assam, both of which have complained of the gap between the resources they are entitled to and the resources they actually process. Second, a conscious attempt needs to be made to improve the educational attainment and economic level is easily demonstrated of Muslims whose socio-economic backwardness is easily demonstrated. The Muslim elite could do much in this respect. Special educational privileges are constitutionally sanctioned but they ought to be worked on. Modern liberal, as opposed to religious, education would be of great help. The government, for its part, could allay the apprehensions of the Muslim community by better representing Muslims in the police and paramilitary forces. Third, the secular leaders, to the extent that they exist, must make a sustained effort to reintroduce and deepen secular, socioeconomic concern in democratic politics. Partisan communal leaders and communal electoral mobilization, both within and outside the communal parties, but particularly within the ruling party, should be exposed.
From the above information it can be understood that secularism can be taken as a theoretical concept until the mindset of people can change because in the end only we can bring a change and do something about it.