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Secularism and Right to Religion

What is secularism?
Secularism is defined as the divorce between the state and the religion, in the western concept. The word Secularism is firstly used by the British writer, so we can say that secularism is the western concept.

If we go further deep in the meaning of the word Secularism in the western term, it depicts:
  1. Freedom of religion
  2. Equal citizenship (not depending on religion)
  3. Separation of religion from state.
But, Whether India follows this concept of secularism? Yes, but with some modification make it different and known as the Indian concept of secularism. Western concept of secularism defines that there is divorce between the state and the religion and the state does not interfere with any type of the disputes between the citizens regarding the religion.

Whereas Indian modification or the concept of secularism can be determined by the J.L. Nehru's statement that:
Equal protection by the State to all religions' this statement clearly shows the vision of India on the policy of secularism i.e. the state does not have religion and not participate in the religious ritual but when it come to the disputes or misunderstanding, the state always there to work as the mediator and sort out the problem.

India, a secular state

India is a secular state but having a different vision. It was the year 1976 when the 42nd Constitutional amendment act enforced consisting of various new sanctions and laws that's why it is also known as the mini-constitution. Well, the important part related to the topic is that the word Secular is being added in the preamble by that amendment as well. The addition of the word 'Secular' in the Constitution of India evident to the secularization of the country but before that was India is secular?

Yes, not expressly but impliedly. Have attention towards the rituals and the Vedic belief, which was originated in our country, gave a widespread aspect in a single word i.e. Dharm Nispeksh means there is no discrimination based on religion and the ground level secularism provides freedom of religion which mean same.

Now, it is clear that the state safeguards the religions as contended in the various provisions and articles of the Constitution of India. India is just like a live example in implying secularism because it is not so easy in so much diversity. Indian secularism got its power from the fundamental right to religion as mentioned from article 25 to article 28. These articles empower the citizen to practice their religion without any compulsion and also empower the state to resolve the dispute arising among religious communities.

The state is also got its power to the prevention of such rituals which are against fundamental rights such as triple talaq, the prohibition of entry of women in some temple, etc. and all such acts enforced for protecting diversities are subject to judicial review under the article 13 of the Constitution of India if any such act or law violates the fundamental right.

Let's take an example, Article 25(1) provides its citizens the right to propagate profess and practice their religion. So a myth interpretation generates that right to propagation includes the conversion of the religion of the peoples by any means, mainly in the Christian fathers they approach the court. In the case-law of Rev. Stainislaus vs. State of Madhya Pradesh[1], the Supreme Court held that the right to preach does not include the right to conversion and the contentions of the father struck in toto.

So, we can say that Secularism in India does not mean the state to become hostile but neutral to religion and cannot interfere in its rituals until necessary.

Secularism in Danger

India is a country having a status of the secular state as mentioned in its constitution. But some problems exist practically on the ground level and primary of them is the politics.
Non-separation of the politics from the religion is a serious issue because it is said that if politics and religious mix it will violate the neutral nature of the state.

Politics and religions cannot be mixed because if the state government found doing so then it can liable for the application under Article 356 of the Constitution of India. Is it practical? The answer may be disappointing because every political party has decided to vote bank based on certain community immaterial of the same religion or different.

After the amalgamation of religion and political parties, communalism is also a big threat to secularism in the nation. Communalism is a good concept and helped in independence but when it is accompanied by the self-enrichment then it meaning completely changes. And riots, communal hatred, acerbic speeches are the product of such communalism.

India being home to vast diversities it is difficult to manage them all because as an example when the state bans cow slaughtering on the name of preservation of human life it comes to freedom of profession, eat, and trade and when the state continues it violates religious conscience. And now it is more complicated because India, a compilation to the large Hinduism history while following secular policy it is difficult to differentiate between the Hindu and India.

Secularism and Right to religion

Constitution of India grants several fundamental rights of religion to its democratic public. Article 25 to 28 deals with Right to freedom of Religion which serves several freedoms such as freedom of conscience, profession, manage religious affairs. But it is a kind of stereotype in people's mind that Granting of religious rights or freedom of religions is secularism.

Providing these rights shows the policies of our Constitution but what secularism is? Dharm nispekshta. Means Government on behalf of state must not differentiate between the religious communities because doing so after declaring our self secular will affect our harmony and respect in global world.

After considering this much fact, to maintain secularism is in hands of the government not in the hand of public. Because after providing several rights, democratic public will profess but to resolve difference is work of government. As per the real meaning of secularism in Indian terms that divorce between the state and religion but state will interfere if any chaos happen between the communities. Then it is work of government to put same restrict or to punish wrongdoer without looking its religion or communities. Ultimately, Secularism also means the justice should prevail impartially in context to religion.

  • Basu D.D, Introduction to constitution of India
  • Shukla V.N, Constitution of India

  1. 1977 SCR (2) 611
Award Winning Article Is Written By:´┐ŻNitesh Singh Kushwaha

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