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Define ‘Secularism’ properly or remove it from Indian Constitution

These days Sanatan Sanstha is very much aggressive on various fronts. They think that Secularism is the poison of the worst kind in the Indian politics and that is the reason they want the word ‘Secular’ to be removed from the Constitution of India. Every nation has a unique identity. India’s is of “Sanatan Dharma”, essentially based on the Hindu culture and tradition. France, UK, USA, Australia — all have the word Secular in their Constitution but they all say that they are Christian nations and are proud of their heritage. Rather, we the Indians believe in equality in diversions. We cannot call our own country a Hindu Rashtra as Pakistan calls itself a Muslim country, no matter if the other religious people residing there. Go to the Middle East countries, they are known by the faith they follow. Listen to the leaders like Barack Obama – their country which is secular, openly admits that the country is instituted on the basis of Judeo-Christian faith and they are proud of that. They celebrate Christmas, Easter all over the country including the White House. The inauguration of the presidency starts with the top priest coming and performing a religious ceremony. All take oath on the Bible! They are never ashamed of saying that they are Christians. They say that they are secular and allow others to practice their religion but let them know that the US is a Judeo-Christian country. The US has a Uniform Civil Code, i.e., one man one wife, and one law for all. Can India follow this?

In 2015, Shiv Sena too wanted the words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ to be removed from the Preamble of the Constitution of India. The party said that its demand is justified as India is a “Hindu nation”. They believe that the word ‘secular’ was not relevant for the country as India is a “Hindu Rashtra”. From the beginning, leaders like (Shiv Sena founder) Balasaheb Thackeray and Veer Savarkar have been saying that this country cannot be called a secular nation. The partition of this country happened on the basis of religion. If Pakistan was formed for the Muslims, then what remains is of the Hindus. How can we be called secular? The Sena’s demand was slammed by other parties. The NCP said that the entire exercise is being deliberately done to divide the country on communal notes. The Congress too voiced its protest. But removing the words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ is the feeling of crores of Indians. The country is of Hindus and it belongs to them. People of all religions can live in India but Hindus will dominate. However, the government defended itself and stated the words were included in the Constitution after an amendment in 1976. It doesn’t mean that we are saying that before 1976, governments were not secular; we were just respecting the Preamble made at that time. The words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ were not a part of the Preamble of the Constitution of India which was adopted in 1949. The two words were added by the 42nd amendment in 1976.

Historically, the process of secularism involves stopping public funds to be used for a religion, tolerating citizens who change religion or abstain from religion, and allowing political leadership to come to power regardless of religious belief. But the Indian politics exploited the word ‘secular’ to their advantage for political gains. Every major country in the world does have a degree of socialism in their policies. Even capitalist nations such as the UK and the USA have a socialist policy. Secularism does not mean the ‘absence of religion’, it means equal treatment of all religions in India. However, the irony is that we do not do what we follow. Appeasement policies followed by the political parties have ‘dirtied’ the concept of secularism. That is the reason the word itself got in casualty.

The word ‘secular’ was discussed and debated by the Constituent Assembly, and it was decided to not include this in the Constitution. In 1976, the Congress government had a huge majority and the then PM got it incorporated in the Preamble of the Constitution of India. The intentions were debatable then and now. Many of the 42nd amendment insertions were gross violations of many cherished principles of democracy and were repealed by subsequent amendments. No other country has this word in their written Constitution. Bangladesh had originally incorporated this word in their Constitution but later withdrew the same. In our Constitution, either it should be properly defined or it should be removed. It is the most misused and misinterpreted word by our politicians and some vested communities and is used for convenience. The irony is that a particular community which can never be secular because of its proselytising religion uses for “secular votes”. Let us be secular, our ethos has always been secular even without having this word in our Constitution. India is neither Socialist nor Secular. From 2004-2014, the UPA was in power and it was a socialist-leaning government. Now, the NDA is in power which is capitalist-leaning; so how are we socialist? India is not secular either. Secularism means the “absence of religiousness” while India is one of the most religious nations in the world. Only countries like North Korea and China can be called secular. The Indian version of Secularism is very different from the secularism practiced in several other democratic countries. India has reduced the secularism to mean being pro-Muslims and nothing else. In this sense, it’s a communal term and should be removed from the Indian Constitution. Instead, the Indian Constitution should be changed to add the description of the sense of the word ‘secular’. The way things stand, members of the Hindu religious groups employ the term contemptuously, usually twisting it to “pseudo-secular”; politicians from the non-religious parties pay lip service to it without much conviction and the leaders of the Muslim outfits uphold it to protect various unjust religious practices but abandon it when it threatens such practices, as when a secular civil code is mentioned.

Well! Let’s assume that the word ‘secular’ is removed from the Constitution, will there be any change?  Nothing will really change, except that the opposition and fake liberals cry hoarse. Do you think that this country is a secular country? No. It is not. Its population is still governed by religious laws. Reservations are provided on the basis of religion. The government controls Hindu temples. The government provides subsidies to the Muslims for Mecca pilgrimage. The political parties play religious vote bank politics and are devoid of any ethical responsibilities to the nation. Conversions are happening right under the nose of administration and the government doesn’t take action against religious fraudsters. The Muslim leaders openly ask Sharia to be implemented and the government doesn’t take action. Secularism in India means to surrender to the Islam and Christianity. This word must be either removed from the Constitution or be implemented by the government in its letter and spirit in every walk of life in this country. But this on-going chaos may add to politics but may damage Indians at large. Sanatan Sanstha assumes that they are targeted just because they follow staunch Hindu religious preaching, and the liberals and rationalists assume that the Sanatan Sanstha is nothing but a saffron terror organisation whose members are killing the think tanks of India. In the recent past, all those writers and socialists were killed and the investigations indicated the involvement of Sanatan Sanstha; whereas, Sanatan Sanstha is always in the denial mode. Sometimes, they march in the protest against the arrested members of Sanatan Sanstha and in most of the cases, they just deny the person having any connections with them.

If I have to believe them, then they have to be either 100 per cent right or 100 per cent wrong. Fifty per cent of any which way makes them 50 per cent of the other side. What is the guarantee that if the “secular” word is removed from the Constitution, the Sanatan people will be kind to the rationalist and those who do not believe in a particular religion and its ethos and superstitions?

 

(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on feedback@afternoonvoice.com)

Dr Vaidehi Tamanhttp://www.vaidehisachin.com
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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