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Secularism in the twenty first century India

Secularism in the twenty first century India

The word secularism has been imported into India from the west. In Indian tradition and civilization, there is no parallel word for secularism. No word is found in our historical texts or literature or scriptures precisely equivalent in meaning to this word. The reasons for this are not far to seek. The Indian culture is intrinsically secular, in the working sense of the word. Our accounts of the long periods of ancient history gleaned from texts or folklore also suggest the absence of discrimination among peoples on the basis of religion in the functioning of the governments.

Present India is a secular nation; its constitution is clearly secular in character. As stated above, Indian society over the centuries of ancient history has been secular in its thought, outlook and in ways of interaction with its members. Since the word secular is connected with the term ‘religion’, we have to look at the attitude of the majority Hindu community in India towards religion in social and political intercourse. The Hindu society is innately secular because of its theological threads which define religion and religiosity in a broad-based manner. The average Hindu has a universalistic view of religion and generally sees religion as humanism. To him, the mode of worship of a divine entity God is a secondary matter. To him, the scripture that a person follows is also of secondary importance. For precisely this reason, the Indian society has been traditionally tolerant and accommodative over the course of long world history.

India is still home to almost all the major religions in the world. It is also a fact of recorded history that India has offered a safe haven to the victims of religious persecution in all places across the world. People belonging to various religions who were excommunicated or driven out of their countries found refuge in India and ultimately settled here becoming one with the Indian society. This process of amalgamation witnessed through history is an eloquent proof of the secular ways of Hindu society. The term secularism finds roots in medieval West European society and culture where the governments of the day sought to reduce the hold of the church on the ruling class. There is no parallel or equivalent word for secularism in Hindi or Sanskrit, the prime native languages of India. Hence to use the word secular and secularism in the Indian context, in Indian society and in Indian politics is not only irrelevant but outright improper.

In India, the word ‘secularism’ had been used and misused for many decades after independence.  Till as late as the turn of the century, it was the prime determinant of the legacy and legitimacy of the political elites of the professedly centrist as well as leftist camps.  With political turbulence increasing in the country, the issue of secularism and communalism in political functioning continued to simmer as it was a political hot potato for garnering votes and alienating minority communities from right-wing politicians. Politicians made hay while the sun of pseudo-secularism shone on the political horizon of the country. The Congress party and its coalition partners or allies, backed by the Communist Parties, trumpeted their secular credentials while castigating the BJP for being non-secular. The communist political outfits sought popular support in the name of secularism and by shouting hoarse about the professedly communal credentials of the BJP.

This happened for full two decades of hoodwinking the masses till the game-changer general elections of 2014, which brought an overwhelming mandate to the BJP on the development agenda of Narendra Modi.

Educated and intelligent voters of today in India have amply understood the hollowness of the term called secularism as testified by the election results. Secularism is now a total non-issue for most of the Indian electorate. Development has taken the front seat, and rightly so.

To be secular is to be rational, scientific, even-minded and impartial. Actually, our culture and tradition transcend religion and religious differences. Hinduism which is fundamentally rooted in Vedic ideology is universalistic and hence innately secular. It is high time all of us understood this great truth and started dealing with the social, economic and political challenges accordingly. This understanding and realization are critical to the Indian nation’s progress to a place in the comity of distinguished, developed nations.

Being secular means not being irreligious but being above religion. Actually, religion is the observance of right conduct and moral uprightness. Religion is righteousness. It is a code of humanistic living in which the action of a person is conducive to the welfare of other humans, living beings and the physical environment. The intelligentsia in India really needs to abandon the usage of the terms secular and secularism and instead focus on strict adherence to the laws of the land and a universal moral code of conduct that applies to the entire humanity.

Communalism and Secularism are terms laden with political mischief. These terms are irrelevant in a society of educated, rational-minded individuals with a scientific outlook on life. The modern world of the twenty-first century is growing more rational and scientific by the day, as witnessed by increasing indifference by the younger lot towards traditional religion with its rituals. The attendance in the church is thinning in the west. So is the case with other societies across the globe. Apathy and disinterest toward ritualistic religion are widely witnessed even among the Indian youth. This is not a worrying sign. It only shows that with increasing scientific temper, the youth is attaching more importance to humanism. The youth of India is increasingly jumping the barriers of caste and religion in marriage, which is a standing testimony to the above statement. In the present scenario, it would be in the fitness of things to just stop talking about secularism and communalism and concentrate on humanism, for, all humans are the subjects of the one almighty creator.  

 

 

Secularism in the twenty first century India

Secularism in the twenty first century India

The word secularism has been imported into India from the west. In Indian tradition and civilization, there is no parallel word for secularism. No word is found in our historical texts or literature or scriptures precisely equivalent in meaning to this word. The reasons for this are not far to seek. The Indian culture is intrinsically secular, in the working sense of the word. Our accounts of the long periods of ancient history gleaned from texts or folklore also suggest the absence of discrimination among peoples on the basis of religion in the functioning of the governments.

Present India is a secular nation; its constitution is clearly secular in character. As stated above, Indian society over the centuries of ancient history has been secular in its thought, outlook and in ways of interaction with its members. Since the word secular is connected with the term ‘religion’, we have to look at the attitude of the majority Hindu community in India towards religion in social and political intercourse. The Hindu society is innately secular because of its theological threads which define religion and religiosity in a broad-based manner. The average Hindu has a universalistic view of religion and generally sees religion as humanism. To him, the mode of worship of a divine entity God is a secondary matter. To him, the scripture that a person follows is also of secondary importance. For precisely this reason, the Indian society has been traditionally tolerant and accommodative over the course of long world history.

India is still home to almost all the major religions in the world. It is also a fact of recorded history that India has offered a safe haven to the victims of religious persecution in all places across the world. People belonging to various religions who were excommunicated or driven out of their countries found refuge in India and ultimately settled here becoming one with the Indian society. This process of amalgamation witnessed through history is an eloquent proof of the secular ways of Hindu society. The term secularism finds roots in medieval West European society and culture where the governments of the day sought to reduce the hold of the church on the ruling class. There is no parallel or equivalent word for secularism in Hindi or Sanskrit, the prime native languages of India. Hence to use the word secular and secularism in the Indian context, in Indian society and in Indian politics is not only irrelevant but outright improper.

In India, the word ‘secularism’ had been used and misused for many decades after independence.  Till as late as the turn of the century, it was the prime determinant of the legacy and legitimacy of the political elites of the professedly centrist as well as leftist camps.  With political turbulence increasing in the country, the issue of secularism and communalism in political functioning continued to simmer as it was a political hot potato for garnering votes and alienating minority communities from right-wing politicians. Politicians made hay while the sun of pseudo-secularism shone on the political horizon of the country. The Congress party and its coalition partners or allies, backed by the Communist Parties, trumpeted their secular credentials while castigating the BJP for being non-secular. The communist political outfits sought popular support in the name of secularism and by shouting hoarse about the professedly communal credentials of the BJP.

This happened for full two decades of hoodwinking the masses till the game-changer general elections of 2014, which brought an overwhelming mandate to the BJP on the development agenda of Narendra Modi.

Educated and intelligent voters of today in India have amply understood the hollowness of the term called secularism as testified by the election results. Secularism is now a total non-issue for most of the Indian electorate. Development has taken the front seat, and rightly so.

To be secular is to be rational, scientific, even-minded and impartial. Actually, our culture and tradition transcend religion and religious differences. Hinduism which is fundamentally rooted in Vedic ideology is universalistic and hence innately secular. It is high time all of us understood this great truth and started dealing with the social, economic and political challenges accordingly. This understanding and realization are critical to the Indian nation’s progress to a place in the comity of distinguished, developed nations.

Being secular means not being irreligious but being above religion. Actually, religion is the observance of right conduct and moral uprightness. Religion is righteousness. It is a code of humanistic living in which the action of a person is conducive to the welfare of other humans, living beings and the physical environment. The intelligentsia in India really needs to abandon the usage of the terms secular and secularism and instead focus on strict adherence to the laws of the land and a universal moral code of conduct that applies to the entire humanity.

Communalism and Secularism are terms laden with political mischief. These terms are irrelevant in a society of educated, rational-minded individuals with a scientific outlook on life. The modern world of the twenty-first century is growing more rational and scientific by the day, as witnessed by increasing indifference by the younger lot towards traditional religion with its rituals. The attendance in the church is thinning in the west. So is the case with other societies across the globe. Apathy and disinterest toward ritualistic religion are widely witnessed even among the Indian youth. This is not a worrying sign. It only shows that with increasing scientific temper, the youth is attaching more importance to humanism. The youth of India is increasingly jumping the barriers of caste and religion in marriage, which is a standing testimony to the above statement. In the present scenario, it would be in the fitness of things to just stop talking about secularism and communalism and concentrate on humanism, for, all humans are the subjects of the one almighty creator.  

 

 

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