India is a secular country. I was taught to believe in this since I started to read primary level civics. Many of my western friends, the Canadians and the Americans furrow their brows on learning about the kind of secularism that we have in India. The Preamble of the Indian Constitution says that India is a secular country. The Fundamental rights endow every Indian the freedom to practice and propagate any religion. So, what is the difference between Indian kind of secularism and western secularism?
India is a highly religious country. Can we compare its religiosity with Middle East and US? Yes! During the partition of a Greater India, religious riots broke out in different cities and villages of the country. Even before the birth of Congress, that led an active role in the Indian Independence movement, political parties were taking sides with different religions and were busy dividing people on the lines of Hinduism and Islam. The Indian Muslim League voiced their concern for the welfare of Indian Muslims after the British would leave the country. Their solution – They asked for a separate country for themselves. The Muslim half of a Greater India is today called Pakistan. Thousands of people were killed; Millions were displaced during the partition of India and Pakistan. Many right wing Hindu parties, e.g. Hindu Mahasabha were asking for India to become Hindustan, i.e. the land of Hindus. But fatefully, the fathers of the Indian constitution were secular. The first Prime-Minister of India was an atheist. So, India adopted Secularism as its central political theme around which the nation would move and progress. Pakistan on the other hand vowed to follow Sharia and Islam.
The way India was born again on 15th August, 1947, the politicians had to be very, very careful in deciding about the kind of Secularism they wanted to instill in their constitution. It couldn’t be ‘’The Caesar and God theory’’ like in the west. The Indian politicians couldn’t draw a barbed wire between politics and religion. Religion dominates the way of life in India, so you can never remove the effects of religious belonging and adherence from either the minds of voters or the public representatives. But the Indian government will not promote any religion. As written in the constitution, the Indian states cannot have their own religion or caste. Government will keep a distance from the religious beliefs of people but it will tolerate their beliefs and would never do anything to offend them. This is where Indian secularism ends and gets confused.
As per the western model of secularism, a public funded institution must not have any religious institution or symbol in it. Though, I am not saying anywhere that countries like US are following what their founding fathers had decided for the welfare and progress of their nation. They still pledge on Bible in the courts and keep a replica of the Tablet of Ten Commandments at public institutions. That’s not secular; that’s fraud. Banaras Hindu University is among the top universities in India. It was built with the donations collected by an avid humanitarian and believing Hindu, Madan Mohan Malviya. The funding for this University comes from the Central Government. Yet, there are numerous temples in the premise of the University. These Temples are very old and were built 100 years ago by the donations of Mr. Malviya himself. So, naturally I would say that it would be in a wrong taste to destroy such beautiful pieces of history and architecture. But still my mind cannot come to the level of understanding when I see the avid display of Hindu religion in a publically funded, Center of Learning.
I have already written about the plight of lower caste Hindus in India. Dr. BhimRao Ambedkar, the head of Indian constitution’s drafting committee was a lower caste Hindu. He proposed for affirmative actions for the strengthening of backward class Hindus in India. This gave birth to huge reservations in Jobs and College Admissions. Since that day, reservations based on castes have become a major point in the manifesto of all political parties. India is a democracy, so the politicians need only to worry about the majority votes. As Dalits are in Majority in many states, political parties compete against each other to give more and more free benefits to them. In one way, it has been a good move to bring lower caste Hindus into the mainstream. But in the second view, reservation seems to be just a corrupt way of the government to promote a religious agenda among the public. People today have become more conscious about their castes. One would like to call himself a Dalit because he feels empowered because of that. Why should someone grow over his religious dogmas? One can get a good job and education in even the best colleges in India if he belongs to the right caste. Many states have now identified even backward Muslims and Christians as Dalits. So, in the name of helping poor Muslims and Christians, Politicians are playing nefarious games to attract them towards their side by giving them free lunches at the expense of the taxpayers.
Indian Secularism says that Indian government will always be tolerant towards religion. But what does that even mean? Does it mean that Indian government and Judiciary will accept the barbaric practices of Sharia law and Animal sacrifices? Does it mean that Indian police will keep a dumb and deaf attitude towards the Faith-Healers and Frauds like Nirmal Baba and Zakir Naik? Yes, it will. Muslims already have the freedom to believe and act according to Sharia law in case of Civil Cases like Divorce and marriage rights. While a Hindu can marry only one woman, a Muslim has legal rights to marry 4 women, only because his religion says so. It is necessary for every Indian to wear a helmet while driving a motorcycle. But, only because a Sikh wears a turban, he is free from this legal necessity. This is all because the fraud Indian secularism tolerates his belief.
If people want to believe in a faith healer on the basis of their ‘’whatever’’ religion, Government will not interfere. This practice has given a free run to a hoard of charlatans in India. Politicians basically do not have any religions. They just want to rule and gain votes. If a Hindu born politician can get votes by kissing the ‘’Ass’’ of Muslim Maulvis, he will do that. Congress is one of such Ass-Kisser in the modern times. Recently, the Delhi High Court has ordered that Muslims can marry a girl at the age of 15 if she has started menstruating. It is a shame that a nation like India which boasts itself on its GDP strength and rapid social development will allow some of its men to rape young girls in the name of their pathetic religion. But what could the Delhi High Court do when its hands are tied by the chains of a fraud secular ideology. Court can only make any decision inside the boundaries of its nation’s constitution. “This Court notes that according to Mohammedan Law a girl can marry without the consent of her parents once she attains the age of puberty and she has the right to reside with her husband even if she is below the age of 18….,” a bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and SP Garg said. So, now we are going to allow Pedophilia in our country, all in the guise of Religion and a flawed version of Secularism that is nothing but a whore in the hands of politicians and religious nuts.
Where will this bullshit end? We Indians need to decide.