Indian secularism far from 'ideal', all brinkmanship

An ideal secular state is essentially atheist, wherein religious organisations neither exercise political authority nor receive any privileges from governments, religious holidays are not prescribed.

Published: 23rd August 2020 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st August 2020 11:52 PM   |  A+A-

For representational purposes

PM Modi’s visit to Ayodhya for Ram Mandir’s bhoomi pujan has been criticised as anti-secular for he misused the state power to attend a Hindu religious function.

An ideal secular state is essentially atheist, wherein religious organisations neither exercise political authority nor receive any privileges from governments, religious holidays are not prescribed, state-funded educational institutions refrain from imparting religious education and religious functions are attended in purely private capacities.

His critics would have liked him to take half a day’s leave and Ram Janmabhoomi Trust to pay for expenses on his travels and security. They could not be more hypocritical.

Indian secularism is anything but ideal. It is practised as a means to promise and provide preferential treatment to Muslims who own 17 percent popular votes.

Since votes count in elections, political parties use secularism to scare Muslims from those who dare talk of ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’, an intent that aims at equitably distributing state resources among its citizens. 

The biggest beneficiary of communalised secularism has been the Congress. Keeping the 1977 election in mind, Mrs Indira Gandhi had added secularism in the Constitution through 42nd amendment to beat back the backlash against the Emergency excesses.

Finding this strategy work effectively, non-BJP political parties also started pandering to Muslims and succeeded in displacing the Congress from power in several states.

However, their mollycoddling has made no significant difference to the education, economy and wellbeing of the Muslim community. 

Brand-India secularism has made it very difficult for any alternative political, social, cultural and security narrative to take place in the country.

You are either for it or against it. It leaves no space for those who would like to view and react to situations objectively.

Because of electoral compulsions, it has forced even the BJP to play safe.

No wonder, there was no mention of the five judges of the Supreme Court during the bhoomi pujan ceremony but for whom the temple would have remained a chimera.

All previous judges had hedged and puffed to settle a dispute that historically dated back to 1853-54 and belief-wise, to thousands of years.

The Allahabad High Court, in a please-all judgement, had distributed the disputed land equally among three contending parties.

CJI Jagdish Singh Kehar offered to mediate in an out-of-court settlement, which was nothing but an exercise in buying time.

CJI Deepak Misra kept deliberating over the merit in rival litigants’ claim over the land until he retired. It was only CJI Ranjan Gogoi and his four colleagues who confronted the hoodoo of secularism headlong and judged the case on the basis of available evidences.

Hopefully, their judgement will find a place in the library of the Ram Temple complex.


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