Dr. Samuel Johnson, an English author once said, “Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth and every man has a right to knock him down for it”.
Call it ignorance or innocence that I considered Indians as Hindus until 12th when one of my friends said he was not Hindu but a Jain. That really came as a shock and since then it still persists. But the more important question here is, are we as a nation practicing secularism in the right way? Or it’s once again another tool to pool the vote bank of politics? The obscurity of Indian politics also keeps a murky darkness over the two big terms-Secularism and Pseudo Secularism. The word “secular” was inserted into the Preamble of our Constitution by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, during the Emergency in India. It implies equality of all religions and religious tolerance. In other words, India does not have an official state religion. Every person has the right to preach, practice and propagate any religion they choose. The government must not favour or discriminate against any religion. It must treat all religions with equal respect.
Now the question is, how can the term pseudo secularism evolve; when you pretend to be something and preach something different. It is the state of implicit non-secular trends in the face of pledged secularism. The term is used by groups who perceive a double standard exhibited within the established secular governing policy towards culturally different groups. Salman Rushdie rightly said, “Secularism in India, is not just a point of view, it is a question of survival”.
The Hindutva brigade too never misses an opportunity to use religion to suit their vested interests. From Advani’s disastrous Rath Yatra in 1990 to build a Ram Temple in Ayodhya, to the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992 and the 2002 communal pogrom in Gujarat, the proponents of Hindutva played the villain role to the perfection. Even though there were credible intelligence reports, which were released later in which Advani was quoted as saying, “A temple of Rama Lala, who represents the religious beliefs of Hindus, will be constructed at any cost through kar seva. No power can stop it”. In any real secular country, a person, who is under the oath office and insults a religion and acts as a source of misunderstanding between communities, would have been prosecuted. The case against L K Advani hasn’t so far seen the light of the day. Even under the Indian laws, Karunanidhi he had violated Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code which states “Deliberate or malicious acts intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs” by saying-Ram was a drunkard; which according to him never existed.
We are indeed passing through turbulent times because it is not clear to us what the moorings of our culture are, and also what kind of India we want to build. But the good thing is that the pandemonium among politicians over religious issues has lesser effect on young minds especially in colleges. Call it more tolerance towards such fragile subjects or realizing the breed of insensible politics. It is to be apprehended that we cannot live a religious life unless we identify ourselves from the whole mankind. A true secularist does not know any religion apart from human activity.
It’s on us to root out the ideological warfare between secular and pseudo-secular groups and build one India.
The writer is an Intern at Youth Ki Awaaz.