Secularism and Minorities in India

Posted by Mohd Ashraf Ansari
August 29, 2017

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 “Democracy demands that the religiously motivated must translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific values. Their proposals must be subject to argument and reason. And should not be accorded any undue automatic respect”

                                                                                                          By- Barack Obama.

India is a country of salad bowl of diversity but it is a great example of unity in diversity. It is a requirement of every nation that it will respect all the caste, religion and creed so they feel themselves as a part of nation. In democratic nation all citizen should have a believe that there right and freedom is secured by their nation even in the preamble of Indian constitution, it is given that India is secular country so it became important to discuss the implication of laws for their  rights in India. The dictionary meaning of the word ‘secularism’ is skepticism in matters of religion. But we, in India, use the work in a broader sense. We use the word to mean impartiality or non-interference by the Government of the country in matters of religion. Independent India is one of the largest states in the world of today with a population of nearly 120 million. This vast population is made up of people professing different religions like Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity etc. and practicing different religious rites. A secular nation can be described as “a state whose population enjoys fundamental rights completely without any discrimination of race, color, and creed. Secular nation assures equal respect of religion, caste and creed. Political secularism is most talk able issue in India, some state there is separation of religious activities from those of the state, customarily referred to as “the separation of church and state” in the west. The concept of secularism may be characterized as maximum separation between state and religion except on manifest grounds of morality, health and public order. If we talk about minorities than we find out that in Indian Constitution there is no defined form of minorities who are considered as minority in India and on what circumstances it is considered as minority where as secularism seeks to ensure and protect freedom of religious belief and practice for all citizens. Secularism is not about curtailing religious freedoms; it is about ensuring that the freedoms of thought and conscience apply equally to all believers and non-believers alike. Secularism seeks to defend the absolute freedom of religious and other belief, and protect the right to manifest religious belief insofar as it does not impinge disproportionately on the rights and freedoms of others. Secularism ensures that the right of individuals to freedom of religion is always balanced by the right to be free form of religion.

Although the word ‘Secular or Secularism was not expressly mentioned anywhere in the Indian constitution, yet the concept of secularism runs through its entire structure. The constitution makers have enshrined its basic outlines in the constitution and the sum total of relevant provisions makes India more secular than even the United States of America. However Art. 25 & 26 constitute the essence of the doctrine of Indian secularism. They guarantee to all religions practiced in India fundamental freedom of conscience and free profession practice and propagation of religion as well as fundamental freedom to manage religious affairs. These articles thus make it absolutely clear that though the Hindus constitute a very large majority in India yet Hinduism is not the religion of the state. The basic philosophy of secularism that religion has no relevance to secular matters is well illustrated by Art-17 which abolishes untouchability. Art 44 of the Indian constitution which requires the state to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India is another shining example of the significance that has been attached to secularism in our country. However, decidedly mere pertinent in this context is the chapter on the Fundamental Rights which cover all the citizens of India achieve irrespective of their religions.

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