This article deals with topic titled ‘Secularism’.
Note : Note : This is part of our series on Society for UPSC examination. For more articles , click here.
Secularism is defined as the principle of separation of state from religious institutions and religious dignitories.
But nature and extent of separation may take different forms depending upon different values it intends to promote.
Religion is private affair of person and state passively respects all religions
Arm length distance is maintained between state and religion.
Laicite / Militant Secularism
In France, due to long battle against religious influence on laws and government, Laicite was introduced.
There is total separation between religion and state (ie religious activities and symbols are banned in public sphere).
French secularism has come under criticism that rather than promoting diversity, freedom of thought and multi-culturism , it is interfering with the basic right to religious self expression
The Indian idea and practice of secularism although was inspired by western ideas yet it is rooted in India’s unique socio-historic circumstances like religious diversity and support for all religions .
Based on this , features of Indian secularism are as follows
Wall of separation between state and religion is porous ie state can intervene in religion to promote progressive voices within every religion . Eg : Abolition of untouchability.
However, religion is strictly prohibited to interfere in state matters hence disallowing mobilisation of electoral support on religious line
Provisions regarding Secularism in India
Articles 25 to 28 => freedom of religion to all.
Articles 14, 16, 44 (Uniform Civil Code) and 51A, by implication prohibit the establishment of a theocratic state.
In the Kesavananda Bharati case the Supreme Court (SC) had declared secularism as a part of the basic structure of the Constitution.
Doctrine of Essential Practices by SC
Section 123(3) of Representation of Peoples Act 1951 prohibits political parties to ask for votes on religious lines
Rev Stanislaus vs State of MP held that forcible conversions is not included in right to propagate religion
Challenges to Secularism
Frequent recourse to revivalist events such as Ghar Wapsi etc. breeds fear amongst the minorities
Incidents of lynching
Communal Riots and Targeted Violence
Religious hate speech, falsification of history and dissemination of wrong information