Secularism In India -- A Brief Study - By Kamaluddin Khan
By Kamaluddin Khan,
The challenges of castism, communalism and religious fundamentalism, involving separatism and violence in India, are the major threats to our secular polity. They weaken the working and stability of our secular federal system and militate against the basic principles governing our national life and providing meaning to our new identity. Our national movement was the biggest and the most widespread anti-imperialist movement in world history, because it was a movement of all patriotic elements drawn from the diverse regions, language groups, religious communities, castes, and tribes, urban and rural segments. Inter-communal and inter-caste tensions and violence over the years have disturbed national peace and order. In recent years there have been recurrent and increasing number of communal riots, caste carriages and linguistic animosities. This disruptive element should be suppressed with firm step if India is to emerge as a demo critic secular polity. Secularism is one of the major instruments for building a modern polity. It is one of the fun damental values of our national life, emphasized by the national movement and the founding fathers of the Republic. In the Indian context, secularism and communalism are considered to be binary opposites. Secularism is a sign of modernity, plurality, co existence, rationalism and developing with a fast growing multicultural society. Communalism, which some consider as being based on love of one's community, has come to acquire the derogatory meaning of an attitude that is narrow, based on prejudices about the 'other' and almost based on hatred and violence. In India to pursue communal politics as religion is the main identifying factor and also acting against the interests of the 'other'. In the politics of the '1990s the essentially ehruvian notion of secularism itself began to be challenged, without being totally rejected. In this context it is important to see what the term means or was meant in the making of the constitution and thereafter. Its origin can be traced to the western world view. It is, therefore, important to understand its philosophical base to fully appreciate its connotation, its importance and its limitations. The word secular is derived from the late Latin sacularis which meant, among other things, 'that which belongs to this world, non-spiritual, temporal as opposed to spiritual or ecclesiastical thing'. It is a form applied in general to the separation of state politics or administration from religious matters, and 'secular education.' is a system of training from which religious teaching is definitely excluded. Secularism which bean as a protest movement in the West, was a by-product of the chartist movement and cam., iv birth after the collapse of the revolutionary hopes which had been inspired by the European, revolutions of 1848. Philosophically, the term reveals the influence of positivism and utilitarianism. 'Positivism supplied a conception of knowledge affording a basis upon which it was held that religious considerations could be ruled out and utilitarianism lent itself to a non-religious explanation of the motives and ends of conduct'. The relation of secularism to religion was defined as 'mutually exclusive rather than hostile'. Neither theism nor atheism enters into the secularist scheme because neither provable by experience. The term secularism was coined in 1850 by G.J. Molyoake (an Owenite Socialist, an atheist and the last person to be imprisoned for blasphemy in Britian), who saw it a movement , which provided an alternative to theism. historically, secularism intermingled with and was at its best with atheism. Atheists like Charles Bradluagh, Charles Watts, G.E. Forte were closely associated with the movement. Bradlaugh argued that secularism was bound to contest theistic belief and that material progress was impossible, so long as superstitions born out of...
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