Thursday, July 08, 2004

Secularism in India = Minorityism

Secularism is one of those words found in the Indian English press that causes a lot of heartburn to the government and the people alike.

Secularism in is defined as follows.
1. Religious skepticism or indifference.
2. The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education.

The thing that is being peddled in the name of secularism in India is nothing like the dictionary meaning. Talk of taking a word and twisting its meaning!

I learned from an article on that the constitution of India did not have the word 'secular' in its preamble till 1976. In 1976, however, the senior Mrs Gandhi thought it fit to change the preamble to include secular. The chairman of the Constitutional committee, Dr Ambedkar had vehemently opposed the use of the word secular in the Indian constitution because in India, you have different personal law codes for Hindus and Muslims. And that is definitely not secular.

When Indira Gandhi did introduce the word in 1976, it was opposed and there was a subsequent move in the next few years by the Janata government to take that word out. They were unsuccessful because the Rajya sabha with a congress majority did not pass the bill.

An additional irritant is that Justice Ahmadi has refused to define secularism, stating that it was pretty elastic in meaning. What this has caused is that secularism has become tantamount to minorityism. And it is becoming close to 'anti-nationalism'.

Minorities are people like everybody else. They definitely deserve to live like people; they should have all the facilities that are accorded to everybody else. But that's it! Why do we need to pander to minorities ? Selfish political gain is the reason and if this continues, this may snowball from a controversy into a serious national law and order problem. I don't think anybody wants that.

But on the other hand, I think how this affects the common man. The common man is busy earning a livelihood. Why should he even bother about these 'academic' possibilities ? The problem that is important and needs to be thought of is that of national security. In the absence of a truly secular government where secular means the non-intervention of religion in government and vice-versa, these elements can rear their ugly heads.

In these days of terrorism by adherents of a faith that professes to be a religion of peace, we have to keep an eye out for such trouble mongers. And especially with the pesky neighbour in our north-west, peace efforts notwithstanding.

If the common man (including all Hindus, Christians and Muslims) is made complacent, then these trouble mongers can strike. Human Rights agencies cry hoarse whenever these terrorists are jailed. For example, when Parliament House was attacked by terrorists, these HR outfits actually campaigned for the release of these people.

Real secularism focuses on worldly welfare without bothering about religion. But minorityism which seems to be the norm in India will lead to the conditions in the paragraphs before. This mollycoddling of minorities, while apparently is for their good, leads to irreparable harm in the long run.

If a minority class is identified as such and branded and pampered, that class will never be part of the national mainstream. Real mixing with all kinds of people will not happen. As a result, minorities tend to live in a ghetto mentality which is a hotbed of all things problematic. Pampered classes (there are always exceptions, but this is more like the average behavior) will never bother to lift themselves up. When a class does not improve, its people get disgruntled. Their target will be the successful people in the country. Divisive forces can then fan this ember into a raging flame, which will lead to more pampering and bigger flames. These flames will burn everybody, even those sophisticated people who claim to be without religion and beyond nations and borders.

Open minds and open thinking is the order of the day. That has to be done by educating people. This will improve their economic lot and will make them think for themselves. When people are able to think for themselves, things will fall in their places.

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