India needs a reinvented secularism 2.0 rooted in separation of religion and state
By Bhanu Dhamija – India’s ambitious experiment with freedom of religion has failed. Our insipid brand of secularism, based on states’ active engagement amid stated religious neutrality, has led to the appeasement of a few, but empowers none and brings injustice for all. Instead of uniting our society, it has fomented fragmentation and alienation among our diverse religious communities.
The Hindu majority has now risen against years of over-accommodation of the Muslim minority. This puts the country at risk of losing its tolerant and pluralistic democracy.
India today desperately needs a new definition of secularism, one based on freedom of religion, equality before law, and separation of religion and state. All of these requirements are essential for secularism to work in any country.
Indian secularism fails because it allows governments to grant religious freedoms, but not to treat religions equally.
The biggest failure in this regard began in the early years of the republic, when the government codified Hindu social customs into law but allowed Muslims to continue practicing Sharia law. For seven decades, the requirement of a uniform civil code has remained a Directive Principle in India’s Constitution.
Without constitutional restrictions on state sponsorship of religious activities, Indian secularism turned into a carte blanche for governments to do as they pleased. They began exploiting religious communities with special treatment, sops and populist slogans.
Today, the Modi wave among the Hindu majority has shattered the Nehruvian concept of secularism. And for good reasons; Nehru’s approach was impractical in its denial of all communal identities, and it was open to abuse by governments.
Now the majority is flexing its muscle and taking revenge for years of minority appeasement. This makes it all the more necessary that India adopt real secularism, lest the pendulum swing too far, and allow Hindu chauvinism to take over India’s democracy. more> https://goo.gl/reCSRzby