Updated: Nov 23, 2021
Secularism is an ideal which explains the relationship of the Government and the religion. In its real sense, secularism separates law from religion so that there exists no religious bias. However, in India, secularism is used in the sense that neutralizes religious aspects, meaning that the state is neutral to all religions. The most relevant need of secularism was to nullify the “divide and rule” policy that was established by the British in their span of rule over India. Secularism as a word has been borrowed from the “western culture” and placed into the Indian Preamble by the respected members of the “modern India”, to let the world know that the state of India does not support and specific religion of the state, that all people are equal in the eyes of the Government and the law for the sole purpose of peace and harmony.
The ideal of “Secularism” was put into the picture via the Forty Second Constitutional Amendment in the year 1976. The Preamble of the Indian Constitution, after the amendment, declared that the state of India is a “secular” state.
The real sense of secularism is, however, one of the controversial and sensitive topics in India and is in a way bringing bigotry in the people of India. Even though India separates religion from its states, personal laws such as marriage laws in India are religion-specific. This distinction in its self raises valuable doubts in the minds of the people on whether India actually appreciates and follows the accurate idea of secularism as stated in its Preamble or is it, according to its own convenience, selectively secular and sometimes even pseudo-secular.
No country, in the current times, is or can follow complete secularism; however; the objectives of secularism keep on changing and evolving in India. Even with a majority of Hindus, India gives equal status to its minorities; however, this ideal changes according to the change in the Government, especially in the centre. Even after 70 years of independence, Goa is the only state of India which has a Uniform Civil Code. Being secular clearly means being neutral, religiously. The truth remains that in India, we have a rather curious case of “pseudo-secularism” that clearly means the conciliation of minorities by the state.
India is wearing hate in 2020 by way of banning the latest Tanishq advertisement. There existed a time when the famous channel Doordarshan had telecasted a song ‘Ek chidiya anek chidiya’ from a short animated educational film in the year 1974. The whole idea of the song rested in the unity showcased in the song even in a country like India with vast religious differences and cultural varieties. This song was an exact way to spread the message of unity in diversity amongst the people of the country that could still hear the sudden sharp pain of the partition of 1947.
However, after almost forty-six years later, it seems like the tables have turned. The then important message for unity has now been raided and banned in the country – the very well known Tanishq advertisement called ‘Ekatwam’. The latest advertisement showcased by Tanishq, ‘Ekatwam’, has been intensely criticized and questioned upon by the “secularists” of the nation. Being unapologetically criticizing the very idea of secularism has become a trend in India we are currently living. The advertisement showcases the blended love of Hindus and Muslims via a ‘pregnancy ceremony’ that is only done in Hindu households, yet the Muslim mother-in-law partakes in the ceremony and says that “keeping the daughter happy is the biggest ceremony of all”. The ‘Ekatwam’ advertisement depicts nothing but a true and complete sense of secularism that must be upheld in every country and not just in India. The major revelation in this advertisement is not only the representation of a compassionate mother-in-law but of a compassionate Muslim mother-in-law, which supposes to be a trigger for the “secularists” of India. Agreeing to the fact that various brands in India are subject to such mainstream and social media acquisitions and trolling, however, this move of withdrawing the advertisement by Tanishq has made it even more apparent that secularism is selectively applied in India and sparks a debate all over the country and even the entire world. This very negation of secularism does not show the tenderness of the theory, instead makes it communalized.
Not only this but most of the Politics in India is a game of caste and religion, as these 2 factors are the primary source that drives the Indians on a daily basis. Since religion is not private in India, the Governments (be it state or central) take complete advantages of it, especially during elections, which is why it is taken as vote bank considerations rather than real secularism.
In India, Secularism as an idea is prevalent in various debates; however, there exists confusion about the state of secularism here in ways that on the one hand a huge number of politicians swear by secularism and keep it as their election agendas as well, yet, on the other hand, all kinds of questions and confusions overwhelm Secularism in India. Understanding secularism from its roots is critical and is definitely the need of the hour. Secularism is not just an abstract idea, but a way of life which should be guarded and not just left for prey to the “pseudo secularists”. In a country like India, where there exist different cultures and communities within the same country, being neutrally supportive is the key to provide them with all the perks of a democracy.