A country is divided not based on its geographical features, but its unique citizens. Even though the underlying principle of India’s success is “Unity in Diversity”, often these differences do not play well with ethnic communities. The intrusion of religion in politics can only yield unwelcoming outcomes. This is where secularism comes in, an ideology that clearly states” Civic affairs should not have any basis in religion”. In 1851, the British writer George Holyoake coined this term, in a quest to replace the aggravating word ‘Atheism’. The main objective of this ideology is to make appropriate decisions without harming the integrity of any religion. In lamen language, he did not want secularism to be misunderstood with discrimination. Not involving certain topics in a decision-making conference does not necessarily mean we deliberately excluded them or seek to prejudice them.
Types of secularism
Based on the intensity of secularism, it can be divided into two types-hard and soft. Hard secularism is a radical option, which aims to completely disavow any stance the topic takes in political decorum. It renders any form of religious knowledge illegitimate. On the other hand, soft secularism finds its roots in neutrality, tolerance, and liberalism. It argues that attaining the “absolute truth” is not possible without proper deliberation and tolerance of religious issues in civic issues.
Secularism is also divided into three different types based on its application. These are political secularism, philosophical secularism, and socio-cultural secularism. All three overlap and are related to each other, yet they exhibit divergent traits and embody discrete meanings.
Secularism in India
India is a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society. From harboring Muslims, Christians, and Hindus to being the home of more than a hundred languages, our diversity is one that is marveled all over the world. Keeping in mind the conflicts of interest that might arrive with this heterogeneity, our leaders came up with an effective solution to keep the integrity of politics of this country intact. With the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution enacted in 1976, we declared ourselves a secular nation.
Secularism has always been an inspiration for modern India. We identify as a just nation that gives equal rights and opportunities to all its citizens despite their race, caste, or creed. But, the controversy surrounding Indian secularism has also had its share of attention. With many critics claiming that Indian secularism is “defrauded”, a good look at the positive changes bought about by this ideology might change the way they think about our nation.
One of the best examples of the success of the secularism amendment in India is Muslim Madrassas ( religious education schools) getting government funds. Or the fact that one of our own presidents, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, was a Muslim. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was a Sikh, whilst the party leader Sonia Gandhi was a Christian(Born in Italy). Time after time we have witnessed different communities get their fair share of opportunities, and produce fruitful outcomes, all because Indian secularism was, has, and will always be a success.
The term “secular” means being “separate” from religion or having no religious basis. Religion is open to one and all and is given as a personal choice to an individual without any different treatment to the latter.This is the ideology that has done wonders for the world.