The Oxford English dictionary defines ‘Secularism’ as the right to be free from religious rule and teachings. Article 25 of the Indian constitution defines secularism as keeping the state and religion separate and public decisions shouldn’t be influenced by religious beliefs. But, what is actually happening? Now days, it mostly means the state meddling with religion as much as possible and use the same for political gains. Therefore, if one wants to talk about secularism, the actual definition of the term needs to be understood.
The present state of ‘Secularism’ in India is not only appalling but also laughableSecularism has been reduced itself to merely a device for first creating fear, then exploiting that fear, and finally garnering votes out of that fear. The leaders who framed our constitution introduced the concept to maintain the plural values of our country which was good and they imagined that as time progresses this concept would be able to keep India united but what they didn’t foresee was the political greed and selfishness of the future politicians who twisted it, misused it, abused it, banked on it all in the name of change and equality. Secularism (or Pseudo-secularism) has succeeded in creating nothing but gap between religions, illusions around communities and has sowed the seeds of hatred.
In this ‘moth-eaten’ state of Indian secularism, some communities have been turned into a meaningless, demographic bloc that various political parties try to exploit at their own convenience. This has led to ghetto-isation of communities all over the country. The issue arises because political parties have created this perception of a ‘Vote-bank’. The attitude of these intellectuals and politicians has caused two prolonged problem. One, due to appeasement for the sake of vote-bank politics, no real development has taken place. Two, pampering one and antagonizing the other has pitched communities against each other. Secularism takes a further beating.
Playing secular-communal card is quite profitable in our country and it is a livelihood for many intellectuals, scholars and of course politiciansWhen you play this card, you don’t have to work. You don’t have to build roads. You don’t have to worry about setting up schools, universities and hospitals. Let the cities, towns and villages remain in perpetual darkness. Accountability? What’s that? You see, the secular fabric of the country is more important than development, and once certain persons and organisations start calling you secular, there is no need to do something else.
All you have to do is make sure that so-called communal forces are not able to assume power and destroy the pluralistic values of the country. And then, you constantly hammer into the psyche of one community that they are responsible for everything bad.
Say something pertaining to one community, you are communal, fascist, obscurantist, fundamentalist and hypocritical and say something pertaining to other, you are secular, liberal and intellectual. There is no middle path. In no way, you can be liberal and secular while supporting the later. This has tarnished the image of India to a great extent and it is only because of these phoney-secularists misusing the term for their own benefits.
Does an average Indian think like these intellectuals?Not at all. These theories are floated simply to put people who actually want to solve problems on the back foot and immerse them in a concoction of guilt and apology. These intellectuals actually want the problems to simmer forever because this gives them a chance to keep the minority community in a perpetual state of insecurity and this keeps the cauldrons of instability simmering for their political masters who depend on such instabilities. Had these self proclaimed secularists been truly secular, they would have considered every problem as it is, rather than mapping it over the co-ordinates of secular and communal. These are the people who, by antagonising communities, are actually divisive and sow the seeds of hatred among communities.
I think the real problem is: what do we conceive as the role of people in India? Are they merely to be voters in elections? Are they merely an instrument of political power or are they going to be citizens of India participating in every sense in the mainstream of Indian life? This ‘appeasement’ has not really contributed much to the social and economic lot. In order for India to be truly secular, the people of this country need to stop paying heed to the so-called secularists and consider themselves Indians, undivided Indians, proud Indians.
Introspection is difficult especially if attributing blame is easyIn the end, secularism begins in the heart of every individual. There should be no feeling of ‘otherness’ as we all have a shared history. India being a traditional society that contains not one, but many traditions owing their origin in part to the different religions that exist here, has so far managed to retain the secular character of the country. Are we going to let it all go waste and listen to people who have concern for their careers as politicians or leaders rather than the welfare of people at heart?
It’s never been about Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam or Christianity. It’s about India. The great nation which comes first and keeps us united, we are all proud Indians despite diversities of culture, languages, irrespective of all other colors and creed. Secularism is “Humanism”. But hey, we better call ourself secular; else someone might just wring my neck.
Exploiting your fellow men for mere votes and treating them as vote-bank is still called bigotry and chauvinism.
Written by Kartik Dora
Follow Kartik on twitter @kartikdora1