Indian Secularism

On the papers of our constitution India is a “Sovereign, Socialist, Secularist and Democratic republic”, but a closer look at the gargantuan and complex subcontinent reveals a blindingly clear disharmony between the dreams and aspirations of our constitution makers and the current predicaments of our country.

A country where a dynasty of politicians had firmly held the power for the better part of half a century can no more claim to be democratic than a country where capitalist-overlords get off the hook from severe offenses can call itself socialistic.

Calling ourselves a sovereign nation, when chunks of our sovereign territory, comparable in size with some European countries, are occupied by two other foreign powers, could be deemed as wishful thinking.

But our one redeeming value, which much of our intellectual circle prides itself on, is secularism. Well, at least our version of the term.

In the majority of countries that claim to be secular; secularism stands on three fundamental policies-

  • Freedom of Religion
  • Equal Rights to all citizens regardless of their religion or lack thereof.
  • The separation of the Church and the State
  • The former of these are questionable as well. But the separation of the Church and the State is unquestionably absent in our democracy, as a result the government can be called anything but secular.

Judgements such as allowing a certain demographic to carry a dagger into places, where weapons can jeopardize the safety of others, or allowing another people group to abuse their womenfolk through malpractices such as polygamy and the infamous “teen-talaq” system, in the name of religious freedom, demolish India’s claim to secularism.

My personal opinion also deems India not a secular, but a state wherein the Government appeases different demographics, passing laws that have been unanimously ridiculed and mocked for their lack of basic civil virtues.In a country where only the Hindus and Sikhs voted for the Uniform Civil Laws, and in turn are labelled non-secular and rightwing for standing up to the historical evils done to their community. While the religions of our former colonial masters, who starved millions in Kerala and West Bengal who refused to convert to their faith, and that of the stone slingers of Kashmir and of an astonishing percentage of all the terrorist groups, are labelled peaceful and democratic.

What India needs direly is a strong and ruthlessly secular, who has the decisiveness to curb unnecessary freedoms extended to different religious groups, regardless of their being a minority, aspects of such a leader could be seen in the late Indira Gandhi and can be seen, even though a bit obscurely in our current Prime Minister.

By Ms Shradha Goyal

Assistant Professor

JIMS Kalkaji

sardha goel



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