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UNDERSTANDING SECULARISM

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UNDERSTANDING SECULARISM

  1. 1.  Secularism is the concept that government or other entities should exist separately from religion and / or religious beliefs.  Secularism, also called Secularity or (adjectives: Secular or non religious) is the idea of something
  2. 2.  Secularism draws its intellectual roots from  Greek and Roman philosophers  Medieval Muslim polymaths (people of great or varied learning)  Enlightenment thinkers  Modern freethinkers (people who have rejected authority and dogma, especially in religious thinking, in favor of rational inquiry and speculation)  Agnostics  Atheists
  3. 3. It has been argued that secularism is a movement toward modernization, and away from traditional religious values.
  4. 4.  In political terms, secularism is a movement towards the separation of religion and government (often termed the separation of Church and State). This can refer to:  Reducing ties between a government and a state religion  Replacing laws based on scripture (such as Torah and Sharia law) with civil laws  Eliminating discrimination on the basis of religion  This is said to  add to democracy
  5. 5.  India  France  Mexico  South Korea  Turkey But none of these nations have identical forms of governance
  6. 6.  Secularism in India means equal treatment of all religions by the state. Unlike the Western concept of secularism which envisions a separation of religion and state, the concept of secularism in India envisions acceptance of religious laws as binding on the state, and equal participation of state in different religions.
  7. 7. A 19th-century Hindu temple in Khajuraho India, incorporating a Hindu spire, a Jain cupola, a Buddhist stupa and a Muslim style dome, in place of the usual shikhara
  8. 8. Ellora caves, a world heritage site, are in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The 35 caves were carved into the vertical face of the Charanandri hills between the 5th and 10th centuries. The 12 Buddhist caves, 17 Hindu caves and 5 Jain caves, built in proximity, suggest religious co- existence and secular sentiments for diversity prevalent during pre-
  9. 9.  With the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution of India enacted in 1976, the Preamble to the Constitution asserted that India is a secular nation. However, neither India's constitution nor its laws define the relationship between religion and state. According to the Constitution, only a secular State can realise its objectives to ensure the following: 1. That one religious community does not dominate another; 2. That some members do not dominate other members of the same religious community; 3. That the State does not enforce any particular religion nor take away the religious freedom of
  10. 10.  First, it uses a strategy of distancing itself from religion.The Indian State is not ruled by a religious group and nor does it support any one religion. In India, government spaces like law courts, police stations, government schools and offices are not supposed to display or promote any one religion.
  11. 11.  The second way is through a strategy of noninterference. This means that in order to respect the sentiments of all religions and not interfere with religious practices, the State makes certain exceptions for particular religious communities.
  12. 12.  The third way is through a strategy of intervention. Untouchability. This is a good example where members of the same religion (‘upper-caste’ Hindus) dominate other members (some ‘lower castes’) within it. In order to prevent this religion-based exclusion and discrimination of ‘lower castes’, the Indian Constitution bans untouchability.
  13. 13.  The intervention of the State can also be in the form of support. The Indian Constitution grants the right to religious communities to set up their own schools and colleges. It also gives them financial aid on a non preferential basis.
  14. 14.  Unlike the strict separation between religion and the State in American secularism, in Indian secularism the State can intervene in religious affairs.  Indian Constitution intervened in Hindu religious practices in order to abolish untouchability.  In Indian secularism though the State is not strictly separate from religion it does maintain a principled distance vis-à-vis religion. This means that any interference in
  15. 15.  The Indian State is secular and works in various ways to prevent religious domination. The Indian Constitution guarantees Fundamental Rights that are based on these secular principles. However, this is not to say that there is no violation of these rights in Indian society. Indeed it is precisely because such violations happen frequently that we need a constitutional mechanism to prevent them from happening. The knowledge that such rights exist makes us sensitive to their violations and enables

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