There exists a wide gap between the constitutionally professed secularism and its practice in India. Do you agree? Substantiate with relevant arguments.
Secularism refers to the separation between state and religion. In India, it further means equal protection and respect for all religions.
Constitutionally professed secularism:
- Article 15 and 16 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion.
- Article 29 and 30 gives the right to protect distinct cultures and also run minority educational institutes.
- Articles 25 to 28 protects freedom of religion.
Sync between constitution secularism and its practices:
- Indian government actively promotes and protects religions through schemes like
- PM Janvikas Karyakram – seeks to provide better socio-economic infrastructure facilities to the minority communities.
- USTTAD Scheme – aims to preserve the heritage of traditional arts and crafts of minority communities.
- Nai Roshni – a Leadership Development Programme for Minority Women.
- Naya Savera – aims to empower the students belonging to minority communities.
- Provision of holidays on major festivals of all religions and their celebration throughout India.
- Non-interference in religious matters as enshrined in Shirur Mutt Case where “essential practices” are protected.
- However, India has targeted evil practices like untouchability and triple talaq.
- Allowing the public expression of religious diversity like Sikhs can carry Kirpans.
The gap between constitutional secularism & its practices:
- The presence of communalism and religious violence denies the freedom to practice religion.
- Caste and religion-based identity politics despite its prohibition in the Representation of People’s Act.
- Fear of assimilation of smaller religions into larger homogenous groups.
- The state’s involvement in religious affairs hampers its secular credentials.
- Unequal growth and development among religions.
Thus, there is a need to strengthen secular credentials in India as it is a part of the basic structure of our constitution.