Bhrigu's question

कभी जो याद भी आता हूँ मैं तो कहते हैं के आज बज़्म में कुछ फ़ित्ना-ओ-फ़साद नहीं - मिर्ज़ा ग़ालिब

Location: the valley, California, United States

Bay Area, Strategy Manager, Haas- U. C. Berkeley, Marathons

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The end of secularism

As we have seen here, here and here, the term secularism has been so redefined in Indian polity that it has lost its original meaning. There was no intent of disassociating religion with the state . In fact, the state, under the Congress, actively perpetuated a myth of secularism - only this time it actively contributed to communalism's step-child; minorityism.

Minorityism is the framing of laws and social mores that contribute to identifying Indians as separate communities through civil codes, reservations and other state sponsored acts. Such differentiation is often accompanied by victimisation.

For example, in essays such as these {and the subsequent comments thereafter}, while ostensibly referring to secularism, only identifies the minorities as victims and the majority community as the perpetrators of crimes. Thus, there is no mention of the ethnic cleansing in Kashmir. Neither to that in Bangladesh - which affects India since so many refugees come into India on a constant basis. There is no mention of the hundreds of Hindus killed in Punjab in the 80s. Hindus don't count at all as victims. If they do, they are referred to in passing, as in the case of the bomb blasts in Bombay . There is a distinct differentiation applied to such acts. They are called terrorist acts. In spite of being perpetrated by minorities, they are not recognized as patently communal acts.

Thus, there isn't any moral equivalence between acts of terror. To be truly secular, one needs to create that moral equivalence. To be truly secular, one needs to shed the baggage of minorityism and victimisation.

Secularism in India needs to be rethought.


Anonymous Sunny said...

Agreed, but how would you redefine it? It is impossible in a country like India to seperate the state from religion

10:10 AM  
Blogger Quizman said...

I would contend that it is not impossible. Articles 28 and 16 of the constitution should be re-written. But there is no political will.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Red said...

But is'nt your religious and cultural identity important for you as a person. Don't those rights need to be recognized.

If the riots in France show anything, its the need to recognise cultural identity. The days of imagining citizenship as being constituted by a single identity are long.

If anything Art.28 is inadequate. It allows minorities to run their own institutions but does not have any provisions for minority cultures and views in state run institutions.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Quizman said...

Your cultural/religious identity could be important to you as an individual, but it should not be state sanctioned - let alone be paid for, by the exchequer.

The participation of any individual in a state run institution should be determined by merit alone. Quotas are wrong.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Sunny said...

It's not that I disagree that the state should be seperate from religious activities. I'm just saying that in a religious country like India, where people don't readily seperate the two, it is difficult.

The political will is not there I think because it will raise all sorts of conundrums the politicians don't want to deal with.

Would be better to deal with it directly by finding a way to mix the two, but keeping religion at arms length.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Nitin said...


I think you make a very pertinent point. In a recent discussion on a Rediff columnist's blog, I came away disappointed because those championing 'secularism' had no real responses when challenged with how jihadi terrorism is to be defeated. There was a lot of evasiveness and clever re-framing, but nothing by way of serious answers.

The sad thing about India today is that those who state the objective reality --- that Islamic fundamentalists have hijacked religion --- are immediately painted as communalists of the saffron sort. The danger to India's secular future is as much from myopic, selective 'secularists' (what you have termed minorityism) as it is from the religious fundamentalists.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Quizman said...


Agreed. In the US, alternate viewpoints are now being recognized vis-a-vis issues related to the African American population. Unfortunately, even here, people who offer counter-viewpoints are lambasted by those who have set political ideologies, and perhaps other motivations.

12:46 PM  
Blogger doubtinggaurav said...

"In a recent discussion on a Rediff columnist's blog"

Will that be a gentleman who goes with perfect 3-D geometrical moniker ;-)

9:47 PM  

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