Communalism And Secular Politics In India Pdf

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Secularism is the principle seeking to conduct human affairs based on secular , naturalistic considerations. It is most commonly defined as the separation of religion from civic affairs and the state , and may be broadened to a similar position concerning the need to suppress religion in any public sphere. As a philosophy, secularism seeks to interpret life based on principles derived solely from the material world, without recourse to religion. It shifts the focus from religion towards "temporal" and material concerns.

Communalism – Meaning and Issues

Secularism is the principle seeking to conduct human affairs based on secular , naturalistic considerations. It is most commonly defined as the separation of religion from civic affairs and the state , and may be broadened to a similar position concerning the need to suppress religion in any public sphere. As a philosophy, secularism seeks to interpret life based on principles derived solely from the material world, without recourse to religion.

It shifts the focus from religion towards "temporal" and material concerns. There are distinct traditions of secularism in the West, like the French and Anglo-American models, and beyond, as in India , [4] where the emphasis is more on tolerance for all religions rather than separation. The purposes and arguments in support of secularism vary widely, ranging from assertions that it is a crucial element of modernization , or that religion and traditional values are backward and divisive, to the claim that it is the only guarantor of free religious exercise.

The term "secularism" was first used by the British writer George Holyoake in An agnostic himself, Holyoake argued that "Secularism is not an argument against Christianity, it is one independent of it.

It does not question the pretensions of Christianity; it advances others. Secularism does not say there is no light or guidance elsewhere, but maintains that there is light and guidance in secular truth, whose conditions and sanctions exist independently, and act forever.

Secular knowledge is manifestly that kind of knowledge which is founded in this life, which relates to the conduct of this life, conduces to the welfare of this life, and is capable of being tested by the experience of this life.

Secularism may be categorized into two types, "hard" and "soft". The "soft" variety emphasizes tolerance and liberalism. Although secularism is a modern concept, related ideas may be found in the works of ancient philosophers from many civilizations. Secularism emerged in the West with the establishment of reason over religious faith as human reason was gradually liberated from unquestioned subjection to the dominion of religion and superstition. The subsequent Enlightenment hailed Nature as the "deep reality" that transcended the corrupted man-made institutions of society.

Consequently, the rights of man were not considered as God-given, but as the de facto benefits of Nature as revealed by Reason. In recent times, secularism has been represented by such intellectuals as Robert Ingersoll , Bertrand Russell , and Christopher Hitchens. 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 Halakha , and Sharia with civil laws , and eliminating discrimination on the basis of religion. This is said to add to democracy by protecting the rights of religious minorities.

Separation of church and state is but one possible strategy to be deployed by secular governments. From the democratic to the authoritarian, such governments share a concern to limit the religious side in the relationship. Each state may find its own unique policy prescriptions. These may include separation, careful monitoring and regulation of organized religion such as in France , Turkey , and others.

A major impact on the idea of state religious liberty came from the writings of John Locke who, in his A Letter Concerning Toleration , argued in favour of religious toleration. He argued that government must treat all citizens and all religions equally, and that it can restrict actions, but not the religious intent behind them. Maharaja Ranjeet Singh of the Sikh Empire of the first half of the 19th century successfully established a secular rule in the Punjab.

This secular rule respected members of all races and religions and it allowed them to participate without discrimination in Ranjeet Singh's darbar and he had Sikh, Muslim and Hindu representatives heading the darbar. Secularism is most often associated with the Age of Enlightenment in Europe and it plays a major role in Western society. Secular states also existed in the Islamic world during the Middle Ages see Islam and secularism.

In accord with the belief in the separation of church and state, secularists tend to prefer that politicians make decisions for secular rather than religious reasons. Some Christian fundamentalists and scholars notably in the United States oppose secularism, often claiming that there is a "radical secularist" ideology being adopted in our current day and they see secularism as a threat to "Christian rights" [22] and national security.

It has been argued that in the US, the concept of secularism has frequently been misinterpreted. Jacques Berlinerblau wrote that "Secularism must be the most misunderstood and mangled ism in the American political lexicon", and that the religious right purposefully equated it to atheism, communism and other ideologies since the s.

The most significant forces of religious fundamentalism in the contemporary world are Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism. At the same time, one significant stream of secularism has come from religious minorities who see governmental and political secularism as integral to the preservation of equal rights.

Some of the well known states that are often considered "constitutionally secular" are the United States, [26] France , [27] India , [28] Mexico , [29] South Korea , and Turkey , although none of these nations have identical forms of governance with respect to religion.

For example, in India, secularism includes state involvement and restrictions in religion, while in France, secularism precludes state involvement in religion. In studies of religion, modern democracies are generally recognized as secular. This is due to the near-complete freedom of religion religious beliefs generally are not subject to legal or social sanctions , and the lack of authority of religious leaders over political decisions. Nevertheless, it has been claimed that surveys done by Pew Research Center show Americans as generally being more comfortable with religion playing a major role in public life, while in Europe the impact of the church on public life is declining.

Modern sociology has, since Max Weber , often been preoccupied with the problem of authority in secularized societies and with secularization as a sociological or historical process. Abrams , Peter L. Munby , among others.

Most societies become increasingly secular as the result of social, economic development and progress , rather than through the actions of a dedicated secular movement. George Holyoake 's publication English Secularism describes secularism as follows:. Secularism is a code of duty pertaining to this life, founded on considerations purely human, and intended mainly for those who find theology indefinite or inadequate, unreliable or unbelievable.

Its essential principles are three: 1 The improvement of this life by material means. Whether there be other good or not, the good of the present life is good, and it is good to seek that good.

Holyoake held that secularism and secular ethics should take no interest at all in religious questions as they were irrelevant , and was thus to be distinguished from strong freethought and atheism. In this he disagreed with Charles Bradlaugh , and the disagreement split the secularist movement between those who argued that anti-religious movements and activism was not necessary or desirable and those who argued that it was.

Contemporary ethical debate in the West is often described as "secular". The work of well known moral philosophers such as Derek Parfit and Peter Singer , and even the whole field of contemporary bioethics, have been described as explicitly secular or non-religious.

It can be seen by many of the organizations NGOs for secularism that they prefer to define secularism as the common ground for all life stance groups, religious or atheistic, to thrive in a society that honours freedom of speech and conscience. This is a common understanding of what secularism stands for among many of its activists throughout the world. However, many scholars of Christianity and conservative politicians seem to interpret secularism more often than not, as an antithesis of religion and an attempt to push religion out of society and replace it with atheism or a void of values, nihilism.

This dual aspect as noted above in "Secular ethics" has created difficulties in political discourse on the subject. It seems that most political theorists in philosophy following the landmark work of John Rawl 's Theory of Justice in and its following book, Political Liberalism , [39] would rather use the conjoined concept overlapping consensus rather than secularism.

In the latter Rawls holds the idea of an overlapping consensus as one of three main ideas of political liberalism. He argues that the term secularism cannot apply;. But what is a secular argument? Some think of any argument that is reflective and critical, publicly intelligible and rational, as a secular argument; [ Secular concepts and reasoning of this kind belong to first philosophy and moral doctrine , and fall outside the domain of the political.

Still, Rawl's theory is akin to Holyoake's vision of a tolerant democracy that treats all life stance groups alike. Rawl's idea it that it is in everybody's own interest to endorse "a reasonable constitutional democracy" with "principles of toleration". His work has been highly influential on scholars in political philosophy and his term, overlapping consensus , seems to have for many parts replaced secularism among them.

In textbooks on modern political philosophy, like Colin Farelly's, An Introduction to Contemporary Political Theory , [40] and Will Kymlicka's, Contemporary Political Philosophy , [41] the term secularism is not even indexed and in the former it can be seen only in one footnote. However, there is no shortage of discussion and coverage of the topic it involves. It is just called overlapping consensus, pluralism , multiculturalism or expressed in some other way.

It covers secularism in a global context, and starts with this sentence: "Secularism is a beleaguered doctrine. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Position that religious belief should not influence public and governmental decisions. Not to be confused with Irreligion or Secularity. Main article: Secular state. Main articles: Secular ethics and Secular religion.

Main article: List of secularist organizations. Oxford University Press, A Dictionary of Atheism. Oxford University Press. Shook, The Oxford Handbook of Secularism. In John L. Esposito ed. The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. Oxford: Oxford University Press. English Secularism: A Confession of Belief.

Library of Alexandria. The Reasoner. Archived from the original on Retrieved Shook In Phil Zuckerman; John R. Shook eds. The Oxford Handbook of Secularism. The Indian Express. Retrieved 4 June Lapidus October The Christian Post. The Huffington Post.


Throughout India's history, religion has been the most powerful single factor in the development of her civilization. Today, despite her religious tradition, India is emerging as a secular state. In this book, Donald E. Smith explores the origin of the concept of secularization as it is found both in Indian culture and in the example of the western nations. In addition, the success or failure of the secular state in India cannot fail to influence the attitudes of her neighbors. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press.

Theoretical Perspective of Communalism & Secularism

Anuradha Dingwaney Needham is Donald R. Longman Professor of English at Oberlin College. Romila Thapar, Sign In or Create an Account. Advanced Search.

The Crisis of Secularism in India


The Hindu nationalists who later came to populate the Bharatiya Janata Party BJP and its various ideological affiliates have consistently harbored a starkly different view; they envision India as a majoritarian nation-state, not a multicultural one. To understand these dynamics, it is necessary to define basic concepts and review relevant history. This is because political entrepreneurs who promote ethnoreligious identities—especially Hindu nationalist ideologues—have created much confusion around the notion of secularism, claiming that its proponents have endeavored to make the state hostile or indifferent to religion.

Communalism is a political philosophy and economic system that integrates communal ownership and confederations of highly localized independent communities. Murray Bookchin , a prominent libertarian socialist , defined the communalism he developed as "a theory of government or a system of government in which independent communes participate in a federation" as well as "the principles and practice of communal ownership". The term government does not imply acceptance of a state or top-down hierarchy.

This article re-opens the debate on secularism in India by looking at a religion and a region that has historically been marginal to this discourse, focusing on the way in which the Catholic Church has historically mediated the relationship between individuals and the state, among the fishing communities of South India. Radical clergy, many from fishing backgrounds, act as both organic and traditional intellectuals in the Gramscian sense, linking the traditional religious concerns of the Church to the secular interests of their parishioners. Likewise, villagers participate in Church-generated associations spaces to secure wider political goals. The paper concludes that certain forms of religious organisation in the public sphere might indeed be compatible with democracy, citizenship, and even secularism. On political platforms the debate has been waged between those who advocate a strict separation of religion and state the left-liberal position , to those who argue that Indian secularism has meant a tolerance of all religions and equal respect and patronage for them by the state, to those who argue for a form of Hindu theocracy Tejani

About this book

India is a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic as system of government. All that a secular state means that this Parliament shall not be competent to impose any particular religion upon the rest of the people. It is emphasized secular state of Indian democracy. Thus the state will remain secular as long as its citizens carry out their responsibility of self-government, in which they are aided because India has a political tradition that favours Secularism. Indian Constitution guarantees to all its citizens freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion and assures strict impartiality on the part of the state and its institution towards all religious.

Communalism is a political philosophy , which proposes that market and money be abolished and that land and enterprises to be placed in the custody of community. Development of communalism as political philosophy, has roots in the ethnic and cultural diversity of Africa. It is characterized as, People from different ethnic groups or community, who do not interact much or at all and this has somewhere acted as hindrance in the economic growth and prosperity of Africa. Communalism in South Asia is used to denote the differences between the various religious groups and difference among the people of different community. And generally it is used to catalyse communal violence between those groups.

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This is the full unedited text of the speech titled "Is India a Secular Nation? The lecture was suddenly cancelled three days before it was scheduled to take place. At the outset, I must say how happy I am to have this opportunity to address this august gathering in the memory of Late B. Deshmukh, one of the most illustrious civil servants of India. I had the privilege of working closely with him in the state and the centre.


  1. Eric D. 08.06.2021 at 08:23

    Indian Society. Different kinds of social like river waters, jobs or government funds – have to be shared. If you read the Before discussing the major challenges that diversity poses in India – issues such as regionalism.

  2. Raphael B. 09.06.2021 at 02:10

    Nehru's forward-looking programmes to undermine communalism they are moving in consonance with the general trend of Indian politics. The conflict between secular state and communal society in India can be resolved only through the.

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  5. Alina A. 14.06.2021 at 04:19

    Due to the peculiarities of the Indian society, the state-church conflict does not form part of the Indian political experience. None of the religions in India, with the​.