Secularism: It means equal respect for all the religions. The state does not profess any religion and it treats all the religions alike. India is a secular state.
Coercion: Forcing someone to do something. In context of this chapter, it refers to the force exercised by a legal authority such as the state.
Intervene: In this chapter, the term refers to the state’s efforts to influence some matters according to the principles of the Constitution.
Freedom to interpret: This refers to freedom that all the individuals may interpret things in their own way. In this chapter, it refers to the liberty of the individuals to develop their own understanding and meaning of the religion they practice.
Minoritism : It means that Indian secularism gives special privileges and rights to minorities.
It means equal respect for all religions. The state does not profess any religion any religion and it treats all the religions alike. India is a secular state.
The purpose of secularism is to promote justice , freedom and equality by human beings and educating the society.
The basic features of a secular state are as follows :
(i) State should not have its own religion.
(ii) State should not be governed by any religious ruler.
(iii) State should not be a theocratic state.
(iv) State should not discriminate against any religion.
(v) State should promote equality and justice in social and religious groups.
(vi) Giving aid to religious educational institutions on the basis of equality.
(vii) No patronage to any religion and no discrimination against any religion.
(vii) Citizens are entitled to freely profess, practice and propagate the religion of their choice in which they have faith.
According to the Indian Constitution, Indian secularism is:
(i) The state neither enforces any particular religion nor takes away the religious freedom of individuals.
(ii) One religious community does not dominate.
There is one significant way in which Indian secularism differs from the dominant understanding of secularism as practised in other countries, such as U.S.A. This is because unlike the strict separation between religion and the state in American secularism, in Indian secularism, the state can intervene in religious affairs. This means that any interference in religion by the state has to be based on the ideals laid out in the constitution.
The American concept of Secularism means the separation of religion and state. They both have separate sphere of their own jurisdiction. No religious classification can be on the basis of any public policy. State cannot aid any religious institution. It cannot extend financial support to educational institutions run by religious communities. Religion is totally a private matter and not a matter of state policy or law.
(i) In U.S.A, the Constitution forbids the legislature from making any law, that can help the cause of founding of a religion or free exercise of any religion or religion related activity.
(ii) The legislature cannot declare any religion as the official belief and nor it can give preference to any religion.
(iii) In U.S.A., the state is separate from religion, which means state or religion cannot interfere in spheres of each other.
India followed three approaches to ensure secularism in India as :
(i) Firstly, it follows the policy of estrangement from any religion. The government of India does not support any religion or related regime and it never allows its premises to organise any religious activity.
(ii) Secondly, it follows the policy of non-interference. The government, in order to respect the sentiments of all religions and religious practices, has made certain exceptions for religious traditions and rites, e.g. Sikhs are allowed to wear pugri (turban) anywhere.
(iii) Thirdly, it follows the policy of intervention in matters, which can affect society, e.g. the government made laws to abolish untouchability prevailing in Hindu religion.
Grounds of criticism of Indian secularism
(ii) It is based on vote bank politics.(ii) It is impracticable.(iv) It is anti-religious.Due to development of science and technology, education and means of communication, people became broad-minded. They struggled against exploitation, aggression and harassment and have brought the idea of secularism to achieve equality, justice and freedom and to remove discrimination among them.India is indeed a secular state. It means that the state has no religion of its own. The state is neither religious nor anti-religious. In the Indian Constitution, from Articles 25 to 28, Right to Freedom of Religion has been granted to all persons residing in India. According to Article 25, subject to public order and morality, everybody is entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely practice and propagate the religion of their choice. The Government of India or any other person cannot interfere in the religious affairs of the individuals, otherwise the citizens have the right to go to the court.
Untouchability is regarded as a Social Evil
(i) It is an evil as it spreads inequality in society, creating disturbances and where there is lack of peace, there is no happiness and there can be no social justice. These are referred as Depressed Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Local names for the ‘untouchable communities vary in different parts of India: Bhangi, Pakhi, Chandala etc.
(ii) They were discriminated against in many ways. They lived on the outskirts of villages. The mere sight of them was considered as “bad omen'”. Not only were they restricted in terms of space, but their houses were also supposed to be inferior in quality and devoid of any facilities like water and electricity.
(iii) Their jobs included tanning leather, making and fixing shoes, and washing clothes.
Pledge of Allegiance
The children in the government schools of US start their day by taking the Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge of Allegiance to the United States is an oath of loyalty to the republic of the United States of America. The Pledge has been modified four times since then, with the most recent change adding the words “under God” in 1954. The Pledge of Allegiance reads: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”.
Theocratic state : A state governed directly by a priestly order is called theocratic. The Theocratic states, such as the Papal states of Europe in medieval times or the Taliban controlled states, lacking separation between religious and political institutions are known for their hierarchies and oppression and reluctance to allow freedom of religion to the members of other religious groups.
Indian Secularism is different from rest of the world in the following ways :
(i) In India, the objectives for secularism laid-down by the Constitution of India are same on some points, but the major difference we find is the clause of State intervention in religious affairs.
(ii) This clause allows the State to deal with any issue related to religion, which affects a society broadly.
(b) In India, the Fundamental Rights are based on the principle of secularism.
The first constitutional amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the legislature from making any law with respect to a religion. Also, it prohibits the free exercise of religion. In the United States, the religious civil liberties are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise there of; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.