The Challenges of Cultural Diversity

The Challenges of Cultural Diversity


What are the different senses in which ‘secularism’ has been understood
in India?


Secularism : Its Varied assumptions in India

(i) If we assume secularism in the sense that a secular state is one that does not favour any particular religion over other's, we see India is a secular state but at the sametime, she provides subsidies for Haj pilgrimage or manages the Thirupati-Timmala temple where over two crore rupees per annum are sanctioned for maintenance of elephants and again, cash support is given for pilgrimage to Himalayan Holy places. It is an apparent contradiction. Moreover, India as secular state should not allow holidays on festivals of some religions except national holidays but such is not done here.

(ii) If India is secular, she does not prohibit slaughter of cows and if she does so, why the slaughter of pigs, goats, horses etc. is not prohibited.

(iii) If Sikh soldiers are allowed with turbans in army why Muslims are not allowed with long beard and Hindu soldiers are not With shaved head (Mundan) and a braid ? The communities other than those given such privileges frequently raise such objections but India has no reply to them-still the same system is running.

(iv) One side, India declares herself secular but at the same time monorities are given privileges or they are favoured.

People raise contention that this type of virtual secularism is a fraud or dodge for getting political support from minorities in the form of public-opinion or votes. It's vote bank policy a number of people from majorities allege while the minorities say that if such transformation is not adopted, it would be an imposition of majority community's values and norms on them.

Conclusion : In brief, it can be stated on the above practices of government of India that secularism here is suffering from ambivalence. It has two forms that run-parallel and this is the reason, a number of controversies emerge and social movements develop a vested interest in keeping them alive. This ambivalence should be removed and a sound principle is to be adopted in India.

More Chapters from The Challenges of Cultural Diversity