Chapter 8 Secularism
Textbook Questions Solved
Which of the following do you feel are compatible with the idea of secularism? Give reasons.
(a) Absence of domination of one religious group by another.
(b) Recognition of a state religion.
(c) Equal state support to all religions.
(d) Mandatory prayers in schools.
(e) Allowing separate educational institutions for any minority community.
(f) Appointment of temple management bodies by the government.
(g) Intervention of state to ensrure entry of Dalits in temples.
(a) This idea is compatible because:
- Due to equality, majority of religious people will not dominate minority religious people.
- Minority religious people also enjoy freedom to practicise any belief, way of worship and to preach as well.
(b) It is not compatible because such situation prevails only in religious dominated state.
(c) Equal support to all religions by state cannot be provided because:
- One state can have 10 festivals to be celebrated where as the other may have only 2 or 4.
- The ways of worship are also different which is not possible for state to follow different methods.
- Hence, it should be left on religious community or individual’s will.
(d) It is not compatible because students, teacher and employees are free to adopt their own way to offer prayer.
(e) It is compatible to provide protection and security to people of minority religions group.
(f) It is not compatible to be the direct involvement of state and or government in religious affairs.
(g) It is compatible because:
- The weaker sections will not be denied the freedom to adopt any religion on ground of being lower caste.
- Secularism does not challenge only inter-religious intra-religions domination also.
- State’s efforts promote freedom within religions as well as equality among them.
Some of the key characteristics of western and Indian model of secularism have got mixed up Separate them and make a new table.
1. Strict non-interference of religion and state in each other’s affairs
1. State supported religious reforms are allowed
2. Equality between different religious groups is a key concern.
2. Equality between different sects of a religion is emphasized.
3. Attention to minority rights
3. Less attention to community-based rights
4. Individual and his rights at the centre
4. Rights of both individual and religious community are protected.
1. State supported religious reforms are allowed
1. Strict non-interference of religion and state allowed.in each other’s affairs.
2. Equality between different sects of a religion is emphasized.
2. Equality between different religious groups is a key concern
3. Less attention to a community-based rights. Individual and his rights at the center
3. Attention to minority rights. Right of both individual and religious communities are protected.
What do you understand by secularism? Can it be equated with religious tolerance?
- State has no religion of its own.
- No, discrimination among the people on the basis of religion.
- Every citizen is equal before law.
- Every citizen enjoys freedom to reside with freedom and dignity in any part of country.
Equating of secularism with religious tolerance:
- Religious tolerance is a powerful base of secularism, i.e. state has positive attitude due to sense of religious tolerance but they do not treat all seats equally.
- Secularism provide fundamental rights to minority religious groups within the dominion of state.
- The religious tolerance is not a right but a mutual sympathy.
- Secularism opposes to intra-religious domination because, if religious tolerance is allowed only, then the people of majority seat will dominate the people of minority seat.
- Indian secularism emphasises on peaceful co-existence refer to equal respect towards all religions and their practices and clarity in case of ambiguity.
- Under Indian secularism, religiously sanctioned caste-hierachy are not acceptable.
- Though secular state does not have to treat every aspect of every religion with equal respect, but it stops disregard towards the genuine aspects of other seats or religion.
Do you agree with the following statements? Give reasons for supporting or opposing any of them.
(a) Secularism does not allow us to have a religious identity.
(b) Secularism is against inequality within a religious group or between different religious groups.
(c) Secularism has a western-Christian origin. It is not suitable for India.
(a) It is opposed because secularism believes and supports protection of religious identity, as being a part of human rights.
(b) It is supported because:
- Secularism is not against inequality.
- It allows religious institutions.
- Secularism believes in equality of all religions.
- The people belonging to different religions or communities enjoy equal opportunity of jobs.
(c) It is opposed because:
- Secularism is neither have western origin nor it is not suitable for India.
- After independence, India has been declared a secular state not to interfere in the religious matters of individuals.
- Its example can be cited even from ancient history when Hindu and Buddhist rulers behaved equally with the people of different religions.
Indian secularism focuses on more than the religion-state separation. Explain.
- In India, secularism opposes all kinds of inter-religious domination and institutionalized religious domination.
- Indian secularism promotes freedom within religions, i.e. no discrimination on the basis of religion, colour, race, etc. and equality among different religions.
- India has promoted religious harmony to value peace, freedom and equality.
- Indian secularism seperates clearly the religious institution and state institutions.
- A secular state must be committed to the principle and goals of peace, religious freedom, freedom from religious oppressions, discrimination and exclusion of mier religious and intra-religious equality.
- Indian constitution declares that every citizen enjoys a right to reside with freedom and diginity in any part of country.
- India secularism follows all concepts related with principled distance.
Explain the concept of principled distance.
- To be secular, a state must not only refuse to be theocratic but also have no formal legal alliance with any religion because separation of religion-state is necessary but not a sufficient ingredient of a secular state.
- A secular state must be committed to principles and goals to be derived from non-religions sources including peace, religious freedom, freedom from discrimination and inter-religious and intra-religious equality.
- Secular states are neither theocratic nor establish a religion. Separation of religion and state is a mutual exclusion not to interfere in the affairs of religion and as well religion will not interfere in the affairs of state.
- No policy of the state can have an exclusively religious rationale because state and religion both exercise separate spheres of their own.
- The state cannot aid any religious institution or provide any financial support to religious communities as well as it cannot hinder the activities of religious communities which are within the broad limits set by law of land.
- Religion is a private matter and it is not a matter of state policy or law, i.e. if a religious community excommunicates its dissenters, the state can only be a silent witness.
Extra Questions Solved
Very Short Answer Type Questions
What do you mean by ‘secular’?
The term ‘secular’ promoter equal respect for all religions to develop such type of feelings.
What is ‘secularism’?
Secularism denotes the separation of the state and religion to provide a theory of life and conduct against one provided by religion.
What do you mean by ‘Dharma’?
‘Dharma’ is derived from Sanskrit word to refer to adopt, to sustain, to support and the principles of right.
What are main the dimensions of secularism?
- Secularism opposes inter-religious domination.
- It opposes intra-religious domination also, i.e. if everybody’s basic needs are fulfilled to lead a happy life, the religions will disappear.
Mention religions-based discrimination’s from Europe and Israel?
- Jews faced discrimination to continue to persist against non-Christians in many parts of Europe.
- In Israel, Arab minorities both Christians and Muslims are excluded from social, political and economic benefits available of Jewish citizens.
Mention the conditions of religious minorities in India’s two neighboring states of Pakistan and Bangladesh?
It has generated considerable concern for the Hindus and the Sikhs.
Mention the importance of Dharma?
Dharma prepares the individual to know the truth and right course of action alongwith highest virtue and spiritual efforts to subscribe moral actions.
What is a secular state?
The secular state deals with every individual a citizen only, i.e. a state is not associated with any religion or does not promote any religion also. It treats equally with all religions.
“ Some concerning examples of religious discrimination remind us to continuing importance of secularism”. Justify the statement.
- Subtle forms of discrimination continues do persist against non-Christians in several parts of Europe.
- The condition of religions minorities on the neighboring states of Pakistan and Bangladesh to generate considerable concern.
- Though jews faced discrimination for centuries throughout Europe, in the present state of Israel, Arab minorities, booth Christians and Muslims are excluded from social, political, economic benefits available to Jewish citizens.
What is Satya and Ahimsa?
‘Satya’ refers that each and every individual should follow the rules of dharma, i.e. not to perform any task to be harmful to others. ‘Ahimsa’ refers to non-violence, i.e. not to kill anyone to follow in thought, speech and action and resistance of evil by love.
SHORT Answer Type Questions
Mention some characteristics of secularism?
- Indian secularism does not interfere in the affairs of religions and religion is free from state polities also.
- Indian secularism goes ahead in the direction of combating communalism.
- Special care is given to the upliftment of the weaker sections of the people of country, i.e. special seats are reserved for the members of backward and depressed classes not only in admissions in public institutions but in public employments and elections also.
- The union and the state governments have also been given due representation to the minorities of country, i.e. Dr. Zakir Hussain, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as the President of India and Dr. Manmohan Singh as a Prime Minister of India, etc.
Give three most stark examples from India to prove that in reality several forms of exclusion and discrimination continue to persist even in a declared secular state of India?
The Constitution of India declares India a secular state giving fundamental rights of religious freedom to its all citizens. Still, in reality several forms of exclusion and discrimination continue to persist:
- Nearly four thousand Sikhs were massacred in Delhi and many other parts of the country in 1984 flare-up and the families of victims feel that the guilty were not punished.
- Several thousands of Hindu Kashmiri Pandits have been forced to leave their homes in Kashmir valley who have not been able to return their homes for more than two decades.
- Nearly more than 50 Swayam Sevaks of particular religion were put on fire in train compartment most probably by another religious group and as a reaction to that even nearly two thousand of Muslims were massacred in Gujarat in 2002 and the number of these families cannot go back to the villages in which they lived.
Critically examine the Indian secularism?
Indian secularism can be criticized on the following grounds:
- Secularism promotes religions freedom and equality. But sometimes argued to be anti¬religions, i.e. to undermine some forms of religions identity to be dogmatic, violent, exclusivity and those to faster hatred of other religions.
- Secularism is sometimes linked to Christianity, unsuited to Indian conditions. India evolved a variant of secularism not just an implant from the west on Indian soil. Hence, secularism has booth western and non-western origins and idea of peaceful coexistence of different religions communities has been important.
- Secularism is charged of minoritism but it is to treat them with some respect and dignity with which all others are being treated.
- Secularism is criticized to be coercive and to interfere excessively with religions freedom. Though secularism permits state supported religions reform but it should not be equated false but the mere fact that secular parties utilize vote banks is not troublesome. All parties do so in relation to some social group.
- Secularism is criticized to be impossible is criticized to be impossible project to be far from pursuing an impossible objective India secularism mirrors the future of the world.
Read the passage (NCERT Textbook, page 116) given below carefully and answer the questions that follow:
Let us look at a very different kind of secularism practised in Turkey in the first half of the twentieth century. This secularism was not about principled distance from organised religion, instead it involved, active intervention in and suppression of, religion. This version of secularism was propounded and practised by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
He came to power after the First World War. He was determined to put an end to the institution of Khalifa in the public life of Turkey. Ataturk was convinced that only a clear break with traditional thinking and expressions could elevate Turkey from the sorry state it was in. He set out in an aggressive manner to modernise and secularise Turkey. Ataturk changed his own name from Mustafa Kemal Pasha to Kemal Ataturk (Ataturk translates as Father of the Turks). The Fez, a traditional cap worn by Muslims, was banned by the Hat Law. Western clothing was encouraged for men and women. The Western (Gregorian) calendar replaced the traditional Turkish calendar. In 1928, the new Turkish alphabet (in a modified Latin form) was adopted.
Can you imagine a secularism that does not give you the freedom to keep the name you are identified with, wear the dress you are used to, change the language you communicate in? In what ways do you think Ataturk’s secularism is different from Indian secularism?
1. Who was Kemal Ataturk ?
2. What were the main ideas of Ataturk seculrism?
3. How did Ataturk try to promote secularism in Turkey?
1. Ataturk came to power after the defeat of Turkey in the First World War and he was determined to put an end to the institution of Khalifa in the public life of Turkey.
2. It involved active intervention in and suppression of religion.
Ataturk was determined to put an end to the institution of Khalifa in the public life of Turkey.
He set out in an aggressive manner to modernise and secularise Turkey.
3. Turkey was declared a secular state.
Put an end to institutions of Khalifa.
The Fez, a traditional cap of Muslims was banned by hat law.
The western (Gregorian) calendar replaced the traditional Turkish calendar.
Read the passage (NCERT Textbook, page 117) given below carefully and answer the questions that follow:
‘Equal protection by the State to all religions’. This is how Nehru responded when a student asked him to spell out what secularism meant in independent India. He wanted a secular state to be one that “protects all religions, but does not favour one at the expense of others and does not itself adopt any religion as the state religion”. Nehru was the philosopher of Indian secularism. Nehru did not practise any religion, nor did he believe in God. But for him secularism did not mean hostility to religion. In that sense Nehru was very different from Ataturk in Turkey. At the same time Nehru was not in favour of a complete separation between religion and state. A secular state can interfere in matters of religion to bring about social reform. Nehru himself played a key role in enacting laws abolishing caste discrimination, dowry and sati, and extending legal rights and social freedom to Indian women. While Nehru was prepared to be flexible on many counts, there was one thing on which he was always firm and uncompromising. Secularism for him meant a complete opposition to communalism of all kinds. Nehru was particularly severe in his criticism of the communalism of the majority community, which posed a threat to national unity. Secularism for him was not only a matter of principles, it was also the only guarantee of the unity and integrity of India.
1. What was secular state as per Pt. J.L. Nehru?
2. Mention the position of Nehru as a religious man?
3. Mention the compromising and opposing traits of Nehru in secularism?
1. A state to protect all religions but not to favour one at the expense of others and does not adopt any religion of state itself.
2. A philosopher of Indian secularism did not mean hostility to religion.
He was not in favour of complete separation between religion and state.
A secular state can intervene in matters of religion to bring about social reform.
3. Secularism for Nehru meant a complete opposition to communalism of all kinds which posed a threat to national unity. And secularism for him was not only a matter of principles but it was also a guarantee of unity and integrity of India.
Long Answer Type Questions
What are the elements to make India a secular state and suggestions to strengthen secularism in India?
A secular state:
- Consider religion and belief as a personal matter of individual.
- Civil administration is free from domination of religious parties and organisations.
- Laws made by elected representatives are enforced only.
- Political system should not be theocratic.
- No discrimination should be made in job opportunity and recognition of status.
- Fraternity should be recognised.
Elements to make India a secular state:
- State has no religion at its own.
- State is neutral and impartial in matters of religion.
- Every citizen has a right to adopt or profess any religion and to practicise in one’s own way.
- No one can be discriminated on the ground of religion.
- Minorities have been guaranteed the right to establish and run their educational institutions for protection of their language, script and culture.
- state cannot compel an individual to embrace or renounce any religion.
Suggestions to strengthen secularism:
- Religion should be kept separate from state politics.
- The political parties based upon religion or encourage communalism should be banned.
- If any candidate or political party campaigns on the ground of religions sentiments, should be punished or banned forever.
- Education should be imparted to students from the very first stage to embrace the principles of secularism along with scientific and national thinking.
Mention the constitutional provisions in India to promote secularism.
- The preamble to the constitution speaks of the liberty in important matters like faith, worship and belief.
- Article 14 states not to deny equality before law within the territory of India.
- Article 15 states not to discrimination any citizen on the grounds of caste, colour, race, religion, etc. and not to deny access to public places also.
- Article 16 states not to discriminate among individuals on any ground in matters of public employment or to deny admission in educational institutions.
- Article 17 declares untouchability a punishable offence under law.
- Article 25 provides right to adopt, practices, profess and propogate any religion of one’s choice.
- Article 26 provides to have rights to establish and maintain institutions for religions and charitable purposes, to mange its own affairs of religion, to own and acquire movable and immovable property and to administer it as well.
- Article 27 states that no person shall be compelled to pay taxes to proceed the payment of expenses for promotion and maintenance of particular religions denomination.
- Article 28 states that no religions instructions shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained by the state.
- Article 29 provides that the state shall not impose upon it any culture other than community’s own culture.