Friday, December 19, 2008

India's Secular spirit.

On India’s Secularism:  

“Mazhab nahin sikhata aapas mein bair rakhna.”
  - (An excerpt from the national song, “Sare Jahaan se aacha” by Aalama Iqbal.)

We the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic.- ( opening lines of the Preamble to the Constitution of India.)

  Secularism, which is one of the aims and objectives of the Preamble to the Constitution of India is an idea which if traced as regards its roots of origin in India will come to the natural conclusion that it is not borrowed from the West (It is another case, if they credit themselves to be the pioneer of this concept.).Historically, it was Emperor Akbar who convincingly implemented this idea in the formation of a new faith known as “Deen-e-Ilahi”(an amalgamation of the virtuous principles of all Faiths.) such an order of governance could also be seen in the reign of Tipu Sultan of Mysore, whom his adversaries comprising of Lieutenants and Captains of the East India Company had deliberately branded a “bigot” and a “Fanatic” in historical accounts so as to distort the happenings of the period as well as spread their propaganda. This distortion was rectified by Mahatma Gandhi during his stint as the guest Editor of the daily “Young India”. He stated in its editorial that, “All allegations against the Sultan are baseless, instead he was at that time of turbulence,(18th century India) a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity as he listened with equal attention and respect the Aazan (Call for prayer) from the Masjid-e-Ala as well as the ringing of the bells from Sri-Ranganath Mutt in his capital, Srirangapatanam.”

  In Independent India after the dawn of Independence, our charismatic Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who was deeply wedded to the principle of Secularism drew strength from the Persian term, “Sulekhul” denoting the same.

  The unity and fraternity of the people of India, professing numerous faiths, has been sought to be achieved by enshrining the Ideal of a Secular State which means that the state protects all religions equally and does not itself uphold any religion as the state religion. The question of Secularism is not one of sentiments but one of Law. The Secular objective of the state has been specifically expressed by inserting the word, “Secular” in the Preamble to the Constitution of India (42nd amendment) Act of 1976. Secularism is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution. There is no provision in the constitution making any religion the “established Church” as some other constitutions do.

  On the other hand, The Liberty of “belief”, “faith”, and “worship” promised in the Preamble is implemented by incorporating the fundamental rights of all citizens relating to “Freedom of Religion” in Articles, 25-29, which guarantee to each individual freedom to profess, practice and propagate their own religion, assure strict impartiality on the part of the state and its institutions towards all religions.

  This Constitutional injunction itself is one of the glowing achievements of the Indian Democracy when her neighbors such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri-Lanka and Burma, uphold particular religions as state-religions.

  To put it this way, the reason as to why India is not a Theocratic nation is that it is a multilingual (including various dialects), multicultural, multi-racial as well as a society of pluralistic views (Paradoxes exist in almost every sphere).

  India’s Secularism can also be attributed to the very creation of Pakistan which was on theocratic lines. The veteran leaders of the I.N.C. saw the threat such a proposal faced to India’s social fabric. India’s secularism can be summed up in the prayer chant of Gandhiji which has a synthesis of terminology used to address the same Almighty God, the excerpt where such a blending takes place, runs as-
  “ Ishwar, Allah, tero naam sabko sanmati de Bhagwan. ”  

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