OPINION: Don't be scared to be secular, It's a Constitutional mandate

The less they bring up the matter of Hindu majoritarianism, the more power they hand to the ruling establishment.

OPINION: Dont be scared to be secular, Its a Constitutional mandate

There's one word which terrifies Indian political society today.

And because we get traumatized by its connotations, it used to terrorize us and keep us in our place.

No politician wants to use the word because it will be used against them. Unless you are a politician who has turned the term into one of abuse.

And how clever is that.

This term was not used in our Constitution when it was written. But it pervades every essence of its being. It lies in every freedom we gave ourselves. To speak, to get justice, to be free to practice our faiths and beliefs. All this term does is to suggest that the State is not a religious body and that the State does not represent any one religion. In essence that the State is without religious belief but exists to be fair to all religions.

I grant you that the term has many interpretations, connotations and methods of practice. In some places, the State gives no religion any truck at all. In some places, the State's agencies mention one or the other religion but all are treated fairly. In some, the State insists that all people bow to it first and then to its various religions. But in all these variations, religious persecution by the State, the State's representatives and the people of the State is not acceptable.

Is any of these a perfect system? Of course not. The search for perfection, much as it sounds like an ideal, is only fraught with obstacles. It is a system which we have to make work for us. Because without it, what are we?

An ancient civilization on an endless circular path repeating the same patterns for eternity? A strong growing inclusive democracy, throwing off the shackles of the past but celebrating the best of our customs and rejecting those that are intrinsically unfair or do not fit any more? Neither? Both?

Because, and here I'll say it, the collapse of the word "secular" had led to a denial of discussion and argument of what we are going through. The spread of Hindu majoritarian by the current government and by the political party it belongs to and the cultural organization swears allegiance to had not just been effective, it has been brutal.

And from the first lynching of a Muslim and the first attack on Dalits and the first vandalism of churches in 2014, the tone has been set. And because the word secular has become an abuse, political parties are unable to counter the majoriotarian narrative. I saw unable, what I mean is that they are either scared or cowardly or their strategies are wrong. The less they bring up the matter of Hindu majoritarianism, the more power they hand to the ruling establishment.

What they either forget – or prefer to forget – is that the BJP-RSS have the upper hand anyway. By following their lead and attacking minorities, they only bolster the RSS position and add followers to the BJP votebank. Little benefit will accrue to them in the long run and in both the short and the long term, Indian democracy will suffer.

Other political parties which continue with a sort of silent secular agenda also give power to the RSS-BJP. By not taking them on with their own ground experience, they give power to the hatred and lies spread by the BJP. This strategy of silence is counterproductive in the extreme, because except for small constituencies, the public at large is unaware of the party's stand on a free and democratic India.

Make no mistake. No democracy can survive without being secular. You may not like the word but that is because you have not thought it through. You may – and probably are – brainwashed by the prime manipulators on how secular governments have somehow hurt you. But you have not managed to either investigate those lies or think them through.

We need to bring the word back into circulation. We need to move beyond some pointless discussion on how India suffered because Indira Gandhi amended the Preamble to the Constitution to include the word "secular". The Indian Constitution was always secular in meaning. We can no longer allow the persecution of religious minorities, of lower castes, of women, of activists, of civil liberties, of political opponents, of academics, of students, of journalists, just because the political establishment is too scared to take on Hindu majoritarianism.


Next Story

Similar Posts