According to the definition of ‘secularism’ as mentioned in the 42nd amendment of constitution, it is nothing but fair and equal treatment to all religions in our country. The Preamble of our constitution has hereby declared our nation as a secular country on the grounds of equality to all religions.
Secularisation of Indian Society
In the Indian context, secularisation can be broadly understood as religion on one side and other aspects of society on the other. These other aspects include social, economic, political, cultural, legal factors etc. Secular beliefs have actually risen above one’s personal beliefs and have gone on to be a pawn for one’s utility.
Our reservation system gives special provisions to minorities and backward castes, so religion is used for more than one’s personal cause. In India religious practices and values are also of utmost importance. India is a land of many religions. Sometimes the sentiments of one religion gets hurt by a group that speaks against that religion leading to communal tension and violence. Every person is granted freedom by the constitution to practice the religion of his choice.
The constitution as such does not consider any religion to be more superior than the others. All religions are equal in front of law. Religious rites and rituals are carried out according to the norms of respective religion. Non interference to the norms of respective religion. Non interference in religion is a must.
Secularisation of groups & communities
We proudly call our nation a progressive country because we are tolerant towards different religious practices and respect individual beliefs. From prominence to religion, we are now progressing towards a more secular approach. People from different groups and communities are now more educated in our country and there is increased awareness with modernisation.
But modern beliefs amongst groups and various communities have no specific link with religious beliefs and secularism. For example, we can see that many Hindu temples have become broad minded in their approach and open their gates for all groups of people. But when it comes to people from a different religion all together, laws are enforced. Restrictions are imposed. Thus, modernism has nothing to do with secularism.
This also implies that a secular feeling may exist among different groups and communities of one religion but not necessarily a co-existing value with different religions. So, the idea of secularism is a debatable question at the national level. The pride of nationalism for a citizen should be certainly above his personal religious beliefs and values.
Only then our country can become a completely secular nation. Political interference to split a religion based on ideologies of different groups should be first curbed to achieve higher level of liberty among different religions and religious beliefs.
Religion and politics in India
Religion has become an integral part of Indian life. For a common man, the way he lives, the lifestyle he chooses for himself, the clothes he wears, the foods he prefers to eat, the places he chooses to visit or stay, etc. everything has a religious affiliation at least to some extent. This exactly is encashed by politicians especially during elections.
If a particular region is dominated by a particular group of people belonging to a certain religion, then the election for that region will see a candidate right from that religion only. For example, if a Hindu Brahmin dominated region exists in a certain part of our country, it is very common to see a brahmin candidate contest election from that constituency.
Religion and politics are like needle and thread in our country. Political leaders encash the religious feeling of people for their selfish benefits.
Among older politicians of our country, Nehru and Gandhiji advocated for a secular establishment in our country. Political advantage based on religion, caste, creed and communal interests was prevalent from a long time in India. These leaders tried to bring in a sense of brotherhood among different religions, but were not quite successful at it.
We can see religious places of interest being exploited by big politicians to gain personal milenge and forcefully imbibe religious attitude and differentiation among people. Human faith is at a loss due to politicisation of our religious beliefs.
It is a practice in Islamic religion where a husband can get divorce from his wife just by calling out ‘Talaq’ three times. The Muslim communities follow this type of divorce system. Under the Modi Government, a bill has been passed to amend laws regarding the same and abolishment of Triple Talaq has received both positive and negative feedback’s from the community.
A ban on Triple Talaq is on the grounds and is to be waited and watched when it will become a reality. Under Triple Talaq, it is only the men who can make use of the system to get a divorce from his wife by pronouncing ‘Talaq’ three times. Whereas for a women to get divorce from her husband, she needs to fight a legal battle in court to get separated.
This system followed in the Muslim religion as per Islamic beliefs and laws questions the very basic rights and dignity of Muslim women Muslim women always lead their lives in fear of being divorced by their husbands for no legitimate or valid reason. In other countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, this system has been totally banned.
This creates gross injustice and discrimination against women, which is unlawful in the Indian Constitution. Interests of women need to be legally protected and religion should not become a deterrent to enforce equality and justice to women. Thus on many grounds, secularism is evaded in our country due to intolerance and misguided faiths within a particular religion.
Universal Civil Code
The question of a uniform civil code has come more into the picture recently because many women belonging to the muslim community are supporting a ban on Triple Talaq. They are knocking on the doors of justice seeking their empowerment and liberation in society.
This scenario has indirectly propelled a transformation, calling for creation of a uniform civil code in the country. Uniform civil code creates uniform laws for all citizens of this country and removes and bans personal laws created by different religions for their own individual practice.
A common set of rules for every citizen, irrespective of his religion/caste/creed/community is the basic ground line of uniform civil code.
A universal civil code approach has also been mentioned under the directive principles of state policy under our constitution but its enforcement is yet to be legally finalised and approved. India is the largest democracy in the world. A secular country with common civil laws above individual religious personal laws should be the first and foremost goal of any progressive and developing republic.
This in turn provides equality among all citizens and upholds the national integrity of our nation. It brings in a higher sense of secularism, tolerance towards all religions and above all, a dignified feeling of nationalism amongst its citizens. It helps to establish gender equality, bans the system of discrimination based on reservation, upholds the dignity of women. Due to diversity and interference in political views at the national level, it is a difficult task to practically implement it in our country.
Personal Laws of Indian Religions
In India, different religions like Hindu, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists etc have their own set of personal laws that conform to the values laid down in their respective religion. When it comes to marriage/divorce, succession, adoption, disputes etc, these laws are referred to in order to resolve the matter. Hindu laws have their own way of declaring a marriage with legal status, much different from the Muslim way of doing it. This is good for the other religions also.
Personal laws of different religions bring down the feeling of secularism and promote discrimination. The so-called secular country is actually very adamant in its approach to revive and reform age-gold personal laws of religion. Most of these laws have become outdated and do not stand the test of time.
A progressive country like India which boasts of secular powers at the forefront should ban different personal laws of various religions and implement a uniform civil code. Civil laws that are common set of rules should be enacted and implemented so that every citizen thinks of his nation above his religion. A rational approach in this regard will help women attain greater prominence in society. Personal laws hinder justice to women, they create and empower a male-chauvinistic society which isn’t good.
Spirituality and Scientific temper
The relationship between spirituality and religious ideologies is totally different. In fact spirituality has nothing to do with any religion. Spirituality heals the mind, body and soul irrespective of their personal religious beliefs and values. In India, we have a progressive sect of younger generation that is rising today against the odds and evens of religious restriction, in search of true meaning of life.
Religion, across different pathways holds its own set of orthodox practices and blind beliefs. What one religion practices can be found in other different ways in another religion. Accepting the differences and living in a society by gathering those collective differences can lead to a secular society.
There are many blind beliefs carried out even today in the name of religion and tradition. Some have a scientific explanation to them, some do not have. For example, piercing a baby’s ear is considered sacred in Hindu traditions. If we attach scientific explanation to them, we can understand that it helps in bringing about motor balance to babies.
But this belief may occur as a disbelief among other religions. If other religions were to not interfere in such matters and left it as is, then the society would become a habitat for better harmony and coexistence. Our national leaders always call for a modernised, secular, welfare state. This dream would be possible only when we follow our religions traditions, yet progress ahead by inducing scientific temper in our minds.
Science and Mysticism
The whole definition of science is based on reasoning. Everything in and around us happens for a reason. Religion places due importance on an unseen, inexperienced force called ‘God’. Science explains this ‘mystic’ force not in the form of ‘God’, but as a fall of events occurring in nature.
Nature unfolds many secrets, nature is a bounty where creation and destruction happens alongside. Science has no place in religion. Religion relies on the worship of God. Science believes in natural forces.
We must understand that there is only one creator who creates and destroys in the universe, it’s only that we know him and worship him in different ways and different names. Thus we have so many religions and beliefs but the ultimate goal of all religions is the same.
Religions should bring a sense of unity amongst different groups of people. We have different religions in the world, because different groups of people cater to different values, beliefs and ideologies.
They were intended to be secular and tolerant with other religions. The ideals of brotherhood, peace and harmony are the ultimate goals of every religion. If we understand this basic foundation of secularism, we can truly become a developed country in the times to come.