Indian secularism can be understood in light of the Western secularism. In West during the Dark Age it was complete hold of religion upon governance i.e. day to day life. It was basically an issue of reducing in once day to day life the excessive control of the religion and once that was ensured by separating religion from the state and declaring state neutrality in matter of religion, there was no need for any further action by the state. Broadly in the West was Uni-religious society and therefore there was no question of creating the religious tolerance and respect.
However in India separating religion of reducing excessive control and religion was never an issue as phenomenon like Dark Age never existed in India. In India therefore separating of religion from governance could never have been a goal of secularism. In India there was as such no need to separate religion from state except we need neutrality of the state in matter of religion. As we are constitutionally accepted multi- religion society and in such of society a constitutional guarantee of state neutrality is must as it contain both minority and majority community. This neutrality of state was guaranteed by:
1) The Constitution not declaring any particular religion to be the religion of the state.
2) The Constitution expressively declaring that the states shall not discriminate between individual and the group on the ground of religion under article 15 (1),16(2) and 29(2). The above two are the negative or restrictive dimension to the secularism.
The third dimension of the secularism is the equal freedom of religion in all individual and in this aspect article 25 which guarantee the freedom of religion uses the word “equally” (also the restrictive aspect of the state).
The above however would not have been sufficient for Indian society. The Indian society being a multi-religious society requires some positive step to ensure the harmonious co-existence of various communities. The state was required to play the role of facilitator of religious tolerance and religious mutual respect. The Constitution does not explicitly provide the means by which such religious fraternity could be promoted rather it is discretion of the state to device mechanism by which religious fraternity can be promoted. It is implicit in the Constitution that the state shell Play Pro-active role for the promotion of mutual fraternity i.e. mutual respect within the people of different religion. It is a matter of policy for the state to decide for itself what measure it will adopt for that purpose.
In S.R Bommai v/s Union of India 1994, Supreme Court:
In this case characteristics of secularism were defined under the following:
1 Religious tolerance with mutual aspect to all religion.
2 State taking pro-active test to ensure equal protection to all irrespective of their religion.
For the above stated purpose the state for playing Pro-active role and device mechanism to promote the others.
3 The state not interfering in purely religious matter but should control secular matters associate with the religious practice.
4 Secularism is not a religious or anti God rather it is a complete personal freedom to all individual.
Secularism is not about separating religion from society. It was and western concept. In Indian society religion is deeply rooted. It is a way of life even though the parameter of thoughts. It cannot be separate from society rather we can only conserved and protect religion but at the same time it not limiting the people only to God it is complete freedom to have faith even in atheistic practices. Indian secularism is mature enough to give assurance to each religious society about equal treatment, conservation and promotion.
The court drew a distribution between freedom of religion and secularism:
Religion is a matter of internal phase of an individual and it is manifest in practice or ritual etc. Secularism also is a matter of mine of individual but it is manifested in the conduct of individual towards the others. Religion may or may not affect the other but secularism being a behaviour of an individual will definitely either positively or negatively affect the other and hence the role of the state is also the more important.
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