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Saurav Bhola

Designation – Pursuing bachelor’s


Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab

Contact details : +919466672993 , +919781279015


Secularism is deeply ingrained in Indian culture and it has become a classic example of beat to
other culture across the globe for its unique secular dimensions. In India with several religions
and religious element is deeply embedded in the human psyche, and with two centuries of
foreign rule, the secular idea has taken shape in ways which have no parallels elsewhere.
Secularism is hotly debated and controversial concept which is susceptible to varied meanings1.

Professor(Dr.)Paramjit S. Jaswal , Professor(Dr.) G.I.S Sandhu , Dr. Manoj Kumar Sharma (2015) . Minorities and
Law in India. Rajiv Gandhi National university of Law.
Secularism in Hindi, is referred to as ‘Dharam Nirpekshata’ which means religious neutrality.
The word ‘Secularism’ was coined by a British secularist , co operator and newspaper editor
named ‘George Jacob Holyoake’ in 1846. He explained the meaning of the word ‘secular’,
having no connection with religion , concerned only with the worldly things and no relation to
the Churches or religious rule. He coined the term ‘secularism’ to describe his view of
promoting a social order separate from religion, without actively dismissing or criticizing
religious belief. But before George Jacob Holyoake this concept of secularism was used by many
philosophers like,. Epicurus, Voltare, Aurelius, Thomas Jefferson and John Locke. This concept
of Secularism came into existence as a response to certain changes in social organization like
before Buddhism and Jainism there was Brahminical system which was very popular and
respected religion. All thing related to education, governance and also personal life are greatly
influenced by this religion. Similarly in West, Christianity was at very well dominance. In
middle age all activities were instructed by religion. And due to the increase of social institutions
it was difficult for religion to control them. Secondly when so many religious group came
together as a social institution, a feeling of granting equal right of dignity and respect starts
emerging. And by this, the concept of secularism came into existence.


Humanism is the philosophy which holds the human dignity , human trust and human welfare as
supreme. Humanism says, that the human must do something for human dignity and human
welfare. Secularism is considered as a part of Humanism because, it is inspired by sense of
justice which tries to prevent discrimination among the followers of different religious
communities living together that means the ultimate aim of secularism is to prevent
discrimination amongst various religious communities.


Lets now look at the kind of government or state we have as far as the religious attitude are
concerned. There are three Kind of States:

1. Atheistic State
2. Theocratic State
3. Secular State

Atheistic State : Atheistic state is anti-religion state. This state does not allow its citizen
to profess any religion and if somebody goes against it then he/she will be punished and
killed. For example : Mexican constitution of 1917 or some communist state like China ,
Soviet Union , Cuba.

Theocratic State: Theocratic state is a pro- religion state. This state is fully opposite of
secularism. In this state none of its citizens are allowed to have different religion. For
example in Pakistan , Nepal etc.. This state believe in both God-Man relation and Man-
Man relation.

Secular state: Secular state is neutral in all matter of religion. This state follows the
concepts of Secularism. Every citizen have right to profess their own choice of religion.
This state doesn’t believe in God-Man relation ,in fact, it says that God-Man relation is
citizens individual conscience and Government has nothing to do with it. So it believes in
Man to Man relation. Like India and USA both are secular state.

Secularism in India:

Secularism in India is not a recent task or any near independence task. The mentality of
secularism can be found around 4000 year ago at the time of Indus valley culture. As regard to
the Indus valley, it covers vast area and people of the region lived a high standard of living in
either sphere of life- material and spiritual. There was the population of cosmopolitan one. There
was a large population and different religions existed at that time. There was no common belief
or any one particular religion which dominated the other religion. The different religion present
during that period can give us the hint of their basic idea of equality of all religions, religious
harmony and unity in diversity etc., that speaks of their secular mind and philosophy leading to
the foundation of secularism in Indian soil. Thus Indus valley civilization is considered as the
cradle land of Indian Secularism as it provide us with the idea of secularism.
Prominent secular feature of Indian culture includes unity in diversity, universalism and mutual
respect for the religious practise of other religions . Secularism is no doubt , an ideal principle
but the vulnerable point in India is the deep religious sentiments prevailing among its different
religious communities. Present and future of secularism in historical perspective of India can be
seen by some lines of Tagore, ‘the muffled steps of the past are felt in blood’. India has from
time immemorial, been the home of several religions.

India is home to diverse traditions, religions and cultures as several cultures and religions have
co-existed in India for centuries. This mutual co-existence and mutual respect for the religious
practices of other religions is inherent in Indian society. India being a pluralistic society,
secularism is inherent in Indian culture. It has been preached and practised in India from Ancient
times. The constitution of India declares India as a Sovereign, Socialist, Democratic ,Republic.
Earlier there was no place for word ‘Secularism’ in our Indian constitution and then this word
‘secularism’ was added by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment enacted in 1976. The concept of
secularism is being inflicted in our Indian constitution. The term ‘secular’ denotes threefold
relationship between state , man and religion. The preamble to the Indian constitution signifies
that India is a secular state. This can be inferred from the lines of the preamble which are as

WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA , having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign
Socialist Secular Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens.

JUSTICE Social , economics and political:

LIBERTY of thought , expression , brief , faith and worship

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity: and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unit and integrity of the Nation;

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November ,1949, do

Preamble to the Constitution of India assures equality, belief and opportunity and guarantees
liberty of thought ,expression, belief and worship. Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to
all irrespective of religious beliefs. Therefore , all are entitled to right to equality, right to life ,
fundamental freedoms and right against exploitation. Constitution guarantees every person, the
freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion subject to limitations prescribed by the
Constitution. Article 25, Article 26, Article 27 and Article 28 , demonstrate that Indian
Constitution provides strong secular edifice. The implication of secularism can be inferred from
the various articles of Our Indian Constitution. Article 14 to 21 of the constitution guarantees
equal right for all citizens under the broad title ‘Equality before Law’.

 Article 14 stipulates that “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law
or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of
discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth”2
 Article 15 Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place
of birth
I. The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion,
race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them
II. No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or
any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with
regard to
a. access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and palaces of public
entertainment; or
b. the use of wells, tanks, bathing Ghats, roads and places of public
resort maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated
to the use of the general public

III. Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision
for women and children
IV. Nothing in this article or in clause ( 2 ) of Article 29 shall prevent the State
from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and

Article 14 of The Indian Constitution.
educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the
Scheduled Tribes3
 Article 16 says that “Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment”
I. There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to
employment or appointment to any office under the State
II. No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place
of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against
in respect or, any employment or office under the State
III. Nothing in this article shall prevent Parliament from making any law
prescribing, in regard to a class or classes of employment or appointment to
an office under the Government of, or any local or other authority within, a
State or Union territory, any requirement as to residence within that State or
Union territory prior to such employment or appointment
IV. Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision
for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class
of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented
in the services under the State
V. Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any law which provides
that the incumbent of an office in connection with the affairs of any
religious or denominational institution or any member of the governing
body thereof shall be a person professing a particular religion or belonging
to a particular denomination4

 Article 17 mentions “Abolition of Untouchability” .Untouchability is abolished and

its practice in any form is forbidden The enforcement of any disability arising out of
Untouchability shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law5
 Article 18 mentions “Abolition of titles” . No title, not being a military or academic
distinction, shall be conferred by the State No citizen of India shall accept any title

Article 15 of The Indian Constitution.
Article 16 of The Indian Constitution.
Article 17 of The Indian Constitution.
from any foreign State No person who is not a citizen of India shall, while he holds
any office of profit or trust under the State, accept without the consent of the
President any title from any foreign State No person holding any office of profit or
trust under the State shall, without the consent of the President, accept any present,
emolument, or office of any kind from or under any foreign State Right to Freedom6
 Article 19 mentions “Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc.”
I. All citizens shall have the right
i. to freedom of speech and expression;
ii. to assemble peaceably and without arms;
iii. to form associations or unions;
iv. to move freely throughout the territory of India;
v. to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
vi. to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation,
trade or business

II. Nothing in sub clause (a) of clause ( 1 ) shall affect the operation of any existing
law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes
reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub
clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of
the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or
morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an
III. Nothing in sub clause (b) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any
existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law
imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public
order, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said
sub clause
IV. Nothing in sub clause (c) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any
existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law
imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public

Article 18 of The Indian Constitution.
order or morality, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred
by the said sub clause
V. Nothing in sub clause (c) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any
existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law
imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public
order or morality, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred
by the said sub clause
VI. Nothing in sub clause (g) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any
existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law
imposing, in the interests of the general public, reasonable restrictions on the
exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause, and, in particular, nothing
in the said sub clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it
relates to, or prevent the State from making any law relating to,
i. the professional or technical qualifications necessary for practising any
profession or carrying on any occupation, trade or business, or
ii. the carrying on by the State, or by a corporation owned or controlled by
the State, of any trade, business, industry or service, whether to the
exclusion, complete or partial, of citizens or otherwise7

 Article 21 says “Protection of life and personal liberty” .No person shall be
deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established
by law8

Also, in the case of S.R. Bommai v. Union of India, Supreme courts says that , Secularism is the
part of ‘Basic Structure Doctrine’ of the constitution of India.

We should be proud of our Secular Nation.

Article 19 of The Indian Constitution.
Article 21 of The Indian Constitution.
Apart from that , a question arises in mind of every Indian citizen regarding Secularism and
about its existence. If we look according to Indian perspective then there are two major and most
controversial religions that are Hinduism and Islam.

Many questions may put some serious allegation on secularism in India. like, why India is also
known as ‘Hindustan’. If we look at this word ‘Hindustan’(Hindu + Stan) it means land of
Hindus. So what about the identity of Muslims. According to the most of the psychology of
Hindu , they often treated Muslims as a terrorists or criminals. This statement can be understood
by the very general example, It can be possible that one Muslim can easily live in a Hindu
society but a Hindu person cannot easily lives in a Muslim society. Because of the myth created
by the society that Muslims are brutal and merciless. Hinduism follows Bhagavat Gita and
Islamic people follows Quran. If all religion are equal then why are we having two different
philosophies of Hinduism and Islam. The Hindu men are restricted to have only one wife but in
Muslim community , Muslim men are allowed to have 4-4 wife’s. So where is the equality of
religion and secularism?.

Our Indian History plays a very impactful role in creating or developing the negative mentality
of peoples.


During the time of partition in India. One partitioned part declared her as an Islamic state. The
very same arena regarding the religion of state as well as minority protection was also being
discussed at this side of boundary. All the secular ideas which were imbibed by Nehru, Gandhi,
Besant, Raja Ram Mohan Roy and other leaders were washed away by the communal riots,
partition trauma and the exodus of refugees for religious reasons. In fact declaring India as an
secular state seemed to be a herculean task especially in view when the other part had already
declared her to be Islamic state. Only those people who actually did not experience the brunt of
suffering of the communal divide and partition could easily argue for the establishment of a
secular state of India.

This problem worsened with another incident which happened in Kashmir. When the corridors of
power were debating the future of India in Kashmir provinces Pakistani soldiers infiltrated and
occupied one third of the total area of the province. It was a blow to the soft corner talks which
were growing in the mind of Indians. Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru took the issue to
the United Nation organization. The actual line of control on ceasefire became the virtual
borderline between the two countries in time to come. It become one of the toughest tasks to
decided India’s religious orientation in that combative condition. Indian minds were still fresh of
memory of thousands of Hindus thrown out of Pakistan.

In the constituent assembly when our constitution was being debated a voice was raised by
Mahavir Tyagi that “we will give the same protection to our minorities what Pakistan will offers
to her ”. The voice was sharply criticized by Nehru who firmly said that “India will not do what
Pakistan thinks or enact. India is a sovereign nation which is free to think and act”. Here was
born the Indian version of secularism thought it was later only in 1976 it was formally added in
the preamble of constitution of India. This ‘Idea of Secularism’ as Professor Faizan Mustafa puts
was the most pioneered thinking by Nehru which saved India. If today India is an aspiring world
power and it is only because of this ‘Idea of Secularism'.9


In the end of the research I would like to put some suggestions which seems to be necessary for
strengthening Secular force in India.

Firstly, the mentality of Indian people should be positive. And such myths like Muslims are
merciless should not exist. Every religion is entitled to have equal respect and equal dignity same
as the other religion. So everyone should be proud of their own religion and they should give
equal respect and love to other religion also. Hence equal respect for all religion on the part of
people must be encouraged as a matter of policy.

Secondly, the ban on the formation of any political parties on the basis of caste and religion can
stop our politician to explore the caste or religious sentiments for political ends . There must be a
code of conduct for Indian Political parties. There should be no reservation on the basis of caste
or religion.

Thirdly, there must be adequate pressure on politician to give priority to people’s issue rather
than non-issues like Kashi, Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid and Mathura issue. Politician must

Nawdeep Singh Sen(2015) .(Thesis) Secularism : myth or reality. Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law,
came out with correct programmes to solve the people’s issues rather than appealing to then on
caste and religious basis. It is not very difficult to develop such pressures. It is the duty of the
secular intelligentsia to do this.

The most important suggestion is regarding the human observation. When a new baby is born,
instead of tell him/her that he/she is a Hindu or Muslim or any other religion, it would be better
to ensure him/her that he/she is a Indian and a human being. That would makes him/her a better
person who never believe in any kind of discrimination and also he/she will inspire others with
his/her thinking.


India is a secular state but non anti-religious state. Problem arises in every society and every
country of this world but those problem does not make them incapable of doing something.
Similarly, in India we have some amount of conflict between religions but those conflicts can’t
question our Indian Secularism. Our Indian government and our Indian constitution both are
providing o many rights regarding the interest of minorities. Both are providing us a free society
with full of rights to live in. Our Indian secularism may have been weakened to some extend but
it certainly not down and out. Secularism in India is not a myth and can prevail in reality by
strengthening secular fabric of the nation.