Indian Secularism: Myth or Reality

By: Asghar Ali Shad

Translated by Saira Rehman

Date: August 25th, 2014

The Indian Constitution is federal in nature. It is the lengthiest written constitution of the world. It has 25 parts and 448 articles. It has 12 schedules, 5 appendices and 120 constitutional amendments. The author of the Indian Constitution was a shudar Hindu, Dr. Bheem Rao Ambedkar who later on converted to Buddhism.

In 1976, during the emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi, the term secularism was introduced through 42nd constitutional amendment in the Indian Constitution in its preamble.

BJP — an extremist Hindu party has come into power in India through the recent elections held in April 2014 which shows the real face of secularism in India. Another prominent point to note is that, among the 282 BJP’s elected members of Parliament, not a single member is Muslim.

The coalition partner of BJP, Ashok Singhal, has said that if Muslims want to live in India, they must immediately withdraw their claim for Babri Mosque, Mathra Eidgah Mosque and Alamgiri Mosque of Banaras so that Ram Janam Bhumi Mandir, Krishan Janam Bhumi and Shiv Mandir could be constructed there respectively. Muslims’ existence would be annihilated from India if they did not accept his demand.

Najma Heptullah, the only Muslim Minister in Modi’s Cabinet said that she didn’t consider Muslims a minority because they were so large in number. Parsis were a religious minority, according to her.

Analysts think that the victory of an extremist political party like BJP should be taken seriously by the international community in the context of global and regional security. In this realm, according to Wikileaks, in December 2009, Rahul Gandhi told the then US Ambassador Timothy Roemer that in the days to come Safron Hindu extremists would become a greater threat to global peace than al Qaeda.

Former Premier Mr. Vajpayee’s statement in 2000 clarified the reality of secularism in India when he said that instead of demanding revival of Babri Mosque, Muslims should claim for equal rights.

According to the Sachhar Report prepared under the supervision of Justice Rajendar Sachhar, in rural India 94.9 per cent and in urban areas 61.1 per cent Muslims were living below the line of poverty. Likewise, 54.6 per cent Muslim rural population and 60 per cent urban Muslim population was deprived of education.

India’s Federal Secretary for Tourism, Parvez Dewan, authored a book titled “Hindus’ are Heroes, All others are Villains”. He researched 786 Hindi feature films and 300 advertisements to write this book. He depicted Muslims and all other minorities as “criminals, fools and lacking in moral values”.

The head of the “Aam Admi Party” and former Chief Minister of Delhi declared in December 2013 that in India 23,500 anti-Muslim riots had taken place since partition. According to analysts, nearly 35,000 anti-minorities riots including all minorities of India had occurred in India. Facts and incidents show that secularism exists in India in theory but not in practice.

 Question and Answer Session:

Following points were made during the discussion:

  • There is no definition of secularism in Indian Constitution. In fact, Indian Constitution is a borrowed document in which communalism and secularism have been mixed. To beef up votes, communalism has been used by Indian politicians.
  • Except three presidents and few film stars, one cannot find anything good for the Indian Muslims.
  • If personalities like Modi remain in power, India will lose its image of a secular nation.
  • Muslim population in India is not concentrated but scattered which is a factor for their weak political position in India.
  • In India, all minorities are mistreated.
  • For political expediency and also for maintaining law and order in the country, the concept of secularism has been used. However, religion has always come in the way.

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