India has many religions and to give freedom of religion to everyone and for equality of religion, India was declared a secular country. The word secular was added into the preamble by the 42th Amendment (1976). As per this there would be equality of all religions in India, along with religious tolerance and respect. As per the written Constitution of India, India is a secular country and we as citizens of India must abide by it. Even the old age philosophy of oneness of religion has been mentioned in Hindu scriptures known as the Upanishads. The Upanishads preach ‘Sarva Dharma Samabhava’ which means respect for all belief systems.
Everything in India revolves around religion and with time religion has flourished with Indian civilization. In Feudal India, where authority lay in the sword, there was almost complete religious tolerance. People from different religions used to live in peace and harmony and there was complete respect for each other’s religion. Few clashes and controversies occured during that time, though later with the coming of the Mughals, people were forced to adopt Islam by autocratic ruler like Aurangzeb.
Secularism became more prominent under the British rule in India. Religion then became an inseparable part of politics and social life. The British government imposed separate laws for Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and other religious communities. This was the basis of their divide and rule policy. With this a civil code came into existence that was not the same across all religions, but different for each religion.
At the time of Independence, secularism was the main objective of political leaders. All prominent leaders of the Indian National Congress were committed to secularism. But unfortunately, the exact opposite happened, communal violence led to the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 as separate nations. Pakistan was formed as a new homeland for Muslims who felt insure of living in India, with a Hindu majority. This communal violence also led to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, who preached secularism and religious tolerance.
After Independence, India became a secular country in which the Indian state did not have any one state religion, but her people were free to follow or adopt any religion.Though gradually, most political leaders started preaching communal ideology, which led to India becoming a combination of communalism and secularism During the early 80’s communalism became so strong that it began to overshadow the secularism in India. Hence the word “pseudo-secularism” began to be used by different political parties., The 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, The Babri Masjid\Ram janam bhoomi controversy in 1992, militancy in Kashmir and Punjab are few major examples which prove the superiority of communalism in India versus secularism. Communal forces oppress minorities in India and lead to the disintegration of secular policies. Communal and religious clashes are the biggest question on the definition of “secularism” in present day India.
The vested interest of people behind communalism must come to an end for a truly secular India. There should be liberal space and respect for each religion. Great and deep subdivision of religion needs to be addressed and everyone at a personal as well as social level must follow ‘Sarva Dharma Sambhav’ philosophy. Religion is personal and must not interference with politics. To strengthen secularism, whenever there is damage to religious sentiments the government must deal with the perpetrators strictly and the guilty must be punished.