India- a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic, at least on paper. In reality, there is another story. Given the volatile political scenario of our country, we hear the word ‘secular’ so often, that we assume it is the right word to describe our country. The truth, however, is something else. Let us understand what does secularism mean, and how it relates to our society today.
The definition of the word ‘Secular’
In the absolute sense, the word secular means to reject all forms of religious beliefs. In a more practical terminology, however, this word means that the functioning of the state will not be influenced by any religion or religious beliefs. What do we understand from this definition?
Firstly, we can say that the government will not base its policies or decisions on any religion. This means that the actions taken by state and central governments will have the same implications for people of all religions. Secondly, we might also interpret that no religious beliefs will come in the way of the government’s decisions. How far are these true?
Are the politicians secular?
Current politics is rampant with issues like allowing entry of women inside temples, ban on eating beef, constructing a place of worship on disputed land, and people of a particular religion feeling unsafe in the country.
Look at the electoral manifestos of some political parties. You would see many religious issues right there, glaring. Similarly, some politicians make use of their religious vote banks to ensure that they are elected. How do they do it? By bringing religion right where it shouldn’t belong.
Certain political parties play a religion-card to showcase the sentiments of the majority, while others promise upliftment of minorities in the hopes of votes. In short, we are using the right to express our opinion for bringing religion into politics. This is exactly the opposite of secularism!
Selective reports by media
When politicians are playing with secularism, how can the media stay behind? An unnecessary religious context is used to describe many crimes and incidents. Victims of a particular religion make it to the first page of the newspaper while perpetrators of the same religion are simply marked as ‘accused’.
Carefully drafted news headlines poke an otherwise harmonious and cordial society between Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and people of other religions. Such media reports bring one religion to the forefront, while completely sidelining the main issue. Sometimes, even the most genuine and harmless statements by celebrities and politicians are made to look communal.
Then, there are intellectuals who glorify their religion and spread their ideas on social media. Such posts go viral within minutes, because of the speed with which online material can be shared.
Impact of pseudo-secularism
Religion is perhaps the strongest addiction in the world. People are ready to do anything in the name of their religion and religious beliefs. What do you think will be the impact of pseudo-secular and selective news reports and political agendas?
Needless to say, such activities only instigate people against one another, thereby shattering the whole purpose of the constitution. Add to it selective and skewed media reports and headlines flashing in the news. What good is a secular constitution when its citizens are fighting in the name of religion?
We often read about reports that certain institutions allow the celebration of some festivals, and not of others. Who decides which festivals are to be celebrated and which ones not?
Honestly speaking, news channels only care about their ratings- TRPs. Politicians only care about votes. Nobody cares about people. The sooner we understand this, the better it will be for us. The bitter fact is that the policy of ‘divide and rule’ is still present in India. Indians are becoming pawns of immoral and scheming people who want to shatter the true spirit of secularism in the country.
Coming back to sensesAmong all the communal hatred that is not actually there, but being glorified, we should start thinking as Indians first. The core essence of ALL religions is peace, yet religious heads are fighting! Why do we need to prove our religion to be better than others? How about getting rid of all this communal baggage and beginning to live a life that is above these petty differences?