The Myth of Indian Secularism

“The current Indian dispensation is taking the country away from its founding principle of secularism”- a friend cried.

I gave him a quizzical look and asserted that Bharat (India) is not and never has been a secular country. My entire group of friends looked utterly confused and were dumbfounded. It was like, as if a God has descended from the sky. They were bewildered and accused me of preposterous and outlandish claims and told me how the preamble of the Indian constitution has the word “secular” stitched to it.

They showed me numerous articles talking about the Secularism of our beautiful country. Articles talking about how bills like the Triple Talaq bill” were destroying the foundation of “secularism”. And then, that is the time it struck me – that the left intelligentsia has been quite successful in purporting the myth of Indian secularism.

So, let me get this straight “India is not and never has been a secular country”.

But you will ask how & why? When something to the contrary is etched in our constitution?

To understand this, first, we’ll need to understand what is the idea of “Secularism”?

Secularism is the concept of separation of the church (religious institutions) and the state (the government). This idea arose in Europe a few centuries back after people grew tired of the Church’s constant interference & domination in politics & all spheres of life. In simpler words, religious institutions should have no direct influence on the functioning of the government and its laws and vice versa.

Secularism has namely 3 pillars or tenets:

  • Freedom of religion.
  • Equal citizenship to each citizen regardless of religion.
  • Separation of religious institutions and state.

Secularism can also be understood as meaning everyone is under the same law, subject to and governed by the same laws irrespective of his/her religion.

If we look carefully at the above definition, the lie spread by the left intelligentsia is quite clear. Everybody, by definition, should be under the same law. Nobody should be given a different treatment because of his/her religion. In the Indian context, the very existence of personal laws on matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, alimony – varies with an individual’s religion. The continuation of pandering to Islamic fundamentalists and the existence of sectarian laws which allow State to control only Hindu institutions like schools, temples etc. and sectarian schemes in education which differentiates an innocent child based on his/her religion are the reasons why Bharat is not a secular nation.

Not only are the laws differential but the existing framework based on the interpretation of religious text, has forced the Indian state to legalise controversial subjects like child marriage, polygamy, Female Genital Mutilation(FGM), Nikah Halala and even something as disgusting as child rape (until the 2017s) and have unequal inheritance rights of women and men, and discriminatory divorce practices like the Triple Talaq (only one form of triple talaq has been banned, others still exist), which are based on Islamic jurisprudence.

This feigned sense of secularism has also been pointed out by likes of Sadanand Dhume in the Wall Street Journal, who also points out the flawed understanding of secularism among Bharat’s leftwing intelligentsia.

The important thing to note here is that a nation doesn’t become secular by merely adding the word ‘secular’ in its constitution, but by following its standards, the philosophy on which the idea is based.

Don’t let anybody tell you that the implementation of Uniform civil code(UCC) will take Bharat away from the principle of ‘secularism’ because it is the very implementation of UCC which will take Bharat closer to the idea of secularism. The irony of our times is that anybody who tries to maintain the status quo of Bharat’s lie of secularism is called a ‘secular’ and anybody who tries to change it, change Bharat into a ‘truly secular nation’ is labelled as a bigot, a Hindu-fundamentalist and what not. The irony of our times.


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About the Author

Varn Gupta
Varn Gupta is a freelance writer and an activist. He is an avid debater and has worked with many NGOs. He is an ardent reader and is politically incorrect. He is also a software developer and is currently pursuing Bachelors of Technology from Jaypee Institute of Information Technology(JIIT), Noida.