Secularism In Politics

Vasu Reddy From Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

In political terms, Secularism is the separation of religion and government. The word was first used in the year 1851 by George Jacob Holyoake a British writer. It is very likely that his reference to Christianity and coexistence of other religions, and allowing practicing of every religion with equal rights, and outside of the government as secularism. Considering that politics have been around for as long as human life, the description of the word secularism and its active use in political language is quite new to the humanity.

India is a state that declares itself as a secular society, and in general terms the country by far may be the most secular country on earth. The difficulties of day to day religious strife has come in to force just before the 1947 independence and the division of the country. Even after the communal strife with the independence and separation of the country, Indians do have great camaraderie with each other irrespective of the religion they practice and they coexist without much communal strife.

Common man in India, although belonging to different religions do not find it difficult to live together with multiple religions in a single community. Indians identify the religious differences with dignity and clarity and most times have great respect for each other, and have no issues of living together and in peace. It is rather a great mix of people, religions and castes who all live in peace and harmony, until political elements are injected into the communities. The difficulties of religion comes into play when the political elements interject religion into their politics and force the issues of differences among people.

Prior to 1947 there was little religious strife in India. The nation was ruled by Hindus and Muslims and some parts by other religions, and people were subject to same rules of the country and not different set of rules for different community. They were identified as who they are and primarily the work they did and religion went hand in hand, rather than what they practiced as a religion. The respect for every religion was a part of the greater Indian fabric and people simply lived together and practiced whatever religion they chose to embrace.

The injection of race and religion into politics in India has become common since the independence, and as the time goes by the political parties are using the religion as a political tool and delivering speeches to the insecurities of the nations population. The infiltration of destabilizing elements into to India from the neighbors, couple with terrorist activities and continues rhetoric of politicians and international elements; all of them add to the insecurities of the general population.

The political parties both national and regional constantly remind people of their secular credentials while also injecting the fear of each other into the general population. India in principal is a secular nation and before and after 1947, has continued to be a secular nation. In fact the word secular came into English language long after the greater India rulers have practiced the secularism as long as the country existed.

The current politicians are anything but secular, and their constant claims to secularism is far from the truth. For a human being to practice secularism, there is no need to reinforce it daily, as if it is practiced it is a daily routine, rather than a politicians speech. The country has a lot of other economic and real issues to deal with rather than worry about secularism, which is a part and parcel of the Indian fabric. There is no need to remind the people of being secular as they already are. What is is required by the politicians is that they avoid fueling to the religious fears of the people and stay focused on what they need to deliver to the needs of the ever growing population.

Irrespective of what happens in the country and outside of it, India will remain a secular country and people will be living happily coexistence, unless politicians interject the fear of each other. The electorate need not be fearful of itself, rather of poor politics and poor resource management by the elected representatives. We no longer live in a kingdom but in a democracy and we already know how to be secular as Indians, without being told that there are problems with coexistence.

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