Secularism in India

By Sagnik Saha

Editor’s note:

Secularism is the separation of government organizations from religious organizations and religious dignitaries. This paper examines the main objectives of secularism, ranging from distinguishing the State from religion, constitutional provisions guaranteeing the same, the scope, and arguments against the same.


British writer George Jacob Holyoake used the term “secularism” for the first time. Secularism is the most crucial of separating of government organizations, and the individuals required to signify the Condition, from religious organizations and religious dignitaries. The idea of secularism furnished the sole reply as the coupling concrete of Indian social order. Thus, an unfaltering and judicious thinking was solicited to wean away open life from religion. Religion came to be recognized as a particular undertaking with no impact on country’s strategies and choices. This appeared to be the main viable response regarding multi- religious populace of India.

Objectives of secularism

(1) Significance of distinguishing Religion from the State:

It is paramount to divide religion from State, so a nation can function justly.

If the larger religious group has access to Governmental power, then it could effortlessly utilize this power & budgetary assets to oppress & aggrieve persons of smaller religions. This oppression of the larger part could bring about the separation, intimidation & on occasion, even the killings of religious minorities. The larger part could effectively stop minorities from rehearsing their religion. Any type of mastery dependent upon religion is in violation of the rights that an equitable social order assures to each and every national regardless of their religion.

An alternate importance of secularism is since we have to ensure the freedom of people to leave their religion, embrace another religion or have the option to decipher religious teachings distinctively.

(2) The Indian Constitution orders that the Indian state must be secular as just a secular state can understand its goals to guarantee-

  • that one religious group does not command another,
  • That a few members don’t command other members of the same religious group.
  • That the State does not implement any specific religion nor take away the religious flexibility of individuals.

Constitutional provisions

India being a conventional social order that holds, not one, however numerous conventions, owing their birthplace partially to the diverse religions that exist here, has so far devised a workable plan to hold the common character of its commonwealth.

The essential blueprints of the Secularism are worshiped in the accompanying Articles of the Constitution:

  1. Preamble: doubtlessly the saying “mainstream” did not first happen either in Article 25 or 26 or in any possible Article or Preamble of the Constitution. By the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976, the Preamble was changed and for the statements ‘Sovereign Democratic Republic’ the expressions ‘Sovereign, communist, common, Democratic Republic’ were substituted.

  2. No State Religion: There ought to be no ‘state religion’ in India. The states will not, one or the other build a religion of its own nor give any uncommon support upon any specific religion.

It accompanies from that:

  1. The state won’t force any national to pay any assessment for the advancement or support of any specific religion or religious organization (Article 27).

  2. No religious guideline should be given in any instructive organization wholly run by state reserves.

  3. While religious direction is completely banned in state-possessed instructive foundations, in other denominational organizations it is not completely denied yet it should not be encroached upon individuals of different religions without their assent (Article 28).

  4. Flexibility of Conscience: Avery individual is ensured the opportunity of inner voice and the option to purport, practise and proliferate his own particular religion.

  5. Flexibility to Manage Religious Affairs: individual to star fess, practise and engender his religion, they are additionally the right ensured to each religious bunches or sections:

  6. a) to secure and look after foundations for religious and beneficent purposes.
  7. b) to supervise its own particular issues in matters of religion;
  8. c) to possess and obtain mobile and unfaltering property; and
  9. d) to manage such property as per law.
  10. Social and Educational Rights: Under 30 certain social and instructive rights are ensured. Article 30 furnishes that all minorities, if dependent upon religion or dialect, should have the right to secure and regulate instructive foundations of their decision.


The scope of secularism in India is enormous. It is the only medicine which can bring this country out of the cancerous effects of religious politics and violence. It is what can soothe the minds and hearts of billions who would otherwise be baying for the blood of the ‘other’ man. Secularism is what binds a democratic nation. Before development takes place or we become economically strong as a nation, we must ensure internal peace in the country and draw up a resolution whereby we will do anything and everything to maintain this peace. This peace can only be obtained and preserved by the spreading and sharing of secular values and value systems. Today it is secularism which keeps religious forces at bay who at the first instance will try to stoke violence and hence communal problems. Secularism also has a large scope in the upliftment of the religious backward classes and the minority groups to make sure they do not feel alienated from mainstream Indian way of life. We need to ensure that a chunk of the overall national development must help in their development too, thus removing the sources of religious discord.

Arguments against

  • As a notion, secularism was the result of Renaissance in Europe however the saying secularism was not then utilized. Common demeanor rolled out as a response to the propensity showed throughout the medieval ages to disdain human issues and to ponder upon God. Provided that a starting is to be made towards comprehension the importance of this statement, one may turn to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED Vol.ix 1978), which states that secularism is the convention that ethics ought to be built exclusively in light of respect to the well-being of humankind in the present life to the avoidance of all contemplations attracted on conviction God or in a fate State.

  • To a degree constrained, standard verbalization of Indian secularism sets out for some something like this, the state must keep a principled separation from all open or private, individual-arranged or group turned religious establishments for the purpose of the similarly critical (and off and on again clashing) qualities of peace, this-common products, pride, emancipation, and fairness (in all its entangled individualistic or non-individualistic forms). Indian secularism then is a morally delicate, arranged settlement between various bunches and unique qualities.

  • The tests that secularism and pluralist tolerance are confronting in India now- We can, recognize between three however not offhand inclinations: (1) shared dictatorship, (2) patriotism and (3) activist obscurantism. There are as it may be, particular political attributes that are for the most part connected with rightist developments, and these components are positively introduce around some of the aforementioned related to radical legislative issues in India today: the utilization of brutality and danger to partisan goals, the misleading of parts of a specific neighborhood, mass activation dependent upon furious and profoundly divisive claims, and the utilization of unconstitutional and solid arm strategies against specific gatherings. These are the challenges to secularism


From one viewpoint, it is ordinarily felt that secularism is the answer for religious brutality in India, particularly concerning clashes between Hindus and Muslims. Then again, secularism is fiercely challenged by a variety of groups. Also, generally, thoughts of secularism and tolerance began as answers for issues identified with the religious strife in the West. Consequently, it is imperative for religious studies to advance a comprehension of the aforementioned issues that secularism and tolerance can illuminate, and whether these are additionally the issues Indian social order faces with respect to religious pluralism.


The one statement which concludes my research and what I have understood through my research is that – India is a secular nation.. Though as stated above in the research questions, there are challenges to our secular nature, but in no way does it show that our country has not been able to overcome these challenges and maintain its secular nature. Development of the nation not only depends on economic development but also in preserving the secular nature of this nation. Democracy is a continuous process with no final objective but the very process of maintaining a democratic nature is the objective itself. Hence maintenance of secular nature is the objective and not the distant goal of a secular nation without any sectarian violence.

Edited by Neerja Gurnani

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