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Higgledy-piggledy: The plight of secularism in India

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By Yajush Gupta

“If I were a dictator, religion and state would be separate. I swear by my      religion. I will die for it. But it is my personal affair. The state has nothing to do  with it. The state would look after your secular welfare, health,  communications, foreign relations, currency and so on, but not your or my   religion. That is everybody’s personal concern!” -Mahatma Gandhi

6 months ago, When prime minister Narendra Modi ,visited Dublin to address the Indian diaspora, he was moved with the way the Irish kids recited Sanskrit shlokas in the event.

‘He mocked Indian secularist, by stating that it would have raised questions had this been done back in India’

‘Few months ago, home Minister Rajnath Singh at the parliament remarked that secularism is the “most misused” term in India

Certainly not the first time, secularist has been challenged. Indian secularism is comprehensively different from the idea of secularism in West. There are intrinsically two viewpoints of Secularism. One is the western viewpoint of Secularism, other is Indian viewpoint. Both these notions of Secularism emerged out of the respective historical disposition and necessities of the two societies.

Defining it

The western viewpoint of secularism refrains the state itself from getting involved in any sort of religious affairs. Typically it means that the legislation would not consider religion as a criteria for making laws. In a secular nation there is one is no division of religion. All religions are treated equally under the “uniform civil law.” . Precisely it means one uniform codified law for all people.This unified civil law prevails over all personal laws. Secularism is to follow one’s own religion within the boundaries of not disturbing other religions and respecting them. The western secularism involves state neutrality in religious matters as they have one religion followed by all citizens . So authorities being impartial is sufficient and no action is required on the part of the authorities to maintain religious harmony.

In Indian context the authorities as a neutral establishment in religious matters is practically pointless, because of our multi-religious society .Since independence these laws are well preserved . Well, mainly because things have marginally changed. We have adapted to our multi-religious society accepting all the terms and conditions . It’s a constitutional compulsion upon the state and fundamental duty of the citizens to bring amity between various religions. So, Indian secularism has to be perceived within its own limitations compared to the western secularism.

The Irony

Although,Indian secularism does treat all religions equally,It is remains to be bias towards other religion. Moreover, the government fails to enforce any uniform codified law common for all. These laws are distinguished from public law and cover marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption and alimony. Indian Secularism deals not only with religious freedom of individuals but also to safeguard the religious freedom of minority communities.That being said, the Indian constitution grants all religious minorities,the rights to establish,administer and maintain their own educational institutions, which may even receive financial aid from the state. The term pseudo-secular used derogatorily to manifest policies bias towards the minority community. It implies to those who claim to be secular but are actually not so.

‘Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1930, though he supported a uniform civil code’

‘In September 2003, in an interactive session in PGI Chandigarh, then President APJ Abdul Kalam supported the need of Uniform Civil Code, keeping in view the population of the country’

  • The term first recorded use of the term “pseudo-secularism” was in the book Philosophy and Action of the R.S.S. for the Hind Swaraj, by Anthony Elenjimittam.
  • The Government of India pays to go on the Hajj Pilgrimage for Muslims.The subsidy amount extended was Rs.836.56 crores in 2012 Rs. 680.03 crores in 2013. In 2014, it was Rs. 533 crores.
  • The infamous Shah Bano case,the controversial case of alimony and maintenance, where in which Shah Bano, a 62-year-old Muslim from madhya pradesh was divorced by her husband in 1978 but even after winning the case at the Supreme court of India was subsequently denied alimony because the Indian Parliament reversed the judgement under pressure of so called secularists, the Congress (then dominant political party).

The Seed

The very idea of equality for all and safeguarding the minority communities is itself contradicting.One of the main factors of stemming religious prejudice in our country. Religious prejudice means that one religion, is the “one, true religion”. Dirty and vote bank politics has made the matters worse.There is always a feeling of insecurity amongst all, the minority community doesn’t want the “special case” tag to be hampered, while the majority community wants to defend it’s status-quo at all costs. And the truth is that the minority has become so defensive, threatened and intolerant ,that they always have there guards up, which makes any amends to the current scenario more grinding.

Further the  educational system which has encouraged the people to think in terms of individual interest and not collective, has also failed to inculcate true secular notion in the young minds and promote feeling of oneness among them.

Secularism doesn’t mean offering inducement to minorities but unfortunately it is what has become as of today. It has come to intended suppression of the majority and bending over backwards to favor India’s largest and aggressive minority. Indian secularism has survived till today, because of the tolerance of the majority community and well, this is what we have been taught since ages.To tolerate. laws that govern the peoples of India, and also because Indian state is based on ‘fairness‘ or ‘equality‘ well,at least on papers.The laws that were made decades ago considering the India’s Cold-blooded partition history. But we have moved on big time since then.

The Verdict

A uniform civil code will help India develop into a truly modern state and create a favorable healthy environment where all citizens are treated equally.This will ensure social interaction, as well as eliminate some of the discriminatory practices against women.Post independence, it was hoped that this step would be taken. But unfortunately till now no progress has been made in the advancement of one uniform Civil Code.

Today its adoption appears to be even more back-breaking and worth considering than it was at the time when the Constitution was framed. Moreover, classification on the basis of economic status, rather than religious whereby underprivileged and more importantly poor sections of society can have access to special economic aid packages, will prove to be much more fruitful. People must realize that the reason of Indian secularism may just be a result of partition and we need to look ahead and prove that various religions can indeed co-exist, without the need of any assistance from the jurisdiction.

After all , we are one ‘Incredible Nation’ with birthplace of some of the world’s major religions namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

Report prepared by Yajush Gupta, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @yajush_gupta 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Secularism, does it really exist? Can very well be framed as an existential question. And that is why we have to keep in mind theory and reality are two contradictory forces.
    It is being said here that Western nations can manage being secularism easily. Well, it makes be laugh. Perhaps the alarming phenomenon of Islamophobia is being forgotten. Yes, more amendments is needed of the policies and rigorous reviews should be done.
    And please don’t quote ideologies of RSS.
    I thought we are debating Secularism here, right?

    • Let us assume, you are hosting guests at your place and one day, you suspect they might turn out to be a menace to your home and yourself. Will you not be ‘Phobic’ , keeping in mind the fact that, you live in a civilized and an instructed society. It’s human to protect yourself and be threatened if your instincts shrieks danger .
      More over,This article is more than a debate or some comparison with the western ideology. It’s about the messy and confused state of the word secularism, as part of the 42nd amendment of the Indian constitution.

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Hinduism is Not an Official or Preferred Religion in Any Country of The World, Says a New Report

Though Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world, it is not the official state religion of any country according to a Pew Research Center Report

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Hinduism
Hinduism is not an official religion of any country in the world. Instagram.
  • No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
  • Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
  • 53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
  • 80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”

Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.

It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.

Hinduism
Islam is the most practiced official religion of the world. Instagram.

Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:

In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.

Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.

As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.

While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.

-by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram.  She can be reached @tweet_bhavana

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Hinduism: The Nine Basic Beliefs that you need to know

Hinduism- the oldest religion in the world is based on certain established beliefs. Read more to find out what these beliefs are.

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justice and Injustice factor of Hinduism
Hinduism of Hindus when compared between justice and injustice

Hinduism being the world’s oldest religion does not have any proper beginning story like the other monotheistic religions like Christianity and Islam do. It has no human founder. Therefore it leads us to the question that if there was no human who started Hinduism then how did its teaching come to being. Well, there is no definitive way to answer this question. What we can answer though are the nine beliefs of Hinduism. Hinduism is a religion which believes that if a person realizes the Truth within himself then only he can reach a point where the consciousness of man and god are one.

Our beliefs determine our thought process and attitude toward life which lead us to our actions. It is said that we create our destiny from our actions. Beliefs regarding matters such as God, soul, and cosmos often shape our perceptions towards life. Hindus believe in a variety of concepts but there are few critical ones which shape the basic belief of Hinduism. The following are the nine beliefs which not exactly very comprehensive but they form the base of the spirituality of Hinduism.

Are you familiar with the various gods and goddesses of Hinduism? Pixabay

All Pervasive Divine Power

  • Hindus believe in a one, all-pervasive Supreme Being who is both immanent and transcendent, both Creator and Unmanifest Reality.

Rig Veda – Wikipedia Commons

Divinity of the Sacred Scriptures

  • Hindus believe in the divinity of the four Vedas, the world’s most ancient scripture, and venerate the Agamas as equally revealed. These primordial hymns are God’s word and the bedrock of Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion.

Hinduism – Pixabay

Creation Cycle

  • Hindus believe that the universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation, and dissolution.

Hindu Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi, Wikimedia

Belief in Karma

  • Hindus believe in karma, the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words, and deeds.

Reincarnation and Liberation

  • Hindus believe that the soul reincarnates, evolving through many births until all karmas have been resolved, and moksha, liberation from the cycle of rebirth, is attained. Not a single soul will be deprived of this destiny.

penance
Belur, Chennakeshava Temple, Gajasurasamhara, Shiva slaying the demon Gajasura. Wikimedia

Worship in Temples

  • Hindus believe that divine beings exist in unseen worlds and that temple worship, rituals, sacraments and personal devotionals create a communion with these devas and Gods.

Hindu dharma
Hindu Sadhguru –  Pixabay

Belief in a Enlightened Satguru

  • Hindus believe that an enlightened master, or satguru, is essential to know the Transcendent Absolute, as are personal discipline, good conduct, purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry, meditation, and surrender in God.

Hinduism, Hindu temple, Krishna idol
Krishna idol. Pixabay

Propagation of Non-Violence and Compassion towards living things

  • Hindus believe that all life is sacred, to be loved and revered and therefore practice ahimsa, non-injury, in thought, word and deed.

The symbol has been adopted by various religions and cultures across the world.
The swastika is a Hindu symbol of spiritual principles and values. Wikimedia Commons.

Respect and Tolerance for other faiths

  • Hindus believe that no religion teaches the only way to salvation above all others, but that all genuine paths are facets of God’s Light, deserving tolerance, and understanding.

Prepared by Saloni Hindocha (@siatipton)

One response to “Hinduism: The Nine Basic Beliefs that you need to know”

  1. Please use proper words for our culture. There are no ‘beliefs’ in Hinduism. There are only ‘hypotheses’ of Hinduism. Belief is something a person is required to adhere to, even in the face of disproving evidence. It demands a suspension of rational thought which goes against the basic nature of Hinduism. Please do not explain Hinduism using the same terminology used by Abrahamic religions. Or more appropriately, call Hinduism and other non-Abrahamic religions as ‘dharma’ to distinguish their inherent nature. Even religious Shinto-Buddhist Japanese say they have no religion when asked. Also, I do not know how you came up with these nine basic so-called ‘beliefs’. I am a Hindu and have never heard of some of them. Please call them ‘some’ of the hypotheses of Hinduism that ‘some’ Hindus agree with. Disagree with ‘tolerance for other faiths’, respect for other dharma – yes, tolerance – not applicable. This word ‘tolerance’ is required by Abrahamic religions which are intrinsically supremacist. Hence they need tolerance to be able to live in a diverse civil society without the tendency to occasionally commit violence for their religion. A dharma like Hinduism has nothing to ‘tolerate’. A Hindu/Jain/Buddhist/Shinto/Taoist/etc. does not care about the religious ‘labels’ and will easily exchange gods/practices/hypotheses with each other if they make sense or are harmless but satisfy some need. Of course, things that are bad deserve criticism and no tolerance (except for basic human respect). How can anyone attempt to define a culture that has always been and will always be in flux as human knowledge increases? It’s time we restored our so-called ‘religion’ to what it always has been i.e. ancient science.

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Buddhism Speaks: Evils and Morals

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Buddhism is attributed to the teachings of the Buddha. Pixabay
  • Desire(meaning greed, lust, clinging), Anger and hatred, Ignorance & Fear and anxiety are the things which lead to evil in Buddhism.
  • killing, or harming any living thing, stealing – taking what is not yours to take, sexual irresponsibility, lying or any hurtful speech, alcohol and drugs which diminish clarity of consciousness are the morals in Buddhism.

Teachings of Buddhism: Practices & Ethics

Buddhism is a religion that follows a certain set of beliefs and values attributed by the teachings of The Buddha. Like every religion, Buddhism has also its own notions of what is evil and good. When we say the word evil, we derive many meanings from it. If someone or something is evil to one person, it might not be for another. According to Buddhism, people aren’t good/bad or morally correct/incorrect, they simply create certain traits in themselves which only they can undo. Buddha preached a concept known as “Dependent Origination” implying that everything and everyone is interconnected. If everything is interconnected, how can someone be above the other and how can one person be wrong and the other right? Such teachings of Buddha opened up many minds and raised the right kind of questions.

Their teachings were eye-openers. Pixabay

5 Morals Of Buddhism:

  • Avoid killing, or harming any living thing.
  •  Avoid stealing – taking what is not yours to take.
  •  Avoid sexual irresponsibility, which for monks and nuns means celibacy.
  • Avoid lying, or any hurtful speech.
  •  Avoid alcohol and drugs which diminish clarity of consciousness.

3 Evils of Buddhism:

  •  Greed

According to Buddhism, the greatest sin is Greed as it is encompassing sin which includes all sins that are related to desiring anything in excess is money, yearning, lust, food and inability to let go of things easily. Buddha suggests all sins that relate to wanting more like the capital sins of Christianity namely greed, gluttony and lust come under one single sin i.e. Greed.

Buddhism relates sins to the characteristics one adopts. Pixabay

  • Hatred

    Hatred is a powerful emotion which is said to be more powerful than love as it drives one to destructive acts of anger, fury and destruction, both physical and mental. Hatred is also self- destructive as if you give in to hatred you are practically bending the knee to your own enemy.  Among the capital sins of Christianity, hatred is linked to the sins of wrath and envy.

  • Ignorance

    Ignorance is a sin which can drive one to delude their surroundings and take them to states of pride, sloth and envy ( the Christian sins) . It is also one of the primary evils as it includes delusion.

    Ignorance is the ultimate sin. Pixabay

3 Ways to Remove Evils in Buddhism:

  • Practicing Self-Control

    Buddha suggests practicing self -control as it helps free yourself from the clutches of your vulnerability to the state of loss by your own choice. A person must practice self –control to attain a level of satisfaction which would prevent Greed.

  • Love, Acceptance & Forgiveness

    Practicing the act of love, acceptance and forgiveness are important in order to move past the sin of hatred. One cannot achieve inner peace until when is comfortable with their own emotions.

    Love and kindness are major virtues of Buddhism. Pixabay
  • Dependent Origination

    As mentioned earlier, the concept of dependent origination is a way to attain salvation where one must not jump to conclusions and judge others when everyone is the same and interconnected. One should analyze the cause and effect of every situation to rid themselves of any preconceived notions.

Prepared by Tanya Kathuria of Newsgram; Twitter: @TanyaKathuria97