Secularism in India refers to the equal status and treatment of all religions.The dictionary meaning of the word ‘secularism’ is skepticism in matters of religion. But we, in India, use the work in a broader sense. We use the word to mean impartiality or non-interference by the Government of the country in matters of religion.
Independent India is one of the largest states in the world of today with a population of nearly 120 crores.
This vast population is made up of people professing different religions like Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity etc. and practicing different religious rites.
One of India’s guiding principles in impartiality in religious matters. India wants her citizens to cling to any religion they like without any government interference.
And this noble decision of the Indian Government is unequivocally proclaimed in the amended Preamble to the Constitution of our country.
Historically, India has been a land with powerful religious sects. So, religious tolerance has been one of the traditional social values in the country.
The same religious tolerance expressed by Ashok more than 2300years ago has been one of the Indian social values.
India has a long history of secular tradition. In medieval times, the Sufi and Bhakti saints contributed greatly to the ideals of human unity and harmony. The State also extended its patronage to all the communities impartially.
Though some rulers, at times, did deviate from secular ideals, it was only for brief periods, and without affecting seriously the secular nature of the State. In fact, in such cases it only weakened the foundations of their own rule.
Secularism as practiced in India, with its marked differences with Western practice of secularism, is a controversial topic in India. Supporters of the Indian concept of secularism claim it respects Muslim men’s religious rights and recognizes that they are culturally different from Indians of other religions.
Supporters of this form of secularism claim that any attempt to introduce a uniform civil code, that is equal laws for every citizen irrespective of his or her religion, would impose majoritarian Hindu sensibilities and ideals, something that is unacceptable to Muslim Indians.
Opponents argue that India’s acceptance of Sharia and religious laws violates the principle of equal human rights, discriminates against Muslim women, allows unelected religious personalities to interpret religious laws, and creates plurality of unequal citizenship; they suggest India should move towards separating religion and state.
The national language of India is Hindi however there are almost 22 official languages and 400 other languages are spoken daily in India in its various states and territories.
According to the history, India has been recognized as the birthplace of the religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. Huge population of the India belongs to the Hindu religion. Other variations of the Hinduism are Shaiva, Shakta, Vaishnava and Smarta.
The process of secularisation started in India during British rule. But the process of secularisation took its course unlike Western Europe renaissance and reformation in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The process was very slow. However, this worldly outlook, rationality and secular education gradually affected various aspects of religions in India.
Various laws of social reformation, modern education, transport and communication contributed towards decline in religiosity among the Hindus.