Answer the following question.
"Secularism is not an ideology of some political parties or persons, but it is one of the foundations of our country." Examine the statement.
Secularism means the non-interference of the state and the religion in the affairs of each other. In the Indian context, it refers to the freedom of an individual to practice the religion of her/his choice. India is a secular state as the state has no religion of its own. The Constitution of India guarantees equality of all religions and prohibits discrimination against any individual on grounds of religion.
Secularism in India is practiced in the following manner:
- Indian Secularism is based on the principle of equal respect for all religions, where the State respects every religious community and their sentiments.
- It guarantees the right to freedom of religion to all, allows everyone to freely practice, profess, and propagate one's religious beliefs.
- The state does not favour any particular religion, nor it promotes any particular religion.
- Indian secularism practices an attitude of a principled and equal distance from all religions.
- The State will not interfere in the religious practices of any religion. For example, Sikhs are allowed to wear Turbans, which is their religious symbol.
- However, this does not mean that our principle of Secularism is absolute, State practices principled distance where it can initiate state-sponsored reform, to deal with certain religious practices which are discriminatory and unjust, like caste.
- Government, for instance, has abolished sati, untouchability for the purpose of reforming the Hindu religion. Any interference by the State in religion is to be based on the ideals laid down in the constitution.