The secularism debate


Secularism as practiced in India has created more problems than it has solved.

The secularism debate

The present secular model of India fails to offer a credible counter to Hindutva which claims to unite people above castes and region. It is time for some deep thinking for Indian liberals. The recent electoral victories of the BJP in the larger states show that the secular values have hollowed out. The Indian practice of secularism is not in tune with its real meaning – separation of state and religion (in fact, it is the reverse!). Secularism here is electoral management, as Muslims are considered as a mere vote-bank, to be kept intact for garnering votes. That is quite demeaning for crores of Indian citizens. These vote-banks have been handed over to the middlemen like clerics, mullahs and Muslim religious strongmen, most of them with criminal credentials. They no longer help garner support, but their candidates in the fray are unacceptable and unelectable. The clerics became deities, when Congress overturned the Supreme Court’s liberal and women-friendly Shah Bano judgment in 1986, through the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, overturning the Supreme Court’s judgement. Download the entire SC judgement 1985, and the Law made by Congress in 1986, from the Bodhi Resource page 

In one shot, this reinforced the ‘separateness’ of Muslims and gave the initial boost to the BJP. The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is a collection of orthodox male dominant clerics whose main purpose is to protect Sharia law, controls the Muslim dynamics in India. It manages nearly 300,000 registered Waqf properties (second largest landholding in India, after the Indian railways). This massive national resource could have been used for the welfare of the community. Most Waqf Boards have turned into repositories of corruption and crime. Any scrutiny of these is projected as an attack on Islam. This has rendered the Muslim community to remain eternally poor. They have slipped on all human development indices. As far as Muslim appeasement is concerned; it seems that only the clerics have been appeased. In reality, Muslims are artisans, craftsmen and weavers. They are intellectual reservoirs of poetry and literature; they are architects of the highest quality. But all that has been lost. Mirza Ghalib mocked the Mullahs not recently but over 200 years back. The recent elections have shown that politicians like BSP’s Ms. Mayawati and the SP leaders have been branded communal, and that has hurt the community rather than help it. It is time they introspect. Read our full Bodhi on analysis of recent elections. 

For an India of the future, it is time for a thorough rebooting of established power structures, especially in the Muslim community, if the poor Muslims (the majority) are truly to benefit. Else, the Hindutva wave will naturally grow  and the whole secular narrative will change. The Liberals will only have themselves to blame.

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Bodhi Saar: The secularism debate
The secularism debate
Secularism as practiced in India has created more problems than it has solved.
Bodhi Saar
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