JAC Board Class 8th Social Science Notes Civics Chapter 2 Understanding Secularism
→ The acts of discrimination take place more easily when one religion is given official recognition by the State at the expense of other religions.
→ What is Secularism?
- The Indian Constitution allows individuals the freedom to live by their religious beliefs and practices as they interpret these.
- In keeping with this idea of religious freedom for all, India also adopted a strategy of separating the power of religion and the power of the State.
- Secularism refers to this separation of religion from the State.
→ Why is it Important to Separate Religion from the State?
- The most important aspect of secularism is its separation of religion from State power. This is important for a country to function democratically.
- If the majority religious group has access to State power. then it could quite easily use this power and financial resources to discriminate against and persecute persons of other religions.
- This tyranny of the majority could result in discrimination, coercion and at times even the killing of religious minorities.
- The tyranny of the majority and the violation of Fundamental Rights that can result is one reason why it is important to separate the State and religion in democratic societies.
- Another reason that is important to separate religion from the State in democratic societies is because we also need to protect the freedom of individuals to exit from their religion, embrace another religion or have the freedom to interpret religious teachings differently.
→ What is Indian Secularism?
- The Indian Constitution mandates that the Indian State be secular.
- According to the Constitution, only a secular State can realise its objectives to ensure the following:
- That one religious community does not dominate another;
- That some members do not dominate other members of the same religious community;
- That the State does not enforce any particular religion nor take away the religious freedom of individuals.
- The Indian State works in various ways to prevent the domination. First, it uses a strategy of distancing itself from religion.
- The Indian State is not ruled by a religious group and nor does it support any one religion.
- Government schools cannot promote any one religion either in their morning prayers or through religious celebrations. This rule does not apply to private schools.
- The second way in which Indian secularism works to prevent the domination is through a strategy of non-interference.
- The third way in which Indian secularism works to prevent the domination is through a strategy of intervention.
- In order to prevent the religion-based exclusion and discrimination of Tower castes’, the Indian Constitution bans untouchability.
- To ensure that laws relating to equal inheritance rights are respected, the State may have to intervene in the religion-based ‘personal laws’ of communities.
- The intervention of the State can also be in the form of support.
- The Indian Constitution grants the right to religious communities to set up their own schools and colleges.
- The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the legislature from making laws ‘respecting an establishment of religion’ or that ‘prohibit the free exercise of religion’.
- In the U.S.A., the separation between State and religion means that neither the State nor religion can interfere in the affairs of one another.
- Unlike the strict separation between religion and the State in American secularism, in Indian secularism the State can intervene in religious affairs. This is the difference.
→ In Indian secularism, though the State is not strictly separate from religion it does maintain a principled distance vis-a-vis religion.
- This means that any interference in religion by the State has to be based on the ideals laid out in the Constitution.
- The Indian State is secular and works in various ways to prevent religious domination.
- The Indian Constitution guarantees Fundamental Rights that are based on these secular principles.
- The knowledge that such rights exist makes us sensitive to the violations that occurs and enables us to take action when these violations take place.