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Essay on “Secular Character of India” Complete Essay for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Secular Character of India

India is one of the secular nations of the world. The Constitution of India guarantees equal rights to all the citizens. The subjects of the State can practise any religion or support any theological stream. In fact, tolerance of all religions has been the basic tenet of our culture. This is the reason why Muslim invaders—beginning with Mahmood Ghaznavi in 1,000 AD—had an easy access to India.

Islam flourished on Indian soil. Akbar, the great Moghul Emperor, won over the Indian populace on the touchstone of his tolerance. He founded Din-i-Illahi or the Religion of Gad to which people of any religion were invited to join. Akbar married Jodhabai, a Rajput princess, and made her brother Man Singh, Commander-in-chief or sipah-salar of his army. At his Ibadat Khana or Prayer Hall at Fatehpur Sikri, priests of different faiths came to express their views about spiritualism.

All this tolerance enraged the Ulema or Muslim clergy but he won over the large Indian masses. Aurangzeb, the last of the Moghuls, reversed Akbar’s policy of religious tolerance. He levied tax like Jaziya on Hindus only. Gradually, the empire disintegrated because. Hindu commanders and officials became antagonists and did not like the polarised character of the Moghul State. Thus, history is witness to the fact that secularism alone is the unifying force that can hold a country of such diversities as are possessed by India.

In Indian Constitution also, secularism is the very essence. The Constitution provides a foundation for raising the infrastructure of Indian polity. It has been the best suited device to promote the well-being and healthy growth of the nation in view of the diversity of religions, cultures, races and languages. Religious tolerance is a unique feature of Indian people.

We are very rigid and orthodox in our own social concepts and practices in some cases but in the case of others, we have been very liberal in allowing them to worship according to their religions. That is why the most desirable line of action to be adopted by our national leadership at the time of framing of our Constitution was to take up secularism as the basis to foster emotional integrity in the Indian communities. Our forefathers wanted to build a national character with chief facet of mutual tolerance.

It will be a grossly mistaken view if one thinks that the decision to adopt secularism was a convenient policy of the State. Rather, it was a value upheld by the national leadership after Independence, in the larger interests of the communities. It is closely linked with rich heritage of our country and its social fabric as there could be no other basis for preserving our heritage and ensuring its healthy growth.

Led by Indian National Congress against the British imperialism, our Independence Movement always maintained secular character, which was so strong that it could not be undermined by imperialist rulers despite their policy of ‘divide and rule’ and the voices of communalism raised by Muslim League or Hindu Shiv Sena.

In the post-Independence era, there has been a ‘transitional period’ in which, right reactionary forces have been active in the country that cause harm to the secular structure of our society. But it was a temporary phase of communal orgy. As soon as it was over, our people began to realise the grave dangers of communal frenzy. The experience of the riots breaking out after partition was too bitter to forget.

The structure of our polity rests on the foundation of secularism—the other foundations being democracy and socialism, providing support to it which is as strong as the former. It is a proven fact that some political parties try to exploit every political, social, or economic situation by raising bogey of communalism. i.e. by sowing the seeds of hatred between the two communities in a bid to gain political advantage. As such, it has occasionally been giving severe jolts to the foundations of secularism. Such manipulations by communal forces as well as the politicians have been a source of discontent among the masses.

Theological terrorism poses serious challenges to these secular-minded people who are on the path to achievement of our socio-economic objectives. There are certain aspects, which should be very clearly understood by the intellectuals and youth who are the saviours of the nation and who have a vital role to play in the process of developing the national character of India.

First of all, it should be very clearly understood that religion has nothing to do with the functioning of the administration. There is no religion in the world, which promotes hatred between the two communities or deprecates any religion of the world. Human values, equality and social justice are the real values of all religions. Secondly, communal riots, which have been frequently recurring in our country, are not based on religious controversies or caste conflicts. No person is murdered by rioters simply because he practices a different religion from theirs or because his religious practice has harmed any one. Thirdly, communalism has been exploited by the reactionary forces to create dissension amongst the people and disrupt the economic progress of the nation.

The communal card has been used in India with an ulterior motive of disrupting in our progress by the national and religious villains as well as by our enemies from across the border. They have succeeded in this mission on account of different reason. They pose a great danger to our nation as well as to the masses. They weaken the foundations of our democratic set-up. In order to strengthen the democratic institutions and also, to achieve socio-economic objectives of our nation, it is very important to cut down the communal monster to size. We have had enough of blows by the devil of communalism during the past five decades: we cannot take any more of them.

The administrative measures to curb communalism call for establishment of special units of police force, paramilitary troops, provincial armed constabulary and intelligence agencies to deal strictly and effectively with such persons, groups and forces who attempt to provide communal tinge to any incident. A slackened attitude on the pad of the police or intelligence officers, undue favour to some sections should be made an offence. The offender must be awarded severe punishment.

Social steps for strengthening secularism include the constitution of public committees at various levels to function as vigilance organs. These committees should work in proper coordination with the various government agencies to apprise them of the situation that has caused, or is likely to cause communal disharmony or has caused any discrimination on communal grounds.

An inter-religion council should be formed to promote religious harmony as well as, regulate relations and mutual cooperation amongst various communities to avoid conflict amongst various religious groups or amongst the community and the State. Courts should be given special instructions in respect of trials under offence to secularism.

Government of India may appoint a high-power commission to give suggestions for promotion of secularism and also to provide safeguard to it. Gandhiji’s attempt to hold Hindus and Muslims together led to his assassination. He tried to persuade Jinnah not to make efforts for a separate State. He even conceded the Prime Ministership of India to him. But all was in vain. Bloodshed ensued after partition. In free India, the Constitution protected the rights of the minorities to such an extent that the Hindus blamed the government for being partial. This led to the formation of some fundamentalist Hindu organizations like the Shiv Sena and the Vishva Hindu Parishad.

The foundations of secularism have been receiving severe jolts quite frequently. With the demolition of the Babri Mosque, the minorities started nurturing a feeling of insecurity. The Mumbai riots were a reprisal of the Ayodhya incident. The situation is well under control but the communal volcano could erupt any time.

It is, therefore, the politician who is trying to inflame communal passions to satisfy his lust for power. The Indians—Hindu, Muslim or Sikh—only wants to live in harmony and got on with their work. Politicisation of religion has to be checked before it erodes the foundations of our secular democracy. In fact it is a myth that India has a single dominant religion. The Christians came to Kerala much earlier than they went to Europe. Even now, we could see synagogues of Jews and churches of Christians in Kerala. The Muslims also settled there long ago.

Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan said, “light is good, no matter from what lamp it comes.’ Good ideas and teachings are found in all the faiths of the world. Gandhiji put our secular nature in a nutshell. “I do not wish my country to be walled in from all sides or want its windows shut; I wish the breeze of all the lands to blow in!” The evil communal forces would never succeed in decimating our strong societal fabric.

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