Secularism of festivities

The controversy over judges meet on Good Friday is an opportunity to explore roots of this key principle

shishir

Shishir Tripathi | April 6, 2015


#secularism   #supreme court   #good friday   #BJP   #chief justice of india   #HL Dattu  

Justice Kurian Joseph’s objection to the chief justice of India, HL Dattu, holding the chief justices conference on Good Friday and Easter is more than a tussle among the top judiciary on a specific issue; it has important connotations. While the sensationalising of the issue is totally uncalled for, complete silence over it –considering it as ‘family’ issue, which will be settled by the ‘head of the family’ – will also serve no purpose.

Joining the debate, former CJI VN Khare said that justice Joseph’s position reflected the apprehensions of religious minorities. Certainly it does and the reason to an extent is attributed to our inability to adhere to the Indian notion of secularism. A national holiday on the festivals of all the religious groups can be seen as a symbolic act, but digging a bit deeper will show the entrenchment of our notion of secularism within such symbolisms.

While the spate of communal clashes in the last few years have left a heavy dent in the secular fabric of the country, the concern reflected by justice Joseph talks of others aspects of our secular edifice.

Communal violence, of course, has several socio-political undercurrents, yet any questions regarding the secular structure of the country (like the one raised in the current issue) has to be addressed in a different manner. And for this one needs to dwell on the basic idea of secularism.

The term ‘secularisation’ traces its origin in the west, and was first used in 1648 at the end of the thirty-year war in Europe to refer to the transfer of church properties to the exclusive control of princes. Since then the term in different times and places has been bestowed with different attributes.

In its original sense secularism was a principle which supported the separation of the church from state affairs. And the principal ideology supporting it was liberalism which launched an attack on the catholic church and demanded religious freedom raised by protestant groups and its counterparts and stressed on drawing a clear dividing line between the church and the state, baring the former from interfering in the affairs of the government.

However, too much stress on this western notion and ignoring our homegrown counterpart of it is what complicates the issue.

The hard-line separation of the church or the religious domain from the state affairs sometimes projected western secularism as anti-religious. But in the Indian context secularism is not seen as a negative concept or negation of religion – rather it is seen as a positive concept calling for equal treatment and respect to all religions irrespective of their history, position or its professed ideologies. In short, ‘Sarva Dharma Sambhav’.
                
This connotation of secularism has been characterised by Ashis Nandy as ‘Indianism’, but long history of this version of secularism has given India a sense of equal treatment to all religions and identified it with religious tolerance.

To quote Dr. Radhakrishnan, “secularism does not mean irreligious or atheism nor even stress on material comforts. It proclaims that no religion should be given preferential status or unique distinction, that no religion should be accorded special privileges in national life or international relation for that would be violation of the basic principles of democracy and contrary to best interest of religion and government.” He further adds, “no person shall suffer any form of disability or discrimination because of religion but all alike should be free to share to fullest degree in the common life.”

When those occupying the high offices feel that there is “tinkering” of one of the most cherished values of democracy, there is certainly some gap in our democratic structure.

Religious festivities also are about “sharing in common life”. And it should be allowed to all, irrespective of their religion. It is important and necessary for us to assert the tag of a secular state. Mere insertion of an adjective in the preamble of the constitution certainly would fail to ensure a secular society that we claim to be.

Comments

 

Other News

Modi at Davos: On how to realise the dream of a beautiful shared future

Prime minister Narendra Modi underlined the need for a consensus among the nation to realise the dream of a beautiful shared future, as he addressed the plenary session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Tuesday. After introductory remarks by the Forum`s founder and executive chai

RECTPCL hands over SPV to Power Grid Corp

REC Transmission Projects Company Ltd (RECTPCL), a subsidiary of Rural Electrification Corporation Ltd (REC), has handed over project specific special purpose vehicle (SPV) namely ERSS XXI Transmission Ltd to Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL). Competing alongside with the private p

BEML launches new wheel loader

Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), a ministry of defence PSU, has launched a 5.4 ton wheel loader BL30-1 at Excon Exhibition 2017 in Bangalore. The high performance and rugged wheel loader is designed and developed by BEML. BL30-1 Frontend Wheel Loader is designed for maximum

SC must be subject to constant scrutiny: Justice Chelameswar

The supreme court should be subjected to constant scrutiny so that it improves, Justice Jasti Chelameswar said at a book release function on Monday. This was his first public appearance in Delhi after a January 12 press conference at which he and three fellow judges had spoken up about their differences wi

Karat then, Yechury now; Left leadership remains clueless

Much before Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury got marginalised within the party’s central committee last week over the possibility of an alliance with the Congress, is learnt to have had an interesting conversation with Arun Jaitley, his fellow student-politician ba

Thumri should be taught in schools: Chhannulal Mishra

Pandit Chhannulal Mishra is a noted exponent of Banaras and Kairana gharanas. Born in Hariharpur of Azamgarh district, he learnt musical notes from various gurus and thus his music is an amalgamation of various forms and gharanas. His classical folk music has been mesmerising music lovers across the wo

Current Issue

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter