Representational image | Women stitch the Indian national flag for Independence Day, at Khadi Gramodyog Samyukta centre, Hubli | PTI
Representational image | Women stitch the Indian national flag for Independence Day, at Khadi Gramodyog Samyukta centre, Hubli | PTI
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Brilliant answers. But what was the question? That is how I look back at the rich, furious and short-lived debate on secularism after 5 August. My quick reaction to Ayodhya Ram Mandir bhoomi pujan, in line with what I have written and spoken repeatedly, triggered some of these responses. While I was happy that the provocation finally succeeded in getting Pratap Mehta, among my favourite political commentators, to offer a brilliant response, I wasn’t sure if I could get him to address the real questions.

This is not academic nuance. The future of India depends on how we pose and answer these three questions about Indian secularism: What is the state of its health? Why did it reach where it did? And what is to be done now?

In my various interventions on this issue, I have suggested that the idea of a secular republic is now in dire state. In 2019, we crossed the Rubicon, and are now in a naked majoritarian state that still keeps the fiction of a secular constitution alive, as long as the judiciary does not take it seriously. In this sense, secularism is as good as dead. Over the years, I have got tired of just blaming the Sangh Parivar for this demise of the secular state. While repeatedly noting the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) criminal culpability and the anti-national credentials of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), I have also held the secular ‘establishment’ responsible for the present state of affairs. Specifically, I blame opportunistic politicians and deracinated intellectuals who passed off as guardians of secularism. The way forward, therefore, is not merely a political battle to vote out this government. We need to engage in a long-term cultural battle, where secularism must speak our languages and learn the language of religions and traditions.


Also read: Modi redefined secularism with Ram Mandir as Hindu voters were fed up of Sonia-Left version


Similar analysis

Pratap Mehta does not seem to disagree with the first part of my assessment, about the death of secularism. Suhas Palshikar has recently offered a similar reading. Shekhar Gupta disagrees, as he recounts the multiple times the death of secularism has been announced. That’s true. But isn’t it also true that big ideals like democracy and secularism die many deaths? Isn’t it our duty to record and dissect every time something dies in these foundational dreams? Shekhar thinks that what has died is just the opportunistic minorityism masquerading as secularism. It has, and no one should shed a tear. But is that all? Or are the rumours about everyday discrimination, lynching, the new citizenship law and the strange silence of the apex judiciary also wildly exaggerated? Is Shekhar waiting for the unlikely official declaration of a theocratic state before recognising the death of secularism?


Also read: What will replace the first Indian republic? Three journeys democracy can take now


Different diagnosis

Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s real objection is to my diagnosis that he finds it “historically problematic, philosophically dubious and culturally dangerous”. Strong words! He offers strong arguments as well: It is historically inaccurate to think that the problem of communalism arose in India due to a lack of theological or religious dialogue; it was and continues to be a political issue “born in the crucible of democracy and nationalism”. Similarly, the contest today is not about the nature of religiosity, but about the politics of “marginalising Muslims from the Indian narrative”. It is ethically wrong to allow politics to define true religion. It is a slippery cultural slope to grant that Hinduism and our languages have been neglected, because it gives in to the false victimology of Hindus.

Actually, I agree with Pratap. Almost. When I complain that secularists do not engage with the language of religion and traditions, I do not for a minute believe that such an engagement would have persuaded L.K. Advani not to undertake the rath yatra. I too tremble at the thought of political leaders deciding who is a true Hindu or a true Muslim. And yes, I have held myself back for long from public critique of secular ideas and practices lest it become fodder for the biggest propaganda machine of our times. But now, we have reached a stage where there is no option except honest public introspection.

Once the secularists face the truth of their defeat or even a ‘setback’ as Rajeev Bhargava puts it, they must ask: why did we lose this political battle? It is easy to blame the opportunistic and inept politics of ‘secular’ political parties on this score. The deeper question is: why did we lose the battle of ideas that prepared the ground for a political defeat? Why has the entire spectrum of Hindu public opinion turned against secularism? Pratap does not engage with this difficult question in his eloquent critique. When he does, I am sure he would agree with me that it is lazy to blame Right-wing propaganda alone. Custodians of secularism must take the blame for this.

Those who wrote history, those who wrote textbooks, those who shaped public opinion, those who presided over education – they all failed. People Like Us failed. We failed because we failed to connect. And we failed to connect to the commonsense of the ordinary Hindus, because we did not speak their language, literally and metaphorically. The social distance, cultural illiteracy and intellectual arrogance of the deracinated secular elite contributed a good deal to de-legitimisation of secularism. There is no avoiding this harsh conclusion.


Also read: Don’t blame only English elite. Indian secularism failed in Hindi heartland first


Divergent readings

Pratap Bhanu Mehta thinks that I over-estimate the control of some Left-liberal scholars on Indian academia. I don’t. Their presence was limited to a few campuses, but they set the template for pretty much rest of India’s higher education in social sciences and the humanities. The NCERT books were more or less copied by most state boards. The Left-liberal establishment controlled the public and the private media until the 1980s. Pratap lists a number of illustrious Hindi writers who were secular in orientation. He is spot-on: I cannot think of even 10 non-secular Hindi writers of some repute in post-Independence India, a point recognised by Ashutosh Bhardwaj. I suppose the same is true of most Indian languages. But that is my point: bhasha intellectuals did not give up on secularism. The secular establishment gave up on non-English intellectuals, as did the media empires in the bhashas.

This may be a small difference. A more serious difference may arise if we go into the depth of how the secular establishment handled Hinduism. True, much of the sense of injury that the majority community carries today, in the midst of majoritarian stream-rolling, is manufactured. It is also true that seculars have been indifferent to all religions. Yet, today, we cannot afford to dodge the inconvenient question: was it not kosher in intellectual circles to mock at Hinduism more than any other religions? Is it not fashionable even today to reduce Hinduism to the worst feature of Indian society, namely the caste system? Doesn’t the secular response to Hinduism resemble the colonial response?

Pratap worries that a focus on intellectual Hindu-bashing might distract from the reality of Muslim-bashing on the streets. The trouble is that the two are connected. Ideological Hinduism-bashing has robbed secular politics of the cultural resources with which to combat Islamophobia and Muslim-bashing of the worst kind.


Also read: ‘Secularists & distorians’, not Muslims, scared of real history — RSS editorial on Ram Mandir


What’s the prescription?

All this relates to the final operational question: what is to be done? Pratap’s answer is attractive: “a new freedom struggle to salvage individual dignity and rights”. But it is unhelpful, because its passion barely conceals a deep pessimism. Yes, we need nothing short of a new freedom struggle. Yes, we must salvage individual dignity and rights. Yes, we must not keep playing religious hurts against one another. But how do we do that? How do we gather public support for this new freedom struggle? How do we regain legitimacy for the ideals of secularism? Even if the objective is to detach religion from politics, how do we get the public to endorse it? How do we shift the spectrum of public opinion?

Pratap’s sharp analysis doesn’t help me answer this all-important question of our times. There are no short-cuts. Older formulas of countering Hindu communalism with Bahujan majoritarianism or regional politics has not worked. We cannot depend upon electoral arithmetic to correct the excesses of democracy. A clever calculus of short-term political gains would, in fact, push the opposition parties towards playing the game on the BJP’s wicket, something that most opposition parties have started doing. This is not going to defeat the BJP. Even if it does, it won’t lead to salvaging the spirit of secularism. Movements on real-life economic issues are certainly the way forward, but these too require cultural and ideological acceptance.

There is no way except to take on the cultural and ideological acceptance of toxic majoritarianism. There is no way except to craft a new and more attractive nationalism. And for this, there is no way except what the RSS did for decades: enter into difficult dialogue with ordinary people. And for that there is no way except speak the peoples’ language. The battle to save the republic must involve popular debates in Indian languages that invoke and reinterpret our cultural traditions and religions, including Hinduism. Speaking religious language does not mean uncritically accepting whatever any religious text says or reiterating the lessons of piety or foregrounding religion as the issue of politics. What we call religion or traditions provide the alphabet of moral sensibility for most Indians.

You can quarrel with words, but not with the alphabet. You must use the given alphabet to create your own new words. A commitment to the idea of India must involve resistance to the idea of a majoritarian India. Yet, a new idea of India cannot be forged out of a phoney, imitative cosmopolitanism that pretends to outgrow nationalism. It must be grounded in those aspects of our traditions that allow us to build a just future. That remains the principal challenge for secular politics. We could begin by looking for a word for ‘secularism’,  other than dharma nirpekshata or panth nirpekshata, which has some resonance in our languages.

Pratap suspects that I am looking for the key where the light happens to be. And he is right. I have put the spotlight of causal reasoning and future responsibility on those who swear by the ideal of a secular India, for it is pointless to keep blaming those who have no investment in this ideal. We must focus on what was wrong with us and how we can do things differently. Unlike a political analyst, a political activist must search for keys where the light is.

The author is the national president of Swaraj India. Views are personal.

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96 COMMENTS

  1. Why did the enntire spectrum of hindu public opinion turn against secularism? Did you ever bother to reason, that secularism died in 1947 becqause of partition. STILL it was kept alive by Nehru and the hold the congress had on hindus. Since the start of islamic insuurgency in kashmir the entire hindu public opinion turned against secularism. As long as kashmir was secular, india was secular. Kashmir became an islamic state, india becomes a hindu rashtra. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Newtons third law of motion. simple

  2. I wonder why Mr. Yadav is mourning death of secularism. Secularism has survived under Hindu, Christians, Buddhist, Jain governed countries. We had no opportunity to form a opinion about Judaism. As far as Islam is concerned , please show me countries governed by Muslims/Islam having a thriving secular governance. Turkey had a history of it. Today, well , it is only a history. Malaysia is travelling on the same road. The three tough questions he talks of are not really tough. Here are three questions he must reply in his next essay. 1. Why Indian secularism allows Loudspeakers from Mosques to wake up whole of India? 2. Why Indian secularism allows government to control temples but not Mosques or Churches? 3. Why Indian secularism changes personal laws of Hindus overruling their religious believes but shies away from common civil code?

  3. Bravo Mr Josyar! You suffer from verbal diarrhoea– And you are more of an embarrassment for Mr yadav than any of his detractors.

  4. Article 25 of the Indian Constitution states.

    “Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion
    (1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion”

    Should this article be scrapped ?

    YES

    or

    NO ?

    Why not answer me with a simple YES or NO ?

  5. There are 2 fundamental aspects with the understanding of secularism that this article does not clarify. And the many comments that have come in do not seem to grasp these nuances either. Any student of political science would have noted two inextricably linked features of modern liberal governments – democracy & secularism:

    1: In a democracy, all people are treated as equals by the State and in the eye of the law

    2: Secularism flows from democracy, that is the notion and right to equal treatment by the State, regardless of one’s religious choices. In other words, as far as the State is concerned, the citizen’s religion confers upon him no advantage or disadvantage. Also secularism may or may not entail a strict separation of Church* and State and historical roles of the Church and relations with the Church may dictate the type of association. Or lack thereof.

    In the French version of secularism where there is strict separation of Church and even antagonism towards the Church, the term used is “laïcité”. Laïcité builds on 4 pillars:

    (a) freedom of religious expression (liberté);
    (b) separation of religious institutions from the state and the very important principle of non-interference of religious bodies in the affairs of the state and vice versa, (séparation);
    (c) The neutrality of the state when dealing with people of different faiths. This principle means that officials of the state such as judges, policemen, teachers etc. cannot bear visible religious symbols while doing their duties (neutralité);
    (d) Equality i.e. the state treats all citizens equally, regardless of their religious affiliations (égalité).
    See the short video “La Laïcité en 3 minutes” at Ref: bit.ly/2DJ1ts5
    (Alas, available only in French)

    In many Western European countries like Norway, Sweden, Denmark, UK etc. there is less “séparation” between Church and State than in France. For instance, the Church is funded through taxes and Christianity is the Official religion. But that is due to historical reasons. In the past, the Church performed the role of a mayor’s office. The Church maintained birth records, marriage records, death records, performed marriages, funerals, baptisms, maintained cemeteries, church buildings, clock towers etc. etc. Today, the Church performs some of these functions and taxes go to fund these activities by the Church.

    This has led some commenters to suggest that other countries do not have separation between Church and State and why should India be asked to do so. But the fact is in most Western European states, other religious congregations also get funding for their religious activities.

    Take the case of Norway. While the State religion is Lutheran Christianity in Norway, the country financially supports several hundred religions. These include the AL Tawba Islamisk Senter, Elverum Islamisk Senter, Bergen Hindu Sabha, Norges Saivite Hindu Kultursenter, Shri Guru Nanak Niwas, Shri Guru Ram Das Sangat Vestfold and so on. The full list of several hundred religious organisations encompassing 678,433 members supported financially by the Norwegian government is available here: bit.ly/30KmAmT

    Likewise, in Denmark, the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs (Kirkeministeriet, ref: bit.ly/3gPWtkb) provides financial support to other religions.

    In Sweden, the Swedish Agency for Support to Faith Communities (Myndigheten för stöd till trossamfund, ref: bit.ly/2XRGFWs) provides support to other religious communities.

    In all these countries, the democratic principle of equality is sacrosanct and that applies to the religious sphere. Thus, despite a somewhat more overt Christian image due to historical and pragmatic reasons, the State practises secularism as a natural consequence of democracy. Equality is the watchword.

    Now contrast this with Pakistan where the State religion is Islam. Hindus, Sikhs, Christians etc. do not face equality in the eye of the law, leave alone funding for their faiths. Indeed, coerced conversions are the norm and violence towards minorities is endemic in Pakistan. Pakistan is not democratic and has no secularism. However, it is much worse in places like Saudi Arabia – if that is of any comfort to any Pakistanis reading this comment !

    In India, secularism has suffered because Indian political parties have used it opportunistically for electoral gains. In the process, they have weakened democracy in the country. The Hindu feels he has less rights than the Muslim or the Christian; the Muslim gets shortchanged as his lot has not improved due to the systemic discrimination he faces at the hands of Hindus. Worse still, he is in mortal danger of being lynched these days as in supposedly democratic India, he is still not an equal. This perception of unequal treatment and persistent inequality corrodes and etches democracy in India.

    BOTTOMLINE: Separation of State and Church is no pre-requisite for secularism as long as the country is a democracy and there is equality (égalité) in front of the law; liberty (liberté) to practise your religion. And conversely, if people are treated differently based on their religions or do not have the right to freely practise their religions, you do not live in democracy.

    *Church & State is an English expression that must not be taken literally. It merely means religion and state

    • To define secularism we must first define religion, and why there was and always will be conflicts among different religions.

      RELIGION: Ancient form of constitution (law) of a particular group of people based on the prevalent understanding of the world of the time. More abstractly, a common code or law.

      CONFLICTS AMONG RELIGIONS: Ours or natures’ necessity of a common code. “Human reason” or what we call ‘Abstraction’ is nothing but finding common in seemingly uncommon things. And the simplicity of commonness, of oneness will never fail to fascinate human reasoning. In other words, Our inability to achieve that divine elegant ONENESS amicably and yet having axiomatic faith in only ONE (one law, one god, one most economical way). Diversity is simply inefficient and boring !

      SECULARISM: the principle of separation of the state from religious institutions (Oxford). Not Nurturing Of All Religions.

      Not nurturing of all religions because secularism is a Sharp Tool (not a smooth one) used to constitute a New Constituion. Not to contain multiple constitutions, old and new (i.e religions and current more scientific one). Anything new must seclude old. Otherwise transition will never occur—old resists new. That’s why the societies who are really secular had to go through the tough transition and vigorous resistance.

      What do you think those countries didn’t try to smoothly adopt the new constitution from the old constitution, or have both coexist simultaneously, which is completely absurd– how can we have two constitutions at the same time? (one must be downgraded to ‘Religion’). This downgradation is called secularism. Now taking secularism as a sharp transitionary tool from old to new, from religious to scientific we can understand better.

      Now If I am being followed, then establisment of a new constituion embodies the establisment of a new way of understanding of the world. Our current one is based on what we call natural science, and our previous one was based on some type of godman. Secularism is nothing but the acknowledgment that we have moved on. At least it is what is implied. Our constituion is expected to make us more eglatarian and more scientific, not devious and injust like the previous one (which we call religion now). The faster we forget the older the better we adopt the newer.

      The phrase “Oppurtunistic Leaders” sums it up all about Indian Secularism. One question though: was the ‘oppurtunity’ created or was it already there, waiting to be ulilized. Through my glass, there was nothing like Secularism (transition from or denouncement of old and establishment of new) in India (outside the paper). Separation (secularism) is a feature of scientific and industrial society, a society which has been almost succesful in transitioning to the new (and successful in denouncing the old god based constitution). Because the concept of transition (secularism) was borrowed to, not emerged in India itself. We are still transitioning.

      What you are suggesting is something related with tolerant or less bigoted nation. Coexistence of variety of opinions (or religions, which have subverted to nothing more than personal opinion or affair by our new constitution). This subversion of old by the new is “Secularism”, not the coexistence. Because that will be absurd.

      Forgive me for the pedantic tone.

      • Mr Munna Bhai: Thanks for the response and the polite tone in your comment.

        Alas I beg to differ with you on many points here.

        You cite the Oxford dictionary definition of secularism reducing a complex term to the simplistic “separation of state from religious institutions”. For a quick dictionary look up, that might suffice. However the concept has many meanings in many different countries and one sees many implementations of secularism. History, the makeup of a country, colonial influences, Constitutions etc. etc. make secularism far more complex.

        What your stab at this topic does not touch upon is the key notion of “democracy” – a term that does not figure in your response. Secularism emerges from democracy as most democracies guarantee the following to citizens:

        EQUALITY: The State treats all citizens as equals regardless of their religion – or lack thereof. In France, where secularism is unique and has inspired other nations, this is called “égalité”

        LIBERTY: The right to practise any religion or no religion without State interference or coercion. This is what is called as “liberté” in France

        In addition, France also has strict separation of Church and State in that the Church cannot influence State policy, a concept called as “Séparation”. Likewise, the State also espouses neutrality i.e. in the conduct of public affairs, the state will not display any religious affiliation. This is called “neutralité”. This means for instance that whilst you can wear a Sikh turban in the streets, you cannot do so if you are judge or teacher.

        The French style of secularism is called “Laïcité” and is explained in the video “La Laïcité en 3 minutes” at Ref: bit.ly/2DJ1ts5

        But contrast this with the operation of secularism in Norway, Sweden, UK, Netherlands etc. Here, there is no separation of Church and State with historical reasons playing a role. The State collects taxes from citizens and some go to the Church. This is due to the fact that in the past, the Church was a de facto mayo’s office which held records about deaths, birth, marriages, ran schools, performed funerals, maintained cemeteries etc. That function still gets performed by the Church.

        But does that not compromise secularism you might ask? The answer is no and that is where democracy comes in. In all the countries I mentioned above, the state financially supports mosques, gurudwaras, temples and even other church denominations. Funding depends on the number of people in a congregation. Thus, all citizens are treated equally and have the liberty to practise whatever they want – although the strict French style séparation or neutralité is not pursued.

        You go on to say that secularism is alien to India and has been borrowed from elsewhere. Hence, it will take time to transition to the more rational aspects of the term. In other words, secularism in India is work in progress. I will then ask you a question:

        If India is a democracy and all Indians have a) the liberty to practise any religion and b) the right to equality in the eye of the law, then, should Dalits be denied entry to temples ? After all, you do argue that India is transitioning and not there yet right? Should sati not be severely combated ? Should triple talaq be allowed? Should child marriage be allowed?

        I am sure, you would say NO. But shouldn’t you do so as quickly as possible? If you don’t and retain these vestiges of the past, you are not democratic. Secularism, flows from democracy, albeit with its India specific modifications as one would put it in these Rafale times !

        Anyway, thanks for getting me to think a bit.

  6. Secularism died because people, I am tempted to include the author as well after this piece, who claimed to believe in it, didn’t practice it when the going was good and chickened out when the going got tough. As simple as that, you practice what you preach. No need for such long-winded, esoteric article to Justify the demise of secularism.

    As far as author’s question “Why has the entire spectrum of Hindu public opinion turned against secularism?” The answer is again simple and once again deduced from the above logic, that is “When the choice is between original and imitation, logical choice would be original, so the true “MAJORITARIANISM”.

  7. Yadav’s excellent questions – “entire spectrum of Hindu public opinion turned against secularism?”

    Glad that Yadav agrees there should be no denial anymore that the overwhelming majority of Hindus today do not countenance minority appeasement in the name of a fake secularism.

    Yadav also says –
    “And we failed to connect to the commonsense of the ordinary Hindus, because we did not speak their language, literally and metaphorically. The social distance, cultural illiteracy and intellectual arrogance of the deracinated secular elite contributed a good deal to de-legitimisation of secularism. There is no avoiding this harsh conclusion” Copy that.

    Yadav hits the nail on the head –
    “Yet, today, we cannot afford to dodge the inconvenient question: was it not kosher in intellectual circles to mock at Hinduism more than any other religions? Is it not fashionable even today to reduce Hinduism to the worst feature of Indian society, namely the caste system? Doesn’t the secular response to Hinduism resemble the colonial response?”

    We could begin by looking for a word for ‘secularism’. Amen

  8. I have a simple question for Mr.Yadav. I would like him to define Secularism as it should be according to him.Words like dharm nishpekhshata , panth nirpekhshata are confusing. If by secularism he means that State and religion are totally in silos and one does not interfere in the other ,that could be a start.In real life it would mean that no reservations of any kind be it seats in legislature, , allotment of special funds ,jobs must necessarily follow.canvassing for votes in the name of religion must stop. Since democracy is a numbers game ,attempts at conversions , physical evictions to change demography must also stopUniform civil code, uniform educational systems must also be followed.
    Reservations in the name of castes must also end and positive discrimination only on econmic grounds must be ensured.
    Unifying ones co religionists world wide must also stop.
    These steps ,if they mean secularism, then we have no quarrels. society will fight its political battles on economic ideologies and poicies of its respective political formations.

  9. People don’t change their partners, unless there is irreconcilable differences. Indian people dumped so called Secularism ,actually Nehruism,, because there is irreconcilable difference between they way Indians think and the way secularist think. Therefore Indians choose RSS model.

    Secularists like dumped spouse can keep wallowing in self-pity. They have no chance, unless BJP-RSS antagonize Indian people. Secularists should hope for Vajpayee type of leader to appear in BJP., so that BJP moves away from Indian people and lose election like Vajpayee did by trying to please secularists. people go for genuine, not fake. Trying to ride two horses simultaneously will sooner or later result in disaster.

  10. The Secularism failed because people, I am tempted to include the author as well, who claimed to uphold it didn’t stand by it when the chips were down, and didn’t practice it when the going was good. As simple as that, it doesn’t need such a long-winded article to arrive at the causes of failure.

    To answer his question “Why has the entire spectrum of Hindu public opinion turned against secularism?” Its
    because when people have to choose between the original and an imitation of Hindutwa, the choice is obviously for the original.

  11. It is high time that Prof Yadav gets down from his ivory tower idealism and gets acquainted with ground realities.The same4 applies to Prof Mehta. who never tires of preaching his homilies regularly in the Indian Express.India has never been a purely Secular polity through out its history.At best,it was a plural society coexisting with some degree of mutual tolerance as well as an authoritarian stick to enforce it.At the time of independance India was the remnant of a Partition based on religious lines.And the segments of the Muslim community which could not migrate to Pakistan due to geographical reasons of their residence location had to stay back in India.To make matters worse there was the large exodus of Hindus from Pakistan partly due to their being hounded out.It is in this context Nehru advocated Secularism with respect for all religions,althogh it was not incorporated in the Constitution at its commencement.Thereafter the concept of minority preferential policies went against Secularism.The failure to bring about a Uniform Civil Code made matters worse.In such a context Secularism is a utopian dream.The best that can be achieved is something like what exists in the State of Kerala where,Hindus,Muslims,Christians and the Tribals co-exist with the ;least disharmony.Even the RSS has not made any headway despite long years of existence.Religious and Caste conflicts exist in Kerala,but these are generally peaceful and well manageable.But we have to live with Majoritarianism,unless the minorities integrate with the majority in non-religious aspects.

  12. This is the same author who in 2014 while fighting electron reminded every one that his nick name is salim to get Muslim votes no preaching of different kind of freedom struggle out of recognition unable to digest

  13. I am fully in agreement with Yogendraji. First, we have to find the centrist space in culture, and that must begin with defining what we mean by secularism, and removing it from our lexicon. If secular means not connected with religion, then by no stretch of imagination is India a secular country. We fail even on the count of a government being equidistant from all religions. From minorityism to majoritarianism, we have traversed the entire spectrum. Therefore, next, let us replace ‘secular’ with ‘multireligious’, which is what we are. A land where religion happens to be central to most people’s lives, and where we have unabashed displays of public religiosity: from azaans to temple loudspeakers to public prayer and procession. Change of ideas must begin with a change in our language: language is the only template for thought. Begin by reasserting what we have always been: accepting (not tolerating) of all models of religious thinking. Next, get the religious leaders from all communities to speak publicly in favour of being multireligious. But you need the genuine buy-in of the minorities as well, for what is the point if you are accepting of it in speech and then have conversion rallies? To stop ‘foregrounding’ religion in politics, religion should stop being a battlefield in the first place. We can begin by shouting out loud what we really are: A multireligious society where there can be as many strands of religious thought as there are people. I reiterate: replace secular with multireligious.

    • Mr Sandhya S: Interesting post with many thought-provoking points. Alas, the one word I do not see is “democracy”.

      In a democracy, all people are treated as equals by the State regardless of their religious affiliations – or lack thereof. And regardless of whether the State in question has a strict separation of Church and State as in France with its “laïcité” model or the approach seen in Norway, Sweden UK etc. where there is a symbiotic relationship between State and Church due to historical reasons. In both approaches, you see the freedom to practise your religion (liberté) and you are equal in the eyes of the law (égalité).

      Alas, what one lacks in India is this notion of equality although there is liberty. Muslims are discriminated in job and housing markets; the State i.e. the Police does not protect them during communal disturbances as the Godhra pogroms, the Nellie massacres, the Bombay riots etc. etc. will attest. In addition, the State does not protect even individual Muslims from random incidents of violence and even more serious acts of lynching. For instance, in 2017, in Rajasthan, Shambulal Regar murdered a poor Bengali worker and posted the video on social media. The BJP took out floats depicting the man as a hero. Is this democracy ?

      You complain about conversion rallies. While as a Hindu I am personally against conversions and find them repugnant, stopping or curtailing conversions necessitate a change of Article 25 of the Indian Constitution. Article 25 states:

      “Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion
      (1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion”

      Should this article be scrapped Ms Sandhya S?

      You might find a longer comment from me about secularism elsewhere here.

  14. The future of India depends on how best we can prevent non-secular religions penetrating our democracy under the guise of secularism and with the help of some of our own intellectuals, so we do not go the way UK, France, Belgium and some other European countries are being salami sliced.
    Lot of these intellectuals have been parasites who thrived on the periphery of the corrupt, self serving eco-system based on the nexus of politicians, Babus, businesses that thrived under the protection which included media also.
    The FREE-BEEs are gone so naturally their idea of INDIA has disappeared.
    By and by the taxes will have to be paid, expenses in excess of earnings will be caught for explanation, may be the agricultural income of the urban- professionals and politicians will come under scanner. It will be a painful India for some when there is premium on honesty.
    THINK THINK—–
    The days of flowery language quoting the US and UK constitution are over as the rulers do not come from the class that has read and understood those .

  15. You led me to look up Pratap’s article. I do agree with him. The problem with your article is that it requires a lot of effort to read and I suspect it is written more for Pratp and Shekar rather than the average Print reader. I am from the south of India and my real fear is that this regime is encroaching on my rights as an individual. They are compromising all the institutions one at a time . That the judiciary seems to be influenced by the ruling party is of a much greater concern to me than the secularism debate.

  16. India already has a new nationalism.
    It began when Modi was elected PM
    It became stronger wihen Rahul Gandhi’s Congress was wiped out.
    The Babri masjid has been destroyed
    A ram mandir is coming up
    A new central vista is taking shape
    JNU has been purged
    Kashmir is once again with India
    China is blocked.
    Now all that remains is for Muslims to apologise for the atrocities that their ancestors committed on Hindus in India

    • Mr Sanket Singh: You pontificate:

      “.. Now all that remains is for Muslims to apologise for the atrocities that their ancestors committed on Hindus in India ..”

      Applying your logic, of apologies, shouldn’t the following apologies also be delivered?

      1: Upper caste Hindus to apologise to Dalits for atrocities and discrimination meted out to these people for millenia?

      2: Sikhs to apologise for atrocities on Hindus during the Khalistan struggles in Punjab ?

      3: Hindus and the Congress to apologise for the pogroms unleashed upon Sikhs during 1984?

      4: Modi and the BJP for the Godhra pogroms ?

      5: Shiv Sena to apologise to South Indians, North Indians, Biharis and Muslims for the atrocities that they have heaped on these communities?

      I can continue ad nauseum but I suppose you get the drift. No political party, religious community or regional group holds the moral high ground to demand an apology from another group. We can wake up many a sleeping dog if we start going back in history to find some nasty incident performed by some community in the past to justify violence on an individual from that community in the present. That was how a very well functioning country called Yugoslavia splintered into many parts when past injustices were invoked to justify violence in the present.

      As the German philosopher Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) said:

      “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.”

        • Mr Harry: Thanks for the response.

          Care to identify one unrelated issue in my post Sir and explain why it is unrelated?

          With regard to Holocaust, the only one that I can think of is the one that took place during the Partition of India in 1947-48. Yes, there have been systematic pogroms where the state has abetted one community to murder another., examples of which are abundant in my post above.

          • In 1947 Non-Muslims formed 30% population of present day Pakistan, with majority or near majority in Karachi & Lahore. Today non-Muslims are less than 3% of population in Pakistan. Muslim population was less than 10% in ROI in 1947, today there are near 20%. So it is clear that non-Muslims were swindled by Muslims with help of assorted Hindus. I don’t whether these Hindus are/were scoundrels and stupid like monkeys.

      • Oh! Mr. Jolsiyar. You are being terribly democratic by invoking so many instances of apology-seeking- no matter how genuine these instances may be. Be realistic; be democratic- the Modi and Modi bhakts way.

  17. This is so bizzare that although in his physiology he understands the problem but Saleem saheb failed to write it. The solution is equality with zero appeasement. If Mitakshara school of women property right is bad and rightly so, thus, Shariat is worst since earlier offers full property right selectively but later offer only half. This need to acknowledged by psudo-liberal and try to reform all.

  18. Do you guys think ordinary Hindus care about secularism? No, ordinary Hindus don’t care about secularism. First, they want happy, safe lives. Second, they don’t want their religion and traditions to be mocked day-in and day-out. Third, they want equality with all religions, not supremacy. Nobody on the Left-liberal spectrum gets this. Till such time, BJP will keep winning.

    • Mr Narayanan: You write:

      “.. ordinary Hindus don’t care about secularism. First, they want happy, safe lives ..”

      And I fully agree with you.

      But that applies to almost all people in India – everyone wants to simply get along with their lives. Many are often engrossed in the search for getting the next square meal for their families and themselves and don’t engage with the polemics of secularism. Or any other ism.

      Yes only 75% of Indians are literate and very few of them are capable of reading the Constitution and grasping the nuances of such complex ideas such as secularism. Additionally, even fewer can understand Articles 25-28 of the Constitution which deal with religious freedoms and its implications for democracy, stability of the country and even economic development.

      And yes, ALL political parties have used secularism in an opportunistic way to secure support from minority religions thereby tarnishing and debasing the term. Just as the Hindutva gang led by the BJP & the RSS have tarnished and debased Hinduism for their own narrow political ends by appealing to the majority religion. Both approaches have seriously compromised peace and stability in the country, weakened democracy and unleashed violence. We now see lynchings of ordinary Muslims and BJP Ministers garland gaurakshaks whilst the PM tacitly encourages this violence. At least very very sparingly condemns it whilst following these very thugs on Twitter.

      The mocking of Hinduism you allude to is news to me. Yes, the DMK in Tamilnadu indulged in that behaviour during the early 70s. After once taking out a procession of Lord Ram and Sita with chappals as garlands, the DMK and its ally DK were in hot water. The DMK quickly ceased baiting Hinduism when they realised that they were losing votes. And yes, supposedly secular parties like the DMK, the Congress, the CPI etc. went out of their way to cultivate Muslims and Christians whilst ignoring Hindu sentiments. But I do not accept your claim that Hinduism was mocked, at least in public settings by politicians or political parties.

      You predict that as long as the left does not grasp this, the BJP might keep winning. Perhaps you are right. But the more pertinent questions are: Does India Win? Do Indians win?

      • But the more pertinent questions are: Does India Win? Do Indians win?

        Yes. Indians will win, excluding assorted secus & their backers from minorities.

        • Care to define minorities Mr Harry ? Sikhs ? People from Nort-East ? Tribals? Dalits? South Indians?

          Under this creeping fascism that Modi promoties, India will see many internecine conflicts. and Indians as a whole will lose. Remember that the country is being led by a man who was banned in mots parts of the world for his role in a pogrom.

  19. With due respects, I beg to differ. Just because BJP and Modi have won a second term, the secular thinkers feel that the nation is in crisis and desire a second freedom. Freedom from what? What should the country aim at and what is our goal? Unless you define that the discussion is empty and meaningless. The issue has to be examined by delinking it from politics. Politics is a routine affair – parties lose and win elections, leaders occupy seats of power and subsequently vacate the. Does it define the nation and does that govern the nation’s fate.? Not at all. What we require are social reforms, modernity and scientific temper. Why it is that even after seven decades of acquiring independence, the nation is not able to live to its potential. How will it face the challenges of the future amidst rapidly changing techno-scientific milieu? How can our nation compete with the the bests in the world? These are the real issues. Secularism versus Hinduism is a dead horse. The country is sick of it. I would urge the secular thinkers to come out of their twentieth century mindset and think of challenges of the twenty first century. Then only they can identify the real issues confronting India and then endeavour to find answers to these issues.

  20. Sir basically you people failed in giving good leaders and supported leders like mulayam and lalu.
    You failed to provide education and medical facilities when you were ruling. So called secular politicians were corrupt and inefficient.
    Hinduism is just a cover basically BJP is winning due to your inept behaviour.

    • Mr Pranjal: Don’t Mulayam & Lalu not have their equivalents in the BJP such as: Godse worshipper Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, rabble rouser Adityanath, garlander of gaurakshaks Union Minister Jayanth Sinha, Arab women’s orgasm obsessed cretin Tejaswi Surya and many many thugs and nutcases?

      You go on to say that secular politicians were corrupt. But can you show any politician who is not corrupt or does not become an enabler of the crony capitalists who finance him? After all, Modi too depends on the Ambanis and Adanis doesn’t he ?

      And then who destroyed the economy through demonetisation ?

      • Your barking looks like noise to most people. People like you have failed to notice the qualities of Modi that makes him the supper leader of Indians. Your hatred filled head has incapacitated you to understand what you see and feel.

        • ak.dev: You bray:

          “.. People like you have failed to notice the qualities of Modi that makes him the supper leader of Indians ..”

          You think the families of Mohammad Akhlaq, Alimuddin Ansari, Junaid Khan, Pehlu Khan, Afrazul and many other Muslims lynched by your gaurakshak friends will agree with your fawning assessment of Modi ?

  21. If tomorrow large majority of the country becomes ‘secular’ would that majoritarianism be acceptable? or is there an issue here with the majoritarianism of today not suiting a particular ideology? These elites argue that in a democracy the sentiments of minorities should be held above that of majority. Fair enough. Would they prioritize the sentiments of conservatives when they are in minority tomorrow?

  22. It is nice to see some soul searching has started. Author has to go several more steps. (pseudo) secularist have to get rid of the hate in their hart against PM Modi, BJP, RSS and Hindus. They can criticize wrong actions but acknowledge the good achievements. An example would be corruption in central government. Second is start being honest. One example is the Ram temple. By now there is enough archeological evidence that the Baburi mosque was built of a temple site, Lutyens media gang has completely neglected this fact. Another example is Shahin Bag protests. When slogan like Jinnah wali azadi were given no left wing media spoke against that. The plight of Kashmiri Pandits did not move the hart of any liberal in the media. A true secularism would not permit government giving salaries to Muslim priests as in Delhi and Bengal, I have not seen any secularist ranting against that.

  23. This Hindu Rashtra project by the BJP & its fascist fathers in the RSS has now become the only visible bullet train that Modi can afford, given the abysmal state of the economy even before the COVID crisis struck !

    Sticking to the railway metaphor, every political party that indulged in opportunistic secularism for gaining votes has unwittingly laid the track for the Modi train. But the train itself seems to be carrying a lot of overzealous, saffron passengers baying for blood. As things stand, it appears that this train is hurtling on at breakneck speed but the brakes don’t appear to work and the track is not fully finished – a derailment is imminent.

    The Hindu Rashtra project fails to take into account one massive design flaw in India. India was never a united country. It was “united” only when the British decided to group the many kingdoms that they had either captured or entered into alliances with under a single administrative entity under the Crown. And as things stand today, India consists of many parts or regions that are being “held together” as opposed to having “willingly come together”. This evidenced by the fact that the Indian Army is needed to keep restive states in the Union. Kashmir, North East and even Punjab during the Khalistan struggles of the 80s and 90s have been held together. In other words, nation building in India is far from over and there are many fissiparous forces at work. Aided and abetted also by Pakistan & China for sure.
    It is under these dire political and economic circumstances that the Modi government and the RSS are pushing their Hindutva and Hindu Rashtra ideologies down the throats of people. One also needs to bear in mind that the BJP won only 37% of votes polled and significant chunks of the country e.g. the South, North-East, Bengal etc. are not exactly shouting hurrah. A fact that many of the jingoists who are cheerleaders of Modi and his Hindutva seem to forget. After all, did Islam unite Pakistan?

    The French historian Ernest Renan (1823-1892) defined the concept of a nation as

    “.. the desire of a people to live together .. ”

    which he summarized by a famous phrase: “having done great things together and wishing to do more”
    (avoir fait de grandes choses ensemble, vouloir en faire encore)

    Let us hope that the BJP and Modi do not dilute the desire of Indians to live together by creating different classes of them based on religion in the Golwakarian scheme of things.

  24. Its laughable to see the amount of stupidity in this article.
    1. No one takes “Language Professor”, “writers”, “Poets” etc etc etc seriously. A single bollywood actress has more pull than ALL of these intellectual put together. Middle class aspires more to be a Doctor or a Engineer or a MBA. Writer poet are too low in anyone’s a-list. So please stop taking yourself so seriously.

    2. Secularism was an ideal shoved down the throat of Hindu collectives by England educated Nehru, Gandhi and Menon. It made no sense to Indians during partition and it makes even less sense now. It was never understood by masses much less accepted.

    3. Dichotomy of “Secular” and “Hindu Nationalism” is stupidly wrong and woefully inadequate to model the reality of India. What is there is actually a distrust for Muslims and to a lesser extent Christians. Both of these have valid grounds in history of the subcontinent. Both Islam and christianity have a tendency to convert others and both believe that ONLY they have the right answer. Hence, clash is natural. Compare this with Buddhism, Judaism, Sikhism or Zaratorianism. They can live in relative peace with Hinduism. None of them try to push themselves on Hindu masses NOR have a history of doing so. Hence, Hindu-Rashtra is essentially a push back to Islam and Christianity. Sikhism, Buddhism, Judaism, Zaratorianism are all going to gel well with Hindu majority. They have been like this since forever.

    • Mr Ajay: You pontificate:

      “.. clash is natural. Compare this with Buddhism, Judaism, Sikhism or Zaratorianism. They can live in relative peace with Hinduism. None of them try to push themselves on Hindu masses ..”

      Really ?

      Fact is, Sikhs, who do not proselytise nonetheless waged a violent war for more than 2 decades to get out of the Indian Union. Already forgotten the Khalistan struggles Mr Ajay?

      Likewise, in the early 60s, Tamilnadu, fed up with North Indian hegemony, Hindi imposition, centralisation of powers in Delhi etc. wanted to leave the Indian Union using Constitutional measures. The Chinese attack in 1962 led to CN Annadurai dropping the demands.

      Similarly, the huge chunk of India loosely referred to as “North East” too has been fighting guerilla battles against the Indian state. For the many tribes there, Delhi is a distant colonising power. Additionally, when people from the North-East travel to the rest of India to work, they face immense discrimination.

      The deep flaw in your argument is that you believe that minorities in India are religious minorities. Fact is, there are linguistic, ethnic, religious, caste and regional minorities and there are conflict lines serious conflict lines among these groupings too.

      You say that:

      “.. Hindu-Rashtra is essentially a push back to Islam and Christianity ..”

      Well, whose Hindu Rashtra are you talking about Mr Ajay? My Hinduism from South India has very little with your Hinduism from the North. Our centres of pilgrimage are usually to temples in Kerala and Tamilnadu rather than Mathura or Ayodhya etc. And then, how do you define who a Hindu is? Pakistan has been trying to define who a Muslim is and has been unsuccessful over the last 7 decades!

      No Mr Ajay. Clashes are not natural, clashes are almost always instigated by politicians who have run out agendas. Nobody in India, particularly in the South, cared about the Ram temple in Ayodhya and few South Indians cared to follow that joker Advani’s violent “Rath Yatra”. As Dr Yadav writes, all this Hindu victimhood is a manufactured crisis. Sadly, even educated people like you are easily hoodwinked and duped by semi-literate politicians. Especially when they appeal to your religious prejudices.

      As Niccolo Machiavelli said:

      “One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived”.

      • There can be no glossing over the aggressive nature of Islam and proselytizing Christianity in India.

        The Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu are paper tigers whose anti-Hindu rhetoric is dated. They only whine and plead for religious pluralism.

        As a South Indian, we are taught the sacred bhakti hymns of the Vaishnava and shaiva saints who extolled and glorified the places of pilgrimage in Northern India such as Kashi and Vrindavan as well.

        The other minorities of Jainism, Zoarastianism etc., have always peacefully coexisted with Hinduism.

        The problem is with the aggressive two.

        • Mr Ramana Rao D.V: Thanks for your response.

          Yes, I agree with you that Islam and Christianity indulge in proselytising – something that Hindus, Sikhs, Jains etc. do not indulge in. I will even add that a large chunk of this proselytising activity entails enticements of various sorts. And as Hindu taught to never tell somebody else that my religion is superior, I personally think that the proselytisation indulged in by these Abrahamic religions is a repugnant practice.

          That said, shouldn’t we as Hindus be asking ourselves: If we deny access to temples for Dalits, if we attack them for something as trivial as sporting a moustache or riding a horse should we be surprised that they leave Hinduism ? Didn’t the Brahmin kings of Travancore not impose a “breast tax” on Dalit and lower caste women who wanted to cover their breasts ? That law alone made a large number of lower castes to move to Christianity. Incidentally, that law was in force until 1924.

          Likewise, in the Battle of Bhima Koregaon in 1818 between the East India Company & the Peshwas, the untouchable Mahar caste fought on the side of the Company as the Peshwas were extremely oppressive towards them. To this day, that site is a flashpoint between the BJP and Dalits.

          No, not for a moment am I suggesting that the oppression of caste vanishes when lower caste Hindus move to Islam or Christianity. In fact, it worsens as the caste system is practised with even greater vehemence in these religions than in Hinduism. An al-Jazeera documentary on the sad plight of Dalit converts to Islam is available here: bit.ly/3gkkApY

          A BBC article about caste discrimination in Christianity “Indian Dalits find no refuge from caste in Christianity” is available here:bbc.in/3j0htW6. Indeed, even graveyards are segregated on the basis of caste !

          My point is that if we wish conversions to stop, we would need to put our own house in order. And the unabashedly upper caste centric RSS and the BJP are incapable of doing that. A fact worsened by their Hindi and North India centric worldview of the RSS & the BJP. The perpetuation of caste based discrimination of the worst sort by the Hindu right wing will cause more conversions and exodus from Hinduism – a “push” if you will. And that “push” may be stronger than the “pull” exerted by the mullahs and the evangelists.

          Ands then getting back to the nitty gritty of it all. Clause (1) of Article 25 of the Indian Constitution states:

          “Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion”

          Mr Ramana Rao: are you suggesting that India should amend its Constitution and get rid of Article 25 pertaining to religious freedoms ?

  25. Bhai kahana kya chate hou. Now how come cosmopolitanism is also against secularism…you sure have good weeds in your sarkari garden. Have you read story of boy who called wolf.

  26. 1- stop giving discount while criticising islam
    2-accept that political Islam and demography jihad with objective to ISLAMIZE india is a threat that many Hindus fear
    3- 55 yrs of pseudo secularism will take atleast if not 55 atleast 15 yrs of BRUTAL TRUE DHARM NIRPEKSHA
    Basics

  27. Fundamental questions:
    1.Have the secular liberals any idea or will to fight Muslim fanaticism ?
    2. Do they really believe mMuslims can be secular and liberal in a democracy?
    3. There is a worldwide collaboration of left liberals and the Muslim jihadis….why is it so?
    4. Muslims are making multiple mini Pakistan in India and the secular liberals completely ignore the fact. Hindus are forced to leave the area even India in Muslim dominated areas. Why is it so ?

  28. Dear Sir, unless you believe, unless you trust in our ancient civilization, unless you are emotionally attached with our motherland, your words will sound hollow, your arguments shallow and your effect on us negligible

    • Mr Sudeep: Whose ancient civilization should the people of Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura etc. trust ? And then whose civilization should Sikhs trust? Christians ? The tribe that lives in North Sentinel Islands ?

      Care to enlighten Mr Sudeep?

  29. Whatever passed off as secularism, before 2014, was a convenient tool for garnering votes, particularly of minorities.

    As has been proved many times, hindus are born secular and tolerant people and now, real secularism will be observed.

    SP and RJD, openly practicing communalism by forging MY alliance and calling themselves seculars is the ultimate irony and PBS, Yogendra yada and Mani Shankar, keeping smiling that encouraging smile to these parties was the real face of these people.

    Simply, rule of the law is good enough but in our case, all the bogus laws, created for that wicked kind of secularism, have to be thrown out from law books. Uniform Civil laws, no preferential treatment on the basis of religion is SECULARISM.

    • Mr Pankaj: You bray:

      “.. Whatever passed off as secularism, before 2014, was a convenient tool for garnering votes, particularly of minorities ..”

      So what do we have now? Gujarati secularism ? Hindu Rashtra ?

      Additionally, care to identify the “bogus laws, created for that wicked kind of secularism”?

      You go on to talk of Uniform Civil Code. But the GOI has been unable – I reiterate unable – to create a UCC that will appeal to Indians given the nation’s diversity and complexity. And that complexity does not come from religion but regional customs and codes that cannot be subsumed under a UCC.

      Additionally, the BJP itself does not believe in UCC – after all Dilawar Khan and Ayesha Begum, better known as Dharmendra and Hema Malini are BJP MPs aren’t they ?

      Care to clarify Mr Pankaj?

  30. Stopp woolly-headed hair-splitting a la the Marxists and start working on the ground. Writing long-winded gibberish is no substitute for dedicated grass root level work. Look at the Sangh cadres. Learn from them how to keep your head down and systematically work from the bottom rugs to the top. If you are investing your time to answer people like Manu Mehta, you already lost the war.

  31. The first time i came to realize the naked truth of secularism as practiced in India is when i was helping my dad in filling the forms to collect 15Rs per month per child as school fees.\
    My dad used to work for a PSU and as a part of his salary he used to get 15 Rs/month for each child who is in school. While the cap of 2 children for Hindus was placed in tune with the government policy of “we two, ours two/ hum do hamare do” policy but for muslims the cap was for 4 children.
    I was about 10-11 years at that time and i asked my dad why is it that the form limits to only 2 kids for Hindus and 4 kids for muslims, he said it is because muslims are nehru’s son-in-laws.

  32. The Author and his band of Leftist brothers still feel they have a right to define secularism . They feel they have a right to judge Hindus. How naive. How about asking the common Hindu for a start. Neither abrogation of article 370, nor the Ram Mandir was done directly by BJP or RSS. We the people of India have done that through our elected representatives in Parliament. It’s called democracy. Now we will enact Uniform Civil Code . That will be the foundation of a secular state. Everyone equal in eyes of the law.

  33. The secularism of under educated jhollawallas is as follows

    1) The riots in DELHI AND BANGALORE based on rumours were by ” secular victims

    2) Secularism according to “rent a journalist ” and under educated jhollawallas is under attack when they don’t get to become power brokers and get high positions in government.

    3) Secularism is actually supporting anti CAA protestors when HINDUS AND SIKHS are near a final solution in pakistan Afghanistan.

    4) Secularism is under threat when HINDUS reject fake divisive forces and proselytizers aren’t able to provide congrass electoral victory.

  34. Simple. In your great arrogance, do not keep lampooning every one and everything connected with Hinduism. If you must reform, you need to have empathy. Not the attitude of an intellectual with wisdom so great that it eclipses the collective wisdom of the whole society. I ask: How many of you have interacted with the great classical Pundits who are so proficient in Logic or Grammar? How many of you realise that the so called ritualistic school, the Purva Mimamsa, was the most rational school? All that you did was to read our own technical works, leave alone the scriptures, through the interpretation of the western scholar. Deep down, you were more beholden to a J F Staal rather than a scholar in Benaras or Dharbhanga or Mysuru who was steeped in traditional thought.
    You have utter contempt for your own kin because you are yourself incapable, or unwilling, to take up a critical study of our traditions and schools of thought. Your contempt is a convenient camouflage of your own illiberalism. “liberal” has long since ceased to be an adjective. It is a proper noun, just designating a class of people who call themselves so. The class has populated all institutions with people of the same ilk, and claims “unanimity” of intellectual opinion. And what is more, it is an intolerant class: horrified at any thought that is remotely in disagreement with its beliefs, Words like superstition, obscurantism, etc, are immediately bandied. In short, it is a class which thinks that India, bereft of it, is an uncivilised uncultured society. Not very different from what the colonial masters believed.

    The backlash was inevitable. In this particular form? That could be debated, and if it offers some solace, it could even be mourned. But your contribution to the present state of affairs is immense. In fact, it is central. Ashoke University had to get a Professor from abroad for its convocation to tell us of Indian values.

    • Mr Urvashi: You rail against a lot of things that have nothing to do with this article per se. Dr Yogendra Yadav merely does a stocktaking of the state of secularism in India, tries to understand how we got where we are and suggests some ways out. I largely agree with the first two tasks he has set himself whilst I am not so convinced about his “prescriptions”. But in any case, my disagreements with him can be argued whilst respecting the man I disagree with. A basic courtesy you clearly seem to be incapable of extending to the author.

      But let me deal with other aspects of your diatribe.

      The problem with your rant is that it does not relate to the topic that Dr Yadav raises, viz.the path to extinction of secularism that India is taking. The discussion has little to do with Puranas, traditional thought, Ashoka University, Purva Mimsa, Johan Frederik Staal etc.. Or for that matter Swami Nithyananda, the new swami-cum-macroeconomist and possible Governor of the Reserve Bank of Kailasha !

      The disjointed, rambling sentences in your comment have little to do with the complex notions of citizenship in a democracy, state handling of religion, state positioning for arbitration between adherents of various religions, their impact on democracy and so on that are being scrutinised in the article. All that you end up doing in your overzealous attempt to project India as some sort of a Vishwaguru is making yourself a laughingstock.

      You accuse Dr Yadav of having:

      “.. utter contempt for your own kin because you are yourself incapable, or unwilling, to take up a critical study of our traditions and schools of thought ..”

      Perhaps you might wish to inform us as to how many members of your own family take up the “critical study of our traditions” as opposed to getting an english medium education, an engineering degree and waving sayonara to India in their quest for a Green Card.

      I find more contempt, arrogance and ignorance to boot in your jingoistic comment than in Mr Yogendra Yadav’s comment where he, as a scholar has the humility to accept a large chunk of the blame for the dismal state of affairs in India with respect to secularism.

      • The word “You” was a collective term. And you are certainly very liberal with epithets. Be his advocate if you wish, but I am not his adversary. I was criticising that class. I have nothing against Mr Yadav.

        So do not make it personal. Since personal emotions run so strong even here, I withdraw. I see the futility of commenting on anything at all.

        • Ms Urvashi: Thanks for the response.

          I was aware of the fact that you were criticising the class rather than the individual Mr Yadav. But that also means that you are in deep contempt of a not so small – albeit dwindling – number of people who hold roughly the same views as Mr Yadav – including yours truly.

          But the details of your comment and my retort apart, I still feel that you should continue to comment. The debate would be richer if more people were to comment and more views see the light of the world. And if that takes an apology from me well, I am sorry I was harsh. I am not very good in English you see…

          Hope to see more comments from you in the weeks to come.

  35. “Islam khatare mai hai”, this was narrative created by so called liberals and secularists in india. Now same people are crying over secularism. Whenever common muslim wanted a amicable solution on Ram mandir, these people prevented it. Now lament of sh. Yogendra Yadav ji is much stronger because they have lost the narrative on which they thrived. RIP.

  36. There is still a missing piece of this analysis: The rest of the world! From the overtly ‘majoritarian’ Middle East to the birth-place of western secularism, what is the true state of religion & the state? Are states that have Christianity as the official religion (like England) majoritarian? How about those like the US that implicitly assume the centrality of Christianity – where Presidential candidates speak from the pulpits without being castigated & evoke Christian language in their speeches regularly. Unless our commentators profess a point of view of these affairs from the same standpoint, they will not be taken seriously.
    And the most important point of all, secularism is not just about keeping religion out of Govt; it is also keeping Govt out of religion. The Indian Govt taxes & controls Hinduism selectively. Unless this is rectified, victimization of Hinduism is very real – not at all imagined.

    • Very true. For Muslims have the best deal when compared with minorities in other parts and backwardness is not state imposed. Even that could be worked with. In fact Indian muslims are now potentially only secularist muslims possible if they try and relief for world over.

  37. I feel bad for author now. They still believe that we have lost our way and need to be bought back. We truly believe that we have found our way and the author types need to join us or go where they are welcome

  38. Yogendra Yadav his likes would never understand why Indian people don’t trust them. Let them pass time by accusing and abusing people and their intelligence. The time is not far when India would be clean of these frauds and crooks.

  39. “People Like Us failed. We failed because we failed to connect.”. Bullshit !
    Stop overestimating yourself and daydreaming!! Accept the fact that it is not always only “I”, “Us”, “We”. There are “Others” too.. Everyone.

    You failed because YOU WERE WRONG.
    Simple, plain and the only truth.

  40. The Bhumi Puja in Ayodhya has given rise to several disguised unemployed busy bodies to show off their commentating skills. They are keep up with their self indulgent mutual back scratching. It does not make any difference to the ordinary, hard working, honest and meritorious people.

  41. Okay. So the point is – like the RSS guys you are going to enter into a dialogue with all Indians – good. May I know
    1. what the dialogue is going to be
    2. Where will you find people to support you?
    3. When conflict arises between majority and minority what will you say which will pacify both?
    4. When the govt repeals article 30 and if SC does nothing about it what is going to be your response?
    I am afraid there are no easy answers to all this because when people did not listen to the Mahatma himself why should they listen to you. Jinnah is fully vindicated today when he proclaimed that Hindus and Muslims cannot stay together. The Congress under Gandhi by and large did not accept it bar some like Patel, Tandon, Rajaji etc who read the writing on the wall. It has taken 70 odd years for the rest of India to catch up perhaps it will take few more years for YY and others to do so. All the prescription in such articles is not worth even tuppence. They do not work in the real world when passions are easily aroused.

    The real problem is we got freedom by struggle but we did not acquire democracy by struggle. No one died for democracy, no one went to jail for individual rights, no one suffered the pains of living in Hindu Pakistan. Till the public consciousness rises and individual rights are respected with courts willing to protect such individual rights, we must suffer the consequences. A cursory reading of history tells us that individual rights are hard won by each nation and civilisation and society by the means of gradual or sudden change when large number of its members want such a change. We have to wait for that change to happen. That change is inevitable – a large and diverse society has no other way of evolving. We cannot expect all Indians to be one version – did not happen with Ashoka, nor with Mughals or British or Congress type secularists and so it won’t happen with the RSS as well. My only worry is what shape will India emerge in when that day comes.

    I also have a suggestion for the author and others like him – this process will happen quicker if minorities respect individual rights themselves within their own community instead of respecting only community rights. That will force the majority to respect such rights and try to emulate them as well. If there is any way of making that happen fast, we should strive for it. Otherwise today it is Modi vs Rahul, tomorrow when it will be Yogi vs Owaisi – the idea of a liberal India will suffer a worse battering.

  42. A nation finally chooses what Majority feels right, Majority feel right with things they are comfortable and they need be the right things all the time. A great read, I could educate myself little bit on this topic. I am from India and moved to USA for good, the way I know India soul and soil is – even after all these politics, even if there is no word in constitution – deep down in our heart we are secular, again majority of us are secular. Not that we are born like that, we grow up like that – but that notion should be coming from all religions of that soil. Once they see it – Politics won’t matter much.

    • Mr Kiran Maddu: It is a simplistic understanding of democracy you have when you proclaim:

      “.. A nation finally chooses what Majority feels right ..”

      Democracy is not tyranny of the majority. Even in Switzerland where referendums are frequently held on proposals that the citizens put forth, there are restrictions and hindrances to prevent democracy from sliding into a majoritarian dictatorship.

      For instance, a referendum to make a Constitutional Amendment would need a double majority:
      1: more than 50% of the people should have voted for it
      2: more than 50% of the cantons (roughly districts) should have voted for it

      This arrangement ensures that the larger and more populous cantons do not overwhelm the smaller ones.

      You find similar arrangements in most mature democracies – the will of the majority is tamed by institutions such as the Parliament, a Constitution and often by electoral checks and balances such as in Switzerland. Examples would be mechanisms such as stipulating qualified majorities, supermajorities, double majorities etc. etc.)

      Hence, a nation may choose what a majority feels right, but the word “majority” itself is highly modified in democracies to thwart a simple majority from becoming dictatorial.

  43. And .. Pakistani intellectual is telling the Pakistani people that their ancestors were Hindus…. ( Dawn … Brothers at war Dt 15.8.2020)

  44. I could not help but comment –

    Mr Yadav needs to look into the mirror to see what is ‘ailing’. The definition of secularism as it stands today seems to be hippocracy. The day this hippocracy ends even the so called Right ideas will be be perceived as Centric.

    However Mr Yadav’s actions during the Delhi mayhem makes me doubt whether it can ever happen. He needs to understand majority of India today are inherently tolerant howver long gone are the days when you could only bully the tolerant side in the garb of secularism.

  45. And .. Pakistani intellectual is telling Pakistani people that most of them are Hindus who were converted many years ago ( see Dawn newspaper).

  46. Interesting article. Right now it is difficult to say who is right. Only time will tell. However, the very fact that a debate is on is heartening.

    Secular forces must not be discouraged by the scale of the defeat we have suffered, which is, admittedly, epic. There have been many situations in human history where things have looked far bleaker. Let us fight the good fight till the end and “not go gentle into that good night.”

    • Outstanding comment Mr Ganesh S !

      For a country as heterogeneous as India, tinkering with secularism will result in a widening of the many fissures and falult-lines that coarse through it. And since the Islamists of Pakistan now are the de facto mentors of the Hindutvaists of India, it might be worthwhile to see how a theocratic state fared in Pakistan. Turns out that no 2 mullahs were able to define who is or is not a Muslim. And mind you Islam is a relatively simpler religion with one book, 2 main strands of theological differences and little variation apart from that. Would be interesting to see how the state defines who a Hindu is and what rights “honorary Hindus” like Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists etc. get. And do not get too.

      Well, it was clearly demonstrated in 1971 when E.Pakistan left Jinnah’s much ballyhooed homeland for India’s Muslims and became Bangladesh that Islam was hardly a glue for nation building. That is bound to happen here in India as well. Making India a Hindu Rashtra will re-ignite the Khalistan conflict, embolden the terrorists in Kashmir and separatists in other regions such as the North East. But then all that does not matter to the 56 inch chested Gujarati Messiah and his cheerleaders does it ?

  47. We have got it wrong all along. India is not looking for secularism. When the Indian constitution (rightly or wrongly, is another matter) and some Government policies distinguish its citizens by caste and religion, how can India ever be a secular Nation. We can’t expect politicians to define secularism (religion) and maintain harmony in the plurality of religions in India and absolve religious leaders and the public at large in the process. This tolerant pluralism is multilateral and unilateral.

    In religious matters it should simply mean that every religion should be free to pray to its God in a manner each wants – that is assuming that every religion has a God and every one professing that religion wants to pray. In effect, (religious) secularism should simply mean that each religion accepts each of the other religion on as is where is basis.

    The leaders of these various religions should repeatedly announce to its followers that “there is not only one way (their own) to reach GOD but there are many ways. What the other religions follow are also paths that lead to GOD. Those who practice religions other than ours are also believers of God”. Tell the followers that there is only one God with many names…call it/he/she by any name. Teach the kids this in Schools of all types. All politicians, self-styled “activists” of all types and THE MEDIA should convey this message always and all times. Why is this NOT done? Why are these people especially the activists and the media not seeing it this way?

    I am afraid we are doing this all wrong – brilliance too.

  48. I like this soul searching being done by Left leaning intellegentia. I was expecting this in 2014 itself but better late than never. I find it incredibly funny when the proponents of India’s perverted secularism use individual rights as the garb to justify naked minority-ism. Are you kidding me? Where were all this “individual rights” bregade when your beloved congress overturned SC shah bano judgement, why do you all support INC and your Nehru when he bent backwards and ensured muslims didn’t see muslim version of Hindu code bill? The funny part is all of you talking about individual rights don’t give 2 hoots. You are all batting for the worst of orthodox islamists. If your commitment for individual rights and secularism is true, you’d bat for a UCC that ensures gender justice. Call out idiots for saying burkha is women empowerment while ghoonghat and sindoor are patriarchal. You’d all seriously introspect why intellectuals spent their entire studies and careers giving legitimacy to this perverted secularism and gave it a new name “indian secularism”. Ha. It’s just like the word “mixed economy” which actually was a confused economy.

    I reiterate my point. Many modi supporters understand the value of secularism. It’s just that we are tired of the useless minority-ism the Left loonies resorted to. And one more thing, if you really want the common indian irrespective of religion to understand the value of secularism, tell them that keeping religion out of state can help making better policies in health and education instead of state doing havans and tying tabeez or faith healing.

  49. Such opinions which are based on opinions should be trashed. Firstly, the author does disservice to the audience to pick suitable opinions to agree and disagree.
    I firmly hold the view “India is and will remain secular because it is hindu majority” and secondly “there will be no secularism at the cost of Hindus” e.g. Kashimiri Pandits, Ram Temple

  50. As always, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this latest piece by Yogendra Yadav; for, it has lifted the clouds of gloom brought upon the nation by the Covid-19 pandemic. Yadav has a special talent for launching himself into long and strenuous arguments with himself, and on occasion – as in this case – losing the argument after a valiant struggle. May the Muse be with him!

  51. Very convenient to divert the public gaze to such semantic debates. Not to question why the national response to Covid is crumbling. Or all the other issues that matter to ordinary Indians, who have not faced so much hardship in living memory. What could be more helpful than for the channels to spend the whole day covering SSR’s suicide.

  52. The write-up clearly indicates that the author still doesn’t get it. Although the arguments appear new, they are still cloaked in the same prejudices of majoritarionism, manufactured victimology and the obsession with a very non-Indian construct viz secularism. Aap se na ho payega dear author. You are best suited to television studios, academic mediocrity and echo chambers.

    • Sure and you know better? What an idi-ot you are. The country we grew up in is being shred into tatters and all that matters to you people is that ‘one’ political party with its manufactured agenda of ‘Hindu khatre mein hai’.

      Grow up.

          • You can look at India the way you want. You don’t have this freedom in a fascist state. People would look upon you the way they want. You can keep weeping, crying, abusing and accusing if you can’t agree with the majority. It’s up to you how you want to live.

        • ak.dev: India is changing for sure, like every other nation on the earth.

          But the trillion rupee questions are: Who is driving the change? Who benefits from the change? Who gets to suffer from the change?

          And perhaps the most important question of all: Will the unity, stability, economic prospects and international stature of India change for the better when democracy is turned into a tyranny of the majority?

          I will answer the last question: NO.

          Fascism has seldom produced stable, safe and prosperous democracies. India will not survive this dangerous experiment by the RSS and the BJP to dismantle one of the fundamental pillars of democracy viz. secularism. Admittedly, a deeply flawed, opportunistically exploited secularism but nonetheless a moderately useful secularism that contributed to India not going to dogs the way Pakistan went.

          Such as change is not what you would want would you ?

    • An incisive reply to a long and meandering – and insipid – article that only served to personally diss other ‘seculars’ who had dared to disagree with him, and irritate any Hindu who would read this by repeatedly iterating the obnoxious lie that they are wallowing in false victimology while indulging in muscular majoritarianism and lynching Muslims on the streets! He thinks saying this in a local/desi language will make it more palatable to said Hindus. Commies cannot ever understand nationalism because it’s not in their book and it’s not in their bitter, power hungry hearts. They cannot understand the love for a motherland or for cultures and traditions because they have neither and don’t want these either. The only takeaway from this is that they are panicked that their false narratives – in schools, books, media, society – has been an utter failure, and that the ‘other side’ has snatched the opportunity. We must continue every effort of expose their attempts to emotionally and culturally corrupt the ordinary Indian and use them to grab power. Commies can’t teach Indians democracy. We are the world’s largest, most vibrant democracy DESPITE their relentless efforts to decimate us. Deleting accounts on Twitter cannot delete a civilisation that has stood for millennia. We’re a different kinds of ‘millennial’.

    • Mr Vish: If secularism is a non-Indian construct, isn’t democracy also a non-Indian construct ? Is that why the BJP & the RSS are getting rid of it?

      • Democracy as in freedom of thought, speech, debate and choose has always been an Indian tradition for millennia. Call it Hinduism, call it Sanatan dharma or anything else there has always been a space for individual choice. There is no single book, no commandments and no enforcement of ideas. This is India’s tradition. You can be a believer, a seeker, an atheist, an agnostic, sceptic and still be defined as a ‘Hindu’. This has simply been a way of life and it is debatable if it can be even called a religion in the classic sense. This is the reason why political democracy was the obvious choice in 1947. Most foreigners are confounded that democracy has survived in India because they simply don’t realise that this is in India’s DNA. However secularism defined as separation of the church and the state was a very specific European construct. India’s forte has always been pluralism a multiplicity of views be it political, religious, cultural or social. Unfortunately those like the author, schooled in a very one dimensional worldview or thought process, find it difficult to come to terms with the sophistication and nuances of Indian philosophical thought and tradition.

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