During every discussion or analysis in every media now a days we hear our politicians, intellectuals, sociologists, historians and even the journalists utter the word “secularism” at the drop of a hat and give sermons to us as how it’s core to our nation’s socialist democratic set up and how it’s dilution by the “Hindutva” forces can be catastrophic to our identity and civilization as a nation state. Now the questions are:
1. What is the definition of “Secularism”?
2. How much the term “Secular” in its current form as used by the so called “secular parties” headed by Congress is relevant to our nation and its citizens?
3. Is it simply a bogey, historically being misused and abused in Indian polity just to fool and confuse the public?
4. Does “Hindutva” a threat to India’s secular identity, culture and civilization?
So, let us decode these myths and find what the reality is.
The term “Secularism” was first used by British writer George Jacob Holyoake in 1851. In political terms, secularism means separation of religion from state. A secular state observes complete neutrality in matters of religion, treating all its citizens equally in all matters of state policy, program or law regardless of their religion without favouring or giving preferential treatment to any particular religion or non-religion. Such a state considers religion only as a matter of personal faith. A secular person or politician can continue to hold his personal religious faith & beliefs, but he doesn't involve religion in matters of governance. Religion can’t be and should not be an instrument in the democratic process of such a secular state. Though, social values in all countries are bound to trace their origins to religion, but these must pass the test of rationality and public good before they are accepted as social norms or law for personal or public use.
Any other interpretation or meaning only means that the concept of secularism is being diluted and used for wrong doings and justifying malpractices and appeasement. But for some strange reasons, our historians, intellectuals, academicians and the media never questions or analyses if the so called self-proclaimed secular parties headed by the Congress practices secularism in its true sense. And hence Congress and its secular allies are continuing to misuse the word secular to brand anybody who is against its political interest as communal. Since independence, our indifference to the true practice of secularism has resulted in misuse and abuse of the words secular and communal and converted them into tools for confusing and dividing the people. Congress thinks that they are having the right to distribute "Secular" certificates to anybody.
If we look back at the history of our independence movement, we find that it was Congress party who was instrumental in aiding and abetting British rulers of that time for giving birth to communal politics in India which resulted finally in partition of this nation and creation of Pakistan on religious lines. In the pre independent India, there was no BJP to threaten Congress politically but still it alienated Muslims for its hunger for power. Congress’s inability to deal with the Muslim League and refusal to share power with them for one-third seats in the Central Legislature, failure in addressing their political security demands in a spirit of give and take, the failure of the Nehru Report of 1928 under the chairmanship of Motilal Nehru with Jawaharlal Nehru as secretary and the parting of ways with Jinnah and his 14 points for greed of power resulted in the British rulers resorting to the “Two Nation Theory” and creation of Pakistan. This was inspite of vehement opposition from Mahtma Gandhi, who was interested in sharing power with the Muslim League. How can the same Congress party that committed such unpardonable blunder and disastrously failed to protect the political security and interests of the Muslims of undivided India and forced them to seek a separate state based on their religion, claim to be the sole protector of Muslims today? Accepting the two nation theory for partition of India was tantamount to the Indian National Congress pleading guilty to that charge. Post independence, the handful of Congress leaders including Sardar Patel, who opposed the Nehruvian policy of “fake secularism” for continuing their hold on power during that time were all side-lined. Yes, it’s a fact that had Patel been our first PM, Kashmir and other such problems would have never existed today alongwith a particular minority community appeasement policy. Patel opposed Nehru’s plan for reservation for Muslims in the parliament which resulted in the then Govt. withdrawing such a proposal. He wanted all communities to forget their religion & first become Indian with their undivided loyalty to the nation. This was because the majority of supporters of Muslim League and a separate nation were not from present Pakistan but were from UP and Bihar. Patel was brutally honest and said that people belonging to the minority community in the country should not try to ride on two horses. Patel also believed that the onus was on Muslims to defeat suspicions about the actions of some of their co-religionists in the pre-partition days. Therefore, after Independence Congress Govt’s priority should have been to impart secular education as a compulsory subject in every school and college alongwith education on the glorious history of India and it’s civilization to integrate them into “Bharatiyata” for social cohesion, explaining the position of religion as assigned to it by the Constitution of India, the rights and obligations of all religious communities. It was also important to sensitise all minority communities, particularly Muslims, to the concept of secularism, as it was some of their kinsmen who had opted for another state on the basis of religion but they preferred to stay back as citizens of a secular nation. But successive Congress Govts failed to take any such step and instead resorted to cheap and symbolic gimmicks like Muslim Personal Law instead of Uniform Civil Code, Madrassa Education instead of Uniform Modern Education, Haj Subsidy etc. to keep the separate identity of Muslims alive so that they can remain as a unique group to be used as vote bank. Also, the Congress party nurtured and used the religious leaders of the Muslim community by dolling out favours to them to declare fatwas during elections to vote in favour of Congress. Indira Gandhi took this fake secularism to another level by inserting the word “Secular” in the Preamble of our Constitution during the Emergency days without explaining the true meaning of it. Article 25 of the Constitution, which guarantees every citizen the right not only to profess and practise his religion but also the right to propagate it, is the foundation of Indian secularism. Not a single word of the text of the Constitution was changed after the word "secular" was added to the Preamble, implying thereby, that the ingredients of secularism already existed.
The result of our undefined "secular" culture has become a tool for appeasement of a particular minority community. For Congress & it’s allies like SP, BSP, JD(U), RJD, NCP, TMC etc. & the Left Front- Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and even Christians etc. are not part of minority community as they don’t vote in block. The whole Indian constitution & even Supreme Court judgments have no value infront of dictates from the Mullahs. Who can forget the Shah Bano case – which was the greatest example of travesty of natural justice in a modern secular democracy? How can a secular country spent tax payers money only for religious pilgrimage of one particular community? Haj houses have been built in every corner of the country, subsidy on airfare is given, every send off & return is attended by a political leader in every airport of the country. But not even a proper road & shelter on the way in J&K for Amarnath pilgrims as it will endanger environment. Last year J&K Govt. (coalition of NC & Congress) has even withdrawn the little state support given on food & diesel etc. to Amarnath pilgrimage on their way. But none from this “Secular Brigade” raised a hue & cry. Think of the same, had it been done for Haj. Dussehra, Hanuman Jayanti & Ganesh Chaturthi processions can’t cross Muslim majority areas, as Muslims will complain about breaking peace in their area by loud noise & gatherings. But Hindus will have to hear the prayers from mosque 5 times a day on loudspeakers (strangely even Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population doesn’t allow prayer on loudspeakers) because India is a secular country. Riots will occur in Azad Maidan in Mumbai if illegal migrants get killed due to their fight for encroachment on tribal land in Assam or bomb blasts are justified in Bodhgaya as Muslims are killed in Myanmar violence. But if a Hindu is killed or converted live on TV in Pakistan/Bangladesh, no Hindu should even utter a word, since Hindus are secular & this is Pakistan's internal matter. Crores of Bangladeshi Muslims are allowed to settle in all states of India, but India Govt. has no time to think of Kashmiri Pandits, who have been systematically thrown out of their ancestral land of thousands of years. The funniest part of Congress brand of secularism is that outright communal parties like the MIM in Andhra Pradesh, the IUML in Kerala & the AIUDF in Assam are certified as secular, the moment Congress needs to ally with them. JD(U) was communal till it was in NDA but overnight got the certificate of “secular political party’ from none other than Prime Minister of India. RJD supremo, Laloo Yadav's only claim to fame apart from the fodder scam and the lawlessness which he gifted to Bihar, remains that of a die-hard secularist who got LK Advani arrested. It is just as strange that the present Bihar CM, Nitish Kumar, rediscovered his secular credentials only after getting a shockingly lukewarm response to his state-wide Sewa Yatra and sensing that his bete noire Laloo Yadav had recovered some of his lost ground. Union Home Minister Shinde has given another example of secular governance by issuing a dictate to the police of the country not to arrest “Muslim people” unnecessarily for investigating terror cases. Mulayam Singh Yadav has instructed UP Police Chief to deploy atleast 3 Muslim policeman in every police station in UP. How can the PM who represents the "Secular" Congress party says things like "Muslims have the first claim on resources of this country”? And to top it all the supreme leader of Congress party, Sonia Gandhi refers to Muslim voters as the only secular voters of the country and ask for support service of Shahi Imam to get Muslim votes in block for Congress. Congress joins hand with Muslim league, MQM, AIUDF etc. to win election after election, gave article 370, massacred thousands of Sikhs in Delhi in 1984, nurtured Masood Madani of Kerela, Owaisi brothers of AP, Abu Azmi in Mumbai, Geelanis in JK, but still Congress is most Secular & as BJP talks about removal of article 370, uniform civil code for all citizens etc., so BJP is most Communal. A leader like Narendra Modi, who says for him “Secularism means India First”, who says “Justice for all & appeasement of none”, who says “Religion should not be used as an instrument in our democratic process” is a “Communal” Politician but Digvijaya Singhs, Manish Tiwaris, Mulayams - who use every available opportunity to appease Muslims even at the cost of national security like, Samjhauta Express Blast, 26/11 Mumbai blast, Batala House encounter, Afzal Guru case, Ishrat Jahan case & even demoralizes our armed forces & intelligence agencies are “Secular Saints”. The Communal Violence Bill advocated by the National Advisory Council (NAC) headed by Sonia Gandhi is the most glaring example of biased and communally divisive agenda of Congress party to keep Indian people divided along religious lines. For Congress and its allies secularism mean seeking the Muslim vote bank exclusively for themselves and maligning all other nationalistic people and political organizations as communal. Muslims sadly never gained much inspite of going with Congress and these secular parties, as the Sachar Report showed. They are trapped into backwardness but have to admire these politicians going to Iftar parties wearing skull cap. Their backwardness is necessary for these political tricksters to keep them dependent on favours in return for votes.
Secularism in India, provides a great escape route to politicians & political parties from performance & accountability. Therefore every mediocre, non-performing & corrupt Indian politician or political party is a self-proclaimed secularist. In a fractured Hindu society, managing the 15% Muslim votes would make all the difference between winning election to control power or sitting in the opposition. Congress needs only another 20% votes from the majority community to rule & that is what they have been doing in the last 65 years. Even most of the regional parties viz., SP, BSP, RJD, TMC etc. & the Left front have also been perfecting this tactic to win elections. The word secularism has some respect and therefore I request these parties and their supporters and sympathisers not to insult it. The politics of Congress and its allies to please a certain community as pure vote bank are very well known.
The word “Hinduism” never existed before 1830 till it was coined by the British. There is no mention of the term "Hindu" either in the Vedas, Puranas or any other ancient text. Throughout India's ancient history, the word “Hindu” was never meant to denote religion. It was a geographic and cultural term used by the Greeks, Persians and Arabs, derived from the Sanskrit word “Sindhu”, to describe the people living by and beyond the river Sindhu. The Greeks modified Sindhu to Indos, and it is said that ancient Persian explorers because of their pronunciation rules dropped the letter S from Sindhu, and called the people living around the Sindhu River as Hindus. Even the term "Hindusthan" was first used in the 12th century by Muhammad Ghori, who referred to his conquered subjects as "Hindus and it became a label after the Muslim conquests to distinguish between the original inhabitants of the land from the invaders. Then came the first census of India by the British in 1871 that defined "Hindu" as a term to encompass several religions that were not Muslim or Christian. Thus, a term that originated to give geographical and cultural identity to a group of people by the invaders through the turbulent history of India, became a word connoting a religion and that is how it stands today. Encyclopaedia Britannica describes "Hinduism" as a blanket term covering several religions and does not refer to a single religion. "...Hinduism is both a civilisation and a congregation of religions. It has neither a beginning, nor a founder, nor a central authority, hierarchy nor organisation. It is the glorious catholicity of Hinduism that one can be a believer in one God or multiplicity of Gods or even none at all. Hinduism does not expel much less crucify alleged non-believers. Every attempt at a specific definition of Hinduism has proved unsatisfactory in one way or another. ... It has no organisation, no dogma or accepted creeds. There is no authority with recognised jurisdiction. A man, therefore, could neglect any one of the prescribed duties of his group and still be regarded as a good Hindu."
So, what is the meaning of “Hindutva”, a word undoubtedly originated from the word “Hindu”? As per the Supreme Court of India’s judgement of 1995, it means “the way of life of the Indian people and the Indian culture or ethos and by no means an anti minority or anti Muslim potion. Ordinarily, Hindutva is understood as a way of life or a state of mind and is not to be equated with or understood as religious Hindu fundamentalism...it is a fallacy and an error of law to proceed on the assumption... that the use of words Hindutva or Hinduism per se depicts an attitude hostile to all persons practising any religion other than the Hindu religion..." Hence, are the Hindutva bashing "secular brigade" of politicians, intellectuals and media casting aspersions on the Supreme Court judgement that Hindutva is nothing but a secular way of life? Hindutva is neither hostility to any organised religion nor it proclaims superiority of any religion over another. It is a shield of security and freedom for all religious minorities for its core value is “Sadeva Kutambhekam”- we are all one family. A Hindu can never be communal and violent towards other religions as it’s not there in the DNA of Hinduism. Let me quote from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28, the Sanskrit prayer "Aum, Asato ma sad-gamaya; tamaso ma jyotir-gamaya; mrtyor-ma amrutam gamaya, Aum shanti, shanti shanti”. Its English translation is - "Lead me from ignorance to truth. Lead me from darkness to light. Lead me from death to immortality. May there be peace, peace and eternal peace". So, a Hindu while praying to God does not seek power or wealth, nor hatred or enslavement or slaughter of those who has different beliefs, but only spiritual light and peace on earth for all its inhabitants. Can anyone question the intrinsic secularism of Hinduism originated thousands of years before the Congress party claimed its patent? Hindu scriptures preach “Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti" – meaning, though there is one truth, it is interpreted differently by different intellectuals. Differences in interpretation do not brand anyone as an infidel or heretic or guilty of blasphemy.
The secular brigade of politicians, intellectuals and media need to remember that India is a secular country, only because it’s 80% population is Hindu. Nobody also should try to hide that fact that as long as Muslims are in minority in a country, they want secularism to prevail but the moment they become majority, they want a theocratic, shariah practicing Islamic country. Can they show a Muslim majority country, which is secular? India had Muslim as President, PM, Chief justice and in many other important posts, only because it’s a Hindu majority country. Can they show a Muslim majority country where a non Muslim could ever become a President, a Prime Minister or a Chief Justice or even reach one of the highest ranks in armed forces? Why a country, can a non Muslim ever become CM in the only Muslim majority state in India i.e. Jammu & Kashmir? But the “Secular Saints” will never raise those questions but ask only Hindus of this country to practice secularism. Hindu is the only religion that preaches and practices secularism in the true sense. History proves this fact and therefore, being the largest religion at one time (few centuries ago), its survival is at stake today for practicing secularism. The Mullah’s who preach hatred towards other religious faith and belief every Friday and openly encourage people for “Jihad” (hoy war) against “Kefers”(non believers) are all secular, the missionaries who’s only aim in the guise of spreading education & health is religious conversion are all seculars, but if some Hindus try to protest or stop them in such activity, they are communal. For these “Secular Saints”- deriding Hindu culture, faith and Gods through literature, art etc. are secular freedom of expression. The nexus is very evident between the Congress led, self-proclaimed liberal-secular class, supported by the caste based political parties and the plethora of foreign funded NGOs, who play one community against another in the name of protection of human rights and poverty alleviation to ensure Congress continues to retain the power to rule India as it suits their interests. It’s high time that every right thinking, nationalistic and patriotic Indian citizen must ensure that the misuse of the term “Secularism” and demonizing “Hindutva” is stopped.