Finish Line & Beyond
Secularism as a modern political and constitutional principle involves two basicpropositions. The first is that people belonging to different faiths and sections of society are equal before the law, the Constitution and government policy. The secondrequirement is that there can be no mixing up of religion and politics. It followstherefore that there can be no discrimination against anyone on the basis of religionor faith nor is there room for the hegemony of one religion or majoritarian religioussentiments and aspirations. It is in this double sense--no discrimination againstanyone on grounds of faith and separation of religion from politics--that ourConstitution safeguards secularism, however imperfectly.The Indian Constitution allows individuals the freedom to live by their religiousbeliefs and practices as they interpret these. In keeping with this idea of religiousfreedom for all, India also adopted a strategy of separating the power of religion andthe power of the State.
Importance of Secularism
This is important for a country to function democratically. Almost all countries of theworld will have more than one religious group living in them. Within these religiousgroups, there will most likely be one group that is in a majority. If this majorityreligious group has access to State power, then it could quite easily use this powerand financial resources to discriminate against and persecute persons of otherreligions. This tyranny of the majority could result in the discrimination, coercion andat times even the killing of religious minorities. The majority could quite easilyprevent minorities from practicing their religions. Any form of domination based onreligion is in violation of the rights that a democratic society guarantees to each andevery citizen irrespective of their religion. Therefore, the tyranny of the majority andthe violation of Fundamental Rights that can result is one reason why it is importantto separate the State and religion in democratic societies.Another reason that it is important to separate religion from the State in democraticsocieties is because we also need to protect the freedom of individuals to exit fromtheir religion, embrace another religion or have the freedom to interpret religiousteachings differently.
The Indian Constitution mandates that the Indian State be secular. According to theConstitution, only a secular State can realise its objectives to ensure the following:1. That one religious community does not dominate another;
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