Freedom of Religion in India and Toxic Secularism

Freedom of Religion in India is a topic which has become very prominent in political discourse these days and different meanings of religion have started to flow in the mind of public which led rise to the agnosticism, atheism and various belief system which either aren’t sure of the existence of a supreme being or are completely stern in their belief that there exists no supreme being.

India, as a country, has always been secular and accepting of people’s belief irrespective of their motives. Indians have accepted everyone with an open heart and this open-heartedness brought many barbaric rulers to India who caused a blood bath in India. Mass killings, rapes, burning, stoning of people was very common in the medieval history of India.

Post independence, India was divided into two nations, one was named Islamic Pakistan which later turned out to be a mass exporter of terrorism to foreign soil and other part was Secular India, a country which is saving millions of lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. But the question was how shall we define Indian Secularism? Shall we define it on the lines of the west as a complete distancing of religion and state or shall we define it as equal treatments of every religion? Later, it was decided that the latter will be chosen.

Freedom of Religion in India and Politics

With passing time the definition of secularism and freedom of religion in India changed. Political parties and governments formed by them used their own definition of secularism. A toxic form of secularism and freedom of religion in India was carved out of the real sense of secularism and again politics mocked the constitution and the great Indian judiciary remained as a silent spectator.

People influenced with a flawed sense of secularism started a wave of distorted knowledge which struck many brains and washed some. These some furthered the agenda and the real secularism was somewhere lost. Religion appeasement became a political tool to get votes from the masses which is again a tool to mock the real sense of democracy and prove the fear of Socrates about democracy right.

Indian actress using verses from Quran to justify locust attacks in Inda

Last month, police officers arrested people for hoisting Bhagwa Flag at their shops and later registered FIRs against the people who distributed or asked the people to use the Bhagwa Flag in their shops. Police attacked the same constitutional values which they are expected to protect. Establishments snatched away the right of people to practice their religion freely. It must be noted Bhagwa Flag is a sign of Hindu Religion and is protected under freedom of religion in India.

While Halal products are secular in India, people using Bhagwa Flag is a danger to the secular fabric. This is not the first time when these political parties in government have done the same, Halal certification has become so mainstream that APEDA, the government agency for export of agricultural food items specifically mentions that all meat exports will be Halal. The process of Halal is inherently discriminatory in nature against the people of other religions.

Appropriation of Halal - An epitome of pseudo secularism in India
Screeenshot from APEDA website

What was the sad day for democracy and secularism that after all this is that the Judiciary never orders states to not indulge in practices that undermine the basic structure of the Indian constitution and uproots the trust of people from the government that they can provide them with a safe and secular environment to live and succeed. In the view of recent coronavirus outbreak, these debates might have been lost somewhere but the politicians will surely find a way to bring them in the mainstream election politics and polarise the voters on the basis of religion, excessive religious waywardness and what not.

While most of the Indians are busy in following the lockdown measures to safeguard themselves and rest are busy in attacking the Police and Medical staffs, it remains to be seen how governments deal with this increasing intolerance among the political parties.

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