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Unformatted text preview: 17 Secularism UNIT 29 SECULARISM Structure 29.0 Objectives 29.1 Introduction 29.2 Understanding the Indian Need for and Debates about Secularism 29.3 Western Context of Secularism 29.4 Historical Sociology of the Need for Secularism in India 29.4.1 Structural Changes: Modernisation and its Consequences 29.4.2 Changes in the Organisation of Social Life 29.5 Appropriate Version of Secularism for India 29.5.1 Civilisation Differences 29.5.2 Western Separation unworkable in India 29.5.3 Separation Principle: Reworking Required in the Indian Context 29.5.4 Reworked Solution: Principled Distance 29.6 Let Us Sum Up 29.7 Some Useful References 29.8 Answers to Check Your Progress Exercises 29.0 OBJECTIVES In this lesson, we will discuss the following issues: • How best to approach secularism? • What is the Indian context of secularism? • Why is tradition becoming unable to handle tensions? • How is secularism becoming rooted in India? • Is the western version of secularism applicable to India? • What are the difficulties of transition in India? • What is the appropriate version of secularism for India? • Why is it appropriate? It is hoped that after going through this unit, you will be in a position to provide suitable answers to each of the above issues. 29.1 INTRODUCTION If we were to look for a definition of secularism in the context of the wider world, then the most acceptable one would be: it is a principle which advocates the separation of religion from politics (what in India we call dharma-nirapekshataa ). The key term here is separation . On the face of it, this seems a simple, uncomplicated principle. But on a closer examination, it will be seen that it is not. Separation can mean many different things and can pose difficulties, if we work with a single meaning. It can mean different things in different societies. The Indian case poses unique difficulties. We will try to show that an Indian version of secularism depends, importantly, on how we understand separation. 18 Contemporary Issues 29.2 UNDERSTANDING THE INDIAN NEED FOR AND DEBATES ABOUT SECULARISM To understand these, let us start by asking: how best to understand the Indian need for, and debates about secularism. It is obvious that secularism as a concept, principal and a set of practices emerged first in a different historical context viz, in the West. It is only in the last 100 years, more so in the 50 years i.e. since the adoption of the Constitution in 1950, that secularism has become a topic of debate in Indian society. And in the last 10-15 years it has also become a matter of serious disputes and contentions. In the case of India, because she joined late in the history of development of modern ideas and their actualisation, we have to ask two types of questions. These are: why do we need secularism? What can be the relevant form of secularism for India? And, this first question has become important because there is a section of people in India, both among intellectuals and political activists, who believe and argue...
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This note was uploaded on 03/13/2012 for the course IR 101 taught by Professor Harfancoofers during the Spring '12 term at Sunway University College.
- Spring '12
- The Land