Expanding Secularism's Scope: An Indian Case Study
15 Pages Posted: 7 May 2013
Date Written: 2004
In this paper I argue that unless Indian secularism breaks free of its definition as Western and inherently non-Indian, it faces increasingly difficult times. First, I explore various meanings of secularism and argue that in the Western European context secularism was born not as an anti-religion ideology, but rather from within Christian discourse, as a response to keep the growing centralized state out of the religious sphere. I propose that this idea was never allowed to evolve in the developing world context, where secularism was implemented by elites, most often removed from the realities of the masses. After a survey of Indian Constitutional provisions on religion, I argue that although the Constitution has provided India with a progressive concept of secularism, the politics of the nation, as well as recent Supreme Court decisions, have jeopardized the potential evolution envisioned by the Constitution.
Keywords: secularism, law and religion, India
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