Secularism in the Indian Context

Posted: 10 Sep 2015

See all articles by Deepa Das Acevedo

Deepa Das Acevedo

University of Alabama - School of Law

Date Written: December 1, 2013

Abstract

Indian constitutional framers sought to tie their new state to ideas of modernity and liberalism by creating a government that would ensure citizens’ rights while also creating the conditions for democratic citizenship. Balancing these two goals has been particularly challenging with regard to religion, as exemplified by the emergence of a peculiarly Indian understanding of secularism which requires the nonestablishment of religion but not the separation of religion and state. Supporters argue that this brand of secularism is best suited to the particular social and historical circumstances of independent India. This article suggests that the desire to separate religion and state is integral to any understanding of secularism and that, consequently, the Indian state neither is nor was meant to be secular. However, Indian secularists correctly identify the Indian state’s distinctive approach to religion-state relations as appropriate to the Indian context and in keeping with India’s constitutional goals.

Keywords: India, secularism, religion, law, Hinduism, temples

Suggested Citation

Das Acevedo, Deepa, Secularism in the Indian Context (December 1, 2013). Law and Social Inquiry, Vol. 38, No. 1, 138-67, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2657676

Deepa Das Acevedo (Contact Author)

University of Alabama - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 870382
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
United States

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