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"Average Indian is more secular than political parties"
A person practices secularism if he excludes religious considerations from civil affairs. In a country like India, where people of many religions, ethnicities and languages exist, it is all the more important to embrace secularism in our daily lives.
But is it evident in the present day India? Although the Indian Constitution clearly states that we shall be a secular and a democratic republic, prohibiting discrimination against members of a caste, religion, race and gender, it is not evident in the actions of many politicians.
There is discrimination at every level in India. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), led by Mayawati, has a Dalit agenda, where the aim of the party is to uplift the status of the poor and the underprivileged. Isn’t this discrimination? It is not wrong to improve the lives of the poor, but when an appeal is made to a specific group of people, it becomes an exercise in communalism and this is what many political parties, including the BSP are doing.
The same can be said about Narendra Modi, who promotes Hindutva and appeals to only Hindu voters. Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, simply talks about how unsafe Gujarat is for Muslims, and does not do anything to improve the situation. This is not what secularism is supposed to be.
Not all Indians living in the country practice secularism. An average Indian is considered to be secular because he is more likely to vote for a political party that looks into the overall welfare of the community.
However, an average Indian is often misled by politicians, who intelligently disguise economic packages and programs for the poor and the underprivileged. Once these programs are targeted at specific religious groups, politics in India becomes communal in nature. And once Indians get dragged into the dirty communal game played by politicians, they too become non-secular in nature.
India can only be secular if all the political parties develop an ideology and an approach to politics in which secularism triumphs and communalism is submerged.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I do not expect India of my dreams to develop one religion (i.e. to become wholly Hindu or Christian or Muslim), but I want it to be wholly tolerant, with its religions working side by side with one another”. This is what we should aim for. Instead of just leaving secularism on paper, we should put it to practice by embracing people of all cultures.
We do see secularism being practiced by many Indians, in the workplace and in communities, but it should be preached by politicians too. Only then will India become truly secular in nature.