points made by Shri Pavan K. Varma, (Mail
Today, 12 June, 2011) and the
response there to :
Secularism is enshrined as a fundamental article of our Constitution.
is a term applied to the system of
social ethic associated with the name of G.J. Holyoake (Principles of
Secularism by Holyoake, 1885 ) The term secularism is derived from
the word, secular. The word is
understood in two senses : One, as a long term tendency; two, meaning not
religious or spiritual or sacred. We
are considering the term in the latter sense, that is, in the sense of not being
religious. The secular state had its origin in the West. The rise of
Christianity led to discord between the Church and the State. From the
beginning, the Christianity recognized the basic duality:
The temporal and the spiritual. It is best expressed in the well known
phrase: Render therefore unto Caesar the
things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's. The first great
step towards the freedom of religion was taken with the issue of the Edict of
Milan(312 AD ) which said : Liberty
of worship shall not be denied to any, but that the mind and will of every
individual shall be free to manage divine affairs
according to his own choice. In
America, an attempt was made at complete separation between the Church and the
State. The American Constitution
contains no reference to God. Article VI of the Constitution
says that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to
any office or public trust under the
United States. The first amendment
to the Constitution carried out in
1791 made the position quite explicit. It reads : Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise
thereof. Later in 1802, President Jefferson wrote
: I contemplate with sovereign reverence that Act of the American people
which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an
establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise
thereof, thus building a wall of separation between the Church and the
Stasi Report on Secularism
Stasi report which was submitted to the French Government
in December, 2003 is the
latest thesis on what is a secular State. The
report was the backgrounder for the
Secular law which was passed by the French National Assembly in March,
2004. The Report defines Secularism
through three essential principles :
a) freedom of
conscience, b) equality in law
for spiritual and religious belief ;
neutrality of political power.
French insistence on secularism or the absolute separation of the Church from
the state goes back to 1905 when in December that year a Republican Law was
passed by the National Assembly. Its Article
1 assured the liberty of conscience. It guaranteed the free exercise of
religious belief. The only restriction was decreed in the interest of public
order. Article 2 states that the
Republic does not recognize either salaries paid or subsidies granted to any
religious group. The Stasi report
has stated that Islam is believed to be incompatible with secularism. This was
the provocation to the investigation carried out by Bernard Stasi and the
subsequent passing of legislation. These provisions
not only ensure the neutrality of
political authority but also the freedom of conscience
and belief as well as equality before the law. The Stasi Report has
emphasized Secularism as a cornerstone of a democracy.
Is India a Secular State?
the passage of the 42nd
amendment (1976 )
to the Constitution of India, the word Secular was not used in the
Preamble to the Constitution
inter-alia states :
the people of India, having resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign,
Socialist Secular democratic republic to secure to all its citizens�. Though
the Preamble is not enforceable in a
court of law, the importance of the Preamble has been pointed out
on several occasions by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India .
Secularism in India means
that the State protects all
religions equally and it does not
uphold any religion as a state religion. Articles
25-28 envisage freedom of conscience and free professions, practice and
propagation of religion. At the same
time, according to Article 27 the state will not compel any citizen to pay any
taxes for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious
institution' no religious
instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly provided by
the state funds.
Violence of the Word by
actual fact, the Government of India
have not at all practiced secularism as would be observed from a few examples
given below :
Article 44 :
This Article envisages that there would be a uniform civil code for all citizens
of India. The article was based on
the assumption that there is no necessary connection between religion and
personal law. In keeping with this
perception, the Special
Marriage Act was passed in 1954. This
was followed by changes in the personal laws of the Hindus. No corresponding
change, however, was brought about in the Muslim personal law.
In this context, Justice M.
C. Chagla and Justice M. U. Beg have observed :
Chagla : That Article 44
is a mandatory provision binding on the government.
The Constitution was enacted for the whole country and it is binding on
the whole country and every section and community must
accept its provisions and directives .
Justice M. H.
Beg : Questions of
personal law, such as marriage and succession are not matters of religion,
It would be against reason to urge that a rule of succession, which is
just for a Hindu or a Sikh family
could be unjust in another family because they profess a different religion
(Quoted in Introduction to the Constitution of India by Brij Kishore
Hajj Subsidy : About a thousand crore has been provided in the
Central Budget for 2011-12 for being
given as subsidy to those Muslims who wish to go on pilgrimage to Mecca/Medina.
No such subsidy is provided to Christians to visit Jerusalem or to Hindus who
visit pilgrimage centers in the North or South India.
This is the kind of secularism that India practices today !
Darul Qazas : In a
number of States shariah courts are functioning.
This amounts to an assault on the majesty of the Hon'ble
Supreme Court of India.
Ministry for Minority Affairs : In the 200 years of British rule,
there was no Ministry of Minority Affairs. The
Congress led UPA government set up this Ministry.
It was set up on the demand of the Muslims who had overwhelmingly voted
for Congress in
2004 election. It
needs to be mentioned in this connections that it is the same minority
which had voted en masse for the
creation of Pakistan in 1945-46 election.
Muslim Minority Concentration Districts : Under this,
programmes/schemes are being implemented for Muslims. This is another step taken
by the Congress to disintegrate the country.
In what way are Muslims more deserving of Government help than the poor
Hindus spread across the length and breadth of India.
Muslim Universities : There is a well organized campaign on the
part of Muslim leaders to set up Muslim Universities in different corners of
India. It has been reported in
the in the Press that the Government
of India have agreed to the setting up of Muslim Universities in Bihar,
Rajasthan and Karnataka. The
Opposition leaders belonging to the BJP have not said a word against the
communalization of education in the country.
No less a person than Sir Aga Khan in his autobiography has written that
the state of Pakistan was born in the Aligarh Muslim University. Is it the
intention of Hindu leaders to balkanize India into a series of Darul Islam?
What is happening is that it is the Hindu tax payer who ultimately pays
for the running of these communal institutions.
Is it not another form of jizya which was a regular feature of Muslim
rule in India for centuries? In
effect, there is an Islamic state functioning within the confines of Indian
That Jawaharlal Nehru wrote the following : We have a Muslim minority
who are so large in number that they cannot, even if they want to, go anywhere
else. That is the basic fact about which there can be no argument.
above statement is a complete distortion of facts.
Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah had offered a permanent solution to Indian Muslim
issue. The more we look back at the last 60 years, the more we would realize how
expensive it has been to ignore the wisdom of Jinnah. If Gandhi and Nehru had
only listened to him there would have been no problem of Kashmir or over
population and terrorism could have been dealt with more effectively. Above all,
Hindus left behind (in Pakistan) would not be suffering as they are being
persecuted at present. As recorded in volume IX of The Transfer of Power
1942 - 47 edited by Dr. Nicholas Mansergh, Fellow of St. John's College,
Cambridge and Mr. Penderal Moon, on page 75, Mr. Jinnah had made a forceful
reference to the exchange of populations to be considered seriously. Jinnah had
also made direct request to Viceroy Wavell for an exchange, as stated on page
322 of The Transfer of Power in India by V.P. Menon. Furthermore, eight Muslim
League leaders including Jinnah, had asked for exchange of population during
1946-47. The most drastic statement was of Sir Feroz Khan Noon, later became
Prime Minister of Pakistan, who threatened to re-enact murderous orgies of
Chengez Khan and Halaqu Khan if non-Muslims took up an obstructive attitude
against population exchange. The
other six leaders who supported the same proposal were Mohammad Ismail of
Madras, Shaukat Hayat Khan, Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Ismail Chundrigar, Pir
Ilahi Bux and Nawab of Mamdot.
Facsimiles of the speeches made by League Leaders which appeared in the
Dawn (1946-47) are given on the preceding page.
had also told the Cabinet Mission in 1946 that Hindus and Muslims left behind in
Pakistan and Hindustan respectively after the exchange would be treated as reciprocal
hostages. This, according to him, would be the best guarantee of safety and
security of minorities in the two countries.
fact of the matter is that both Gandhi and Nehru had spent their entire
political life in proving that Muslim League did not represent the Muslims of
the sub-continent and Jinnah was not their unquestioned leader.
is what Leonard Mosley, an eminent author, in his book The Last Days of the
British Raj (1961) says about Nehru: Now (1946) he was President (of the
Congress Party) he showed his real feelings. The way his mind was working at
this time would tend to suggest that even this late in the day, he had no
real conception of the power of Mr. Jinnah and the enormous influence which
he had built up as leader of the Muslim community. His contempt for Jinnah was
ill-conceived (the contempt was reciprocal) and his dislike of the aims and
intentions of the Muslim League was such that he seriously underestimated its
British writer on the creation of Pakistan observes : Jinnah, having an
unrivalled reputation among the Muslims for political integrity and
parliamentary skill, was the obvious leader who guided rather than caused the
movement towards Pakistan between 1937 and 1940.
If there had been no Jinnah, it still seems probable that there would
have been a Pakistan.(The Making of Pakistan by Richard Symonds).
is what N.V. Gadgil, a Cabinet Minister in Nehru's first Cabinet has recorded in
his book Government From Inside : I have already described how
systematically Pakistan drove out its Hindus and how they encouraged Bengali
Muslims to enter and occupy some areas in Assam. The Indian Government took no
notice of them. On the other hand,
Nehru was greatly annoyed when once Vallabhbhai suggested mutual exchange of
Hindu and Muslim population and a proportional division of land between India
in all, it can be said that it is Nehru's arrogance and contempt for Jinnah that
had come in the way of exchange of populations between Hindustan and Pakistan.
3. That Mahatma Gandhi was a convincing spokesman for
4. That Mahatma also knew the essential tenets of other
the above two points are inter-related these are not being dealt with
separately. There is no doubt about the fact that the Mahatma was a convincing
spokesman for communal harmony and he had the basic knowledge about religions.
What is not understood is the fact that despite having the requisite knowledge
he went on ceaselessly imposing his viewpoint on the Muslims.
Muslim leaders on more than one occasion had made it clear that for them
religion comes first and everything else later.
Given below are a few examples :
Mahatma Gandhi, as the sole representative of the Congress Party had
attended the second session of the Round Table Conference held at London in
September 1931. He was member of the two sub-committees - Committee on Federal
Structure and Committee on Minorities. In the presence of the British Prime
Minister, Sir Ramsay MacDonald, Muslim leaders had told the conference that
Gandhi's Congress did ;not represent Muslims. In Gandhi's own words : It is
with deep sorrow and deeper humiliation that I have to announce utter failure to
secure an agreed ;solution of the communal question.
At the conference, Gandhi was asked about the reasons for continuing
discord between the Hindus and Muslims. He answered
This quarrel is not old. I dare to say it is coeval with the British
advent. With this answer, Gandhi had turned the Medieval history of India -
the Muslim period of history - upside
down. Hindu-Muslim riots are still common even after 60 years of Independence.
This is happening because Gandhi and Nehru had not agreed to the exchange of
population between Pakistan and Hindustan.
Maulana Mohammad Ali, a great friend of Gandhi, had attended the first
session of the Round Table Conference held in 1930.
At this conference, he had said : Make no mistake about the quarrels
between Hindus and Mussalmans, they are founded only on the fear of domination.
He went on to observe : I belong to two circles of equal size but which are not
concentric. One is India and the
other is the Muslim world. We are not nationalists but supra nationalists.
(Quoted from The Constitutional Problem In India by Sir R. Coupland, OUP,
At the All India Muslim Conference held in Bombay in April, 1930, Maulana
Muhammad Ali declared that the Muslims did not want British domination and also
did not want Hindu domination, and that they could not join Mr. Gandhi's
movement because its aim was not to achieve independence for India but to make
the 70 million Muslims of India dependent on the Hindu Mahasabha (The Indian
Muslims by M. Mujeeb, George Allen &
The Ulema objected to any form of cultural and social
assimilation, even till first decades of the twentieth century, the more strict
among them would wash their hands if they had by chance greeted an Englishman or
a Hindu with a handshake. Maulwi
Abdul Bari of Firangi Mahal Lucknow, objected to Mahatma Gandhi wearing a dhoti
that did not cover his knees (ibid).
In 1924, the same Mohammad Ali had made this thundering statement at
Aligarh and Ajmer : However pure Mr.
Gandhi's character may be, he must appear to me from the point of view of
religion inferior to any Mussalman, even though he be without character.�
Sometime later at Lucknow, he eloquently accepted the above statement attributed
to him by saying : �Yes, according to my religion and creed, I do hold an
adulterous and a fallen Mussalman to be better than Mr. Gandhi.� (Indian
Muslims by Ram Gopal, Asia Publishing House, New York).
this humiliation Gandhi went on appeasing the Muslims. Eventually Gandhi had
failed to convince the Muslims and they were successful in dividing the country