In 19th century Europe, industrialisation, and the mass migrations from farms and villages to the towns and cities, went hand in hand with the death of God: organised religion began to decline, and the Church and state moved further and further apart. The experience of South Asia has been more or less the reverse of this. All over the subcontinent faith has been growing and religion becoming stronger as the region has reinvented itself in different ways over the last twenty years. This is at least as much true of India as it is of Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
During the early 20th century, educated, urban Hindu reformers moved away from ritualised expressions of faith in favour of a more philosophical Hinduism, while Nehru and Ambedkar constitutionally formed India as a model secular state. This was to be a state where, in Nehru’s celebrated words, dams would be the new temples. But over the last two decades, just as India has freed itself from the shackles of Nehruvian socialism, in many ways, it has also gone a long way to try and shake off Nehruvian secularism.