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Secularism Under Siege: Several Parts Of Indian Subcontinent Witness Demise Of Pluralism

Counter-Point

Secularism Under Siege: Several Parts Of Indian Subcontinent Witness Demise Of Pluralism

The areas of the subcontinent where Hinduism has become extinct have witnessed the demise of liberal values, such as democracy, pluralism and secularism.

Discordant Notes: Huge crowds attend Muslim League’s Direct Action Day in Calcutta in 1946
Discordant Notes: Huge crowds attend Muslim League’s Direct Action Day in Calcutta in 1946 Photo: Getty Images

We need to ask two questions: Why India is secular, when neighbouring Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan aren’t. And is there a threat to its secular character? India isn’t surely ‘secular’, because the word was surreptitiously introduced in its Constitution during Emergency in 1976. India is secular and a vibrant democracy because of its timeless ethos that includes equal respect to all forms of worship and right to dissent to individuals.

Why didn’t residual India become a Hindu Rashtra, when the breakaway part Pakistan dec­lared itself an Islamic Republic in 1947? It couldn’t have—because pluralism is central to its value system. In the entire Indian history, though the Hindu rulers lived by their faith, they hardly ever used force or state resources to pressurise or persuade their subjects to follow the deity or creed they believed in.

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