Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Secularism means separation of religion from the State

The preamble of our constitution declares India to be a secular nation. The Constitution through Article 25 allows every Indian to practice and propagate any religion of his/her choice. This means that the State of India is devoid of a religion and ideally practices no faith but welcomes all faiths and treats them equally.

However, recently, we saw The CM of Karnataka doling out money to Mutts. Former CM of Karnataka BS Yedyurappa had donated close to Rs. 300 crore to various Mutts in Karnataka according to an article in the Times of India dated 25 Feb 2013. The article also states that overall, a sum in excess of Rs. 500 crore was earmarked for Mutts by the BJP Government of Karnataka.

Now, donations to religious institutions is not wrong, as long as it is from one's own pocket. But the money that was given to the Mutts was from the State exchequer. Meaning it is the tax-payers money. This is, according to me, a violation of the secular principle of our Constitution.

This must not be encouraged. Politics and religion should not be clubbed together. The job of a political leader is to serve people no matter what community they belong to. And it is the job of our governments and judiciary to uphold the secular fabric of our nation.

Article 25(2)(a) of the Constitution says "Nothing in this article [Article 25] shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice." But does any law exist restricting any political activity associated with religion? If it did, all the issues related to politics and religion can be controlled. There would be no political instigation or involvement in any religious activity. Politics of religion can be removed from our country.

The State and religions will truly be separate and all faiths can live in harmony only if politics does not play a part in people's faith. I extend my support to a passing of such law under Article 25(2)(a) of our Constitution. If we restrict political activity in religion now, probably our children will live in a secular country. As of now, we only have a secular country on paper, not in reality. Remove religion from politics and government and secularism will come. Mark Tully, a former BBC correspondent in India said that India was fundamentally secular and I tend to agree with him. It is the politics that is harming this fundamentally secular nature of our country. This is my opinion and this is why I urge a separation of religion from the State.

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