NCERT Class 11 Political Science Chapter 8 Secularism: Intra-Religion Domination

Doorsteptutor material for IAS is prepared by world's top subject experts: Get detailed illustrated notes covering entire syllabus: point-by-point for high retention.

What is Secularism? ?

What is Secularism?
  • Devoid of inter & intra religious domination Promote freedom within religion Equality between and within religion
  • Though Jews faced discrimination for centuries throughout Europe, in the present state of Israel, Arab minorities, both Christian and Muslims, are excluded from social, political and economic benefits available to Jewish citizens. Subtle forms of discrimination also continue to persist against non-Christians in several parts of


Inter-religious Domination

Indian Constitution declares that every Indian citizen has a right to live with freedom and dignity in any part of the country

  • More than 2,700 Sikhs were massacred in Delhi – 1984
  • Hindu Kashmiri pandits have been forced to leave their homes in the Kashmir valley
  • 1,000 persons, mostly Muslims, were massacred during the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat in 2002

One community are targeted and victimized on account of their religious identity – basic freedom is denied

  • Secularism is first and foremost a doctrine that opposes all such forms of inter-religious domination
  • Secularism opposes inter and intra-religious domination

Intra-Religion Domination

Intra Religion Domination
  • religion is merely the ‘opium of the masses’ and that, one day, when the basic needs of all are fulfilled and they lead a happy and contented life, religion will disappear.
  • It is unlikely that human beings will ever be able to fully know the world and control it. We may be able to prolong our life but will never become immortal. Disease can never be entirely eliminated, nor can we get rid of an element of accident and luck from our lives
  • Separation & losses are endemic
  • Hinduism - dalits have been barred from entering Hindu temples, restrictions on female entry to temples
  • Religious fundamentalism in USA - endangers peace both within the country and outside – violence and persecution of minorities

Secular State

Goals partly derived from non-religious sources Peace

Religious Freedom

Freedom from religiously grounded oppression, discrimination and exclusion Inter-religious and intra-religious equality

Mutual Enlightenment

  • Education – reduce prejudice and suspicion towards communities
  • States have enormous public power – what kind of state is needed to prevent religious conflict and to promote religious harmony
  • state must not be run by the heads of any particular religion.
  • A state governed directly by a priestly order is called theocratic. Theocratic states, such as the Papal states of Europe in medieval times or Taliban-controlled state, lacking separation between religious and political institutions, are known for their hierarchies, and oppressions

Non-Theocratic States with Alliance to Religion

  • state in England in the sixteenth century was not run by a priestly class but clearly favored the Anglican Church and its members. England had an established Anglican religion, which was the official religion of the state.
  • Today Pakistan has an official state religion, namely Sunni Islam

Western Model of Secularism – American Model

Western Model of Secularism
  • All secular states have one thing in common: they are neither theocratic nor do they establish a religion
  • American Model - state will not intervene in the affairs of religion & religion will not interfere in the affairs of the state – each has separate sphere of its own with independent jurisdiction
  • No policy of the state can have an exclusively religious rationale.
  • No religious classification can be the basis of any public policy.
  • State cannot aid any religious institution. It cannot give financial support to educational institutions run by religious communities. Nor can it hinder the activities of religious communities
  • If a particular religion forbids the entry of some of its members in the sanctum of its temple, then the state has no option but to let the matter rest exactly where it is. – religion is a private matter and not a state policy

Mustafa Kamal Ataturk Secularism

  • involved, active intervention in and suppression of, religion.
  • After WW1 and end of Khalifa – measure to modernise and secularise Turkey. Ataturk changed his own name from Mustafa Kemal Pasha to Kemal Ataturk (Ataturk translates as Father of the Turks) .
  • Fez, a traditional cap worn by Muslims, was banned by the Hat Law. Western clothing was encouraged for men and women. The Western (Gregorian) calendar replaced the traditional Turkish calendar. In 1928, the new Turkish alphabet (in a modified Latin form) was adopted.
  • Individualistic Conception
  • Liberty is the liberty of individuals
  • Equality is the equality of individuals
  • mainstream secularism has no place for the idea of state supported religious reform – separation of state from church or religion

Indian Model of Secularism

Indian Model of Secularism
  • Indian secularism is fundamentally different from Western secularism
  • Indian secularism does not focus only on church-state separation and the idea of inter-religious equality

Deep Religious Diversity

  • Already a culture of inter-religious ‘tolerance’
  • It may allow some space to everyone, but such freedom is usually limited.
  • Advent of western modernity brought to the fore hitherto neglected and marginalised notions of equality in Indian thought – it ushered ideas of inter-community equality. Indian secularism took on a distinct form as a result of an interaction between what already existed in a society that had religious diversity and the ideas that came from the west. It resulted in equal focus on intra-religious and interreligious domination
  • Indian secularism deals not only with religious freedom of individuals but also with religious freedom of minority communities.
  • Indian constitution bans untouchability. The Indian state has enacted several laws abolishing child marriage and lifting the taboo on inter-caste marriage sanctioned by Hinduism
  • Can a state initiate or even support religious reforms and yet be secular? Can a state claim to be secular and not maintain separation of religion from state?
  • Sophisticated balance - allows it either to disengage with religion in American style, or engage with it if required
  • Indian state may engage with religion negatively to oppose religious tyranny – untouchability
  • Secularism is much more than mere peaceful coexistence or toleration. If this phrase means equal feeling of respect towards all established religions and their practices, then there is an ambiguity that needs clearing. Indian secularism allows for principled state intervention in all religions. Such intervention betrays disrespect to some aspects of every religion
  • Nehru՚s vision - ‘Equal protection by the State to all religions’ . secular state to be one that “protects all religions but does not favour one at the expense of others and does not itself adopt any religion as the state religion” . Nehru did not practise any religion, nor did he believe in God. But for him secularism did not mean hostility to religion. State can interfere to bring social reform if required. Nehru himself played a key role in enacting laws abolishing caste discrimination, dowry and sati, and extending legal rights and social freedom to Indian women
  • Secularism for him meant a complete opposition to communalism of all kinds. Secularism for him was not only a matter of principles, it was also guarantee of the unity and integrity of India.

Criticism of Indian Secularism

Criticism of Indian Secularism
  • Anti-religious – worthy or unworthy and not undermined and what is undermined
  • Western Import - secularism is linked to Christianity, that it is western and, therefore, unsuited to Indian conditions. In the west, it was the Church-state separation, which was central and in countries such as India, the idea of peaceful coexistence of different religious communities
  • Minoritysm - The person in the minority loses but the result appears fair because a proper democratic procedure adopted by common agreement was followed – train and smoke (4 person – 1 smoker, 2 mild smoker and 4th non-smoker – vote and non-smoker defeated) – case 2 – non-smoker suffers asthma - A person has a prior right to the satisfaction of his or her significant interests – constitutional law protection. Film on 1st floor by stairs – what about old age, disabled person. treat them with the same respect and dignity
  • Interventionist – secularism interferes excessively with the religious freedom of communities. Indian secularism follows the concept of principled distance which also allows for non-interference. Besides, interference need not automatically mean coercive intervention. Indian secularism permits state-supported religious reform. Personal laws can be reformed in such a way that they continue to exemplify both minority rights and equality between men and women. state must act as a facilitator by supporting liberal and democratic voices within every religion
  • Vote Bank Politics - secularism encourages the politics of vote banks. democracy politicians are bound to seek votes, promote self-interest or power
  • Impossible Project - Secularism cannot work because it tries to do too much, to find a solution to an intractable problem. People with deep religious differences will never live together in peace. migration of people from former colonies to the west, and the increased movement of people across the globe with the intensification of globalisation, Europe and America and some parts of the Middle-East are beginning to resemble India in the diversity of cultures.

Developed by: