It is rather bizarre that a country whose fundamentals in culture and tradition stem from the Hindu view of life as a philosophico-spiritual discourse should now be witness to a even more bizarre, and of course noisy, fights of myriad hues among pseudo-secularists and so-called ultra-tiolists (as they are branded so by the self-styled secular bandwagon) over the question of what constitutes true secularism and who really holds the brief for it. The country’s oldest political amalgamation, Congress, backed spiritedly by the ilk of Samajwadis and a rapidly declining Leftist force, has these days been all out to launch assault after assault on the saffron brigade, calling Modi, the prime target as usual, the chief architect of the Hindutva edifice, backed by the likes of Amit Shah, the BJP chief. In this war of words, and at times actions too, how can the BJP, therefore, be a mute spectator? Result: the party in power, at its zealous best, especially after its Uttar Pradesh surge, calls the Congress the sincerest advocate of a brand of secularism that is nothing but all about Muslim appeasement for petty political gains. We leave it to the reader to assess who is who, who is what. Only, we feel tempted to say, and with many a reason at that, that this funny debate on secularism will accomplish just one and only one unenviable task: that of pushing this ancient land of ours, in which once upon a time mahatmas like the Buddha walked, into an abyss of despair and despondency arising out of conflicts in the me of religion whose indulgence should be within the confines of four walls; religion being strictly a private affair, as we understand, in a truly secular socio-political matrix.
Having said that, the question remains: What is secularism, after all? Without bothering to intellectualize the debate, one simple answer may be that it is non-discrimition on the basis of religion, and this is what all and the sundry hold on to. Nonetheless, a question lurks, much to the discomfort of self-styled secularists, as to whether mere non-discrimition on religious basis entails an all-encompassing view of the holy and democratic practice called secularism; whether merely appealing to the sentiments of a particular religious minority in order to actually exploit those sentiments for a nefarious political mileage even at the cost of tiol security and the country’s very sovereignty constitutes the sacred ‘secular’ practice so atrociously rampant these days; whether the religious majority (read Hindus) can be dumped just because a particular religious minority group has to be appeased; and whether perhaps even a particular Islamic country too, notorious for its diabolic terror export to India, should be called a ‘friend’ just because some here would like our ‘secularists’ to say so aloud from housetops to prove our country’s ‘secular’ credentials. Some nutritious food for serious thought, this.
Indeed, cow vigilantism has no room in a secular society. After all, food is a matter of choice. Indeed, gau rakshaks of varied shades would rather do well to wake up to the pathetic plight of cattle on our cities’ busy roads as these poor animals, abandoned and left in the lurch to fend for themselves, disrupt normal traffic and even pay the cost by way of being brutally hit or trampled upon by speeding vehicles or reckless road pilots. Indeed, these self-styled Hindu fringe groups have better businesses to do on earth if at all they know what the true tenets of Hinduism really are. But how often are these groups seen holding meaningful debates with the votaries of an extremely distorted form of secularism so that the latter are put in their rightful places as they deserve? And why does it not occur to anyone, including both the self-anointed advocates of the Hindu cause and of the so-called secular cause, that when the Constitution of this tion-state was iugurated, its marvellously egalitarian Preamble did not even bother to carry the word secular? There was absolutely no need for this word to adorn the Preamble, so thought the brilliant minds who had drafted our Constitution, because as a country wedded to the Hindu, and hence secular, view of life, it did not have to be formally called secular. And now here we are, all in the business of taking the ‘secular’ debate to dizzying heights just in order that our politicians reap the best possible political harvest by hook or by crook (mostly by crook, of course).
The bottom line is: India is secular and will remain so. Reason? Well, the country has had an unwavering secular way of life in the truest sense of the term all along, invaders or non-invaders. Nevertheless, its sacrosanct ethos cannot be allowed to be diluted and derailed by those bent on clandestinely churning political murkiness out of the ostensibly virtuous practice of a very perverse form of secularism, which is nothing but a grand marriage of political notoriety with immoral and despicable political sustence. We wish this mahaan Bharatvarsh a truly secular luck in the turbulent times to come.