Sep 07, 2022 | 04:35 IST

Uphold India’s secular and socialist status

India is a multi-religious and multi-cultural country.

Clauses 25 and 30 of the Indian Constitution mention that the majority should not impose its religion, language and culture on others by force. Religious and linguistic minorities must have the right to protect and maintain their religious beliefs, languages ​​and culture. The greatness of a country lies in the way it treats its minorities. These democratic rights in political justice are preserved by unity, integrity and brotherhood. Clauses 25 and 28 say that citizens have the right to practice and spread the religion they prefer to follow. They also have the right to run religious and educational institutions; however, if the institution is owned by the government or operated on government grants, it is not allowed to conduct religious studies in the educational institutions.

Articles 29 and 30 protect the rights of religious and linguistic minorities. The reason for recalling all of this is that a petition has been filed with the Supreme Court to omit the words secular and socialist from the preamble to the constitution. A similar resolution was passed at the Hindu Rashtra Nirmiti convention held in June at Ramnathi. The legal ways to curb secularism have now begun. A particular group of people followed and still follows a narrative that India can never be a secular state. These incidents are the result of that. This class is today at the forefront of the total erasure of the concept of secularism from the face of this country which is closely associated with the intention to establish a “Hindu Rashtra”. BJP leader and former MP Subramanian Swamy filed a petition in the Supreme Court asking to omit the words secular and socialist from the preamble of the constitution and in a way challenged the very amendment of the constitution. He also mentioned that these two words should not be included in the constitution. Then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi included the respective words in the preamble to the 1976 42nd Amendment during the emergency period. However, the country had accepted socialism long before.

Meanwhile, in 2015, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting received backlash for using a preamble image where socialist and secular, the two words were missing. Then-Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asked Nehru if the late Congress leader had any idea what secularism meant. “These words were only included during the state of emergency and so what is the danger if they are debated now? We have kept the original preamble in front of people,” he said. The Supreme Court in 2008 rejected a request to omit the word socialist. The three-member bench chaired by former Indian Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan had lambasted the petitioner saying why socialism should be curtailed as if portrayed by a communist. Socialism in a big picture means having welfare policies for citizens. It is an aspect of democracy and there is not just one rigid definition.

It can be perceived differently depending on the situation. During the meeting of the Constituent Assembly of India, KT Shah and Brajeshwar Prasad demanded to include the words socialism and secularism in the preamble of the constitution. BR Ambedkar said at the time that the policies of the state and the social and economic behavior of society should be decided by the people according to the situations prevailing at that particular time. This cannot be mentioned in the constitution, it will destroy the very core of democracy. Subramanian Swamy used this same argument in his petition filed in the Apex court. He also adds that according to Ambedkar, what is suggested for the amendment is already present in the constitution. Although it is a legal case, the word secularism irritates those who think that secularism is nothing more than a way to caress minorities. This particular group also pronounces it as “sickular” to mock the word and its concept. Either way, it is impossible to erase India’s identity as a socialist and secular state.


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