Secularism a Comparison
Let us compare Indian secularism with that followed in other democratic governments.
Let us take the constitution of the United States.
- According to the U.S. Constitution the legislature cannot declare any religion as the official religion.
- The legislature cannot give preference to one religion.
- Neither the State nor religion can interfere in the affairs of one another.
The above point emphasize the fact that both Indian secularism and the US secularism are based on the practice of separating religion from the State.
While the US constitution advocates total non-interference by the State in matters pertaining to religion we find that the Indian constitution sometimes does intervene to do justice to the minority as we saw in the case of abolishing untouchability.
The Indian State is secular and works in various ways to prevent religious domination. The Indian Constitution guarantees Fundamental Rights that are based on secular principles.
- Fundamental Rights are sometimes violated.
- It is the duty of the state to prevent these violations.
- It is also the duty of every citizen to understand his rights and to safeguard himself against any violation.
- Citizens should raise their voices and take action when these violations take place.
Electrified Wall Divides People on Caste Lines
GREAT DIVIDE: A 600-metre-long wall separates Dalits from caste Hindus at Uthapuram village in Madurai district
At Uthapuram village near Ezhumalai in Madurai district, Tamil Nadu, caste continues to guide social relations.
There are about 2,000 families of Dalits, who outnumber every other caste, but they still face discrimination. Caste Hindus of the village have electrified a 600-metre-long wall. The wall is intended to block common entry points, thereby preventing the castes from mingling.
It has been there since 1990, but electricity is being passed in the night using iron rods since April 2008.
The electrification is meant to prevent the Dalits from breaking into the caste Hindu areas during the night. Dalits in Uthapuram village do not visit the teashops owned by caste Hindus. They are not allowed to enter streets dominated by a particular upper caste. They are denied space in village squares and community halls and access to burial grounds. During events like temple car festival, Dalits are not allowed to hold the ceremonial ropes. Access to common property resources is also being denied to the Dalits. Dalits in the village do not visit the teashops owned by caste Hindus.
Let us raise our voice against this kind of discrimination. We are all Indian with equal rights.