This election has seen an overwhelming use of the word ‘secular’. It had been variously used as an accusation against Narendra Modi and the BJP as well as Congress’s claim to honour. The word has been transformed into an attack and a shield by politicians who have no real election platform. Secularism (or its converse as defined by our politicians, Communalism) cannot be the major agenda for any political party seeking votes. Yet, strangely, it is. Entire campaigns have been built around this word instead of focussing on any real agenda of growth or vision of future.
Secular means ‘not religious’. Secularism is defined as ‘the belief that religion should not play a role in Government, education, or other public parts of society”. However, as interpreted by politicians and others (including fringe activist outfits, some media and most people) it has come to mean either pro-Muslim or anti-Hindu. How else can you explain a headline (in a leading newspaper) that announces ‘Muslims came out to push up secular vote: Activists’. This headline is almost a deliberate opposite of the meaning of secularism. When the meaning of the word gives no place for religion in Government, how can a headline starting with and underlining one religion mean anything close to the word secular?
The garb of secularism is used to divide the country into increasingly tinier and tinier pockets and sow distrust. What the politicians have achieved is creating divisive feelings like: “I am secular, therefore I will fight against anyone opposed to my belief system”; “I am secular therefore I will ensure that people belonging to my religion are ‘we’ and everyone else is ‘them’ and untrustworthy”. By misusing the concept of secularism and creating minorities, politicians have bestowed a feeling of victimhood across people of all belief systems.
When reservations (and the minority status) were conceptualised in the Indian Constitution, they were meant to stay for a period of 10 years. It is getting to 70 years now and reservations are only increasing. Politicians want to divide the populace into such tiny pieces that there will be no majority voice to question or oppose them. As a first step towards this larger goal and vision, the perceived majority, people following the Sanatan Dharma, are made to feel guilty about their belief. Hindus are made to feel fearful and guilty about taking pride in their spiritual and religious beliefs. Stating that one is a Hindu is like displaying a stigma of intolerance.
Today, the concept of secularism is used to foster disharmony and free the Government of accountability for their performance (or lack of it) in important areas like safety, security, infrastructure, health, food etc. Secularism is the ultimate weapon of the policy of Divide and Rule.
Is India secular? This question can best be observed in facts:
» India is the third largest Muslim country in the world.
» India encompasses a large religious diversity (including Jainism, Buddhism, Judaism in addition to the oft listed Muslim, Sikh, and Christianity) and average Indians don’t really care what religion the person sitting next to them practises.
» Religion has not been a criterion for applying for or holding any post in private or inGovernment sector.
Are Hindus secular? One look at the state of Hindus in countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh – countries which were carved out of the same nation at the same time is enough to quieten the most vociferous and poisonous attack against Hindus.
Think about this: Do natural calamities like floods and famines care about religion? Do terrorists, bullets and bombs ask your religion before they attack? Do rail, road and air accidents ask your religion before happening? What would you rather have — food, shelter, clothing, safety, security, electricity, water, roads and jobs or distrust, disharmony, a feeling of persecution and false promises?
The hijacking of the word secularism and its interpretation by politicians is a linguisticscam of the same proportions as the 2G, 3G, CWG scams and with much greater implications. It is time to reject secularism and choose development. Where secularism is mire whereas development is flight. Move on, move up and move ahead!