One country. Several beliefs. Countless testimonies. This, is the country I was born in. Although there are fallacies that exist in our ‘existing’ system, India still decently manages to uphold its status quo of being a secular country. Now, there is a very important difference that has to be kept in mind. Indian secularism is very different from the secularism practised in other countries, say- the European countries like France or Germany. Their understanding of secularism comes from the precedence of their language to the existing religions; and giving the due regards to the religious factions is not a very essential affair. But the asset of Indian secularism lies in the fact that it respects each and every religion, and seeks to unite its people through this simple gesture. It takes into consideration the customs and beliefs of the different communities, searches for a rational ground and then goes on to enact laws and legislations, cautious enough to not give an undue advantage to a particular kind.
But the question still remains the same. Despite the existing freedom on grounds of choice and religions, why are Indians in general so religiously intolerant? Why has India been a cradle of religious politics, a hotbed of so many riots that witnessed innocents getting slaughtered?
The answer lies in the inability to understand what a religion or a faith stands for. My personal belief is that the concept of faith was born in the first place to show to the people a correct way of life. Religion became a more lenient way to induce discipline rather than forcibly coercing it. Since it had a universal appeal, people in large multitude accepted it. In different places, different ideologies emerged. In different times, people found a newer set of necessities or found some of the existing stances to be too hard lined or out-dated or both. These led to newer religions or the existing religions giving birth to a set of factions. And this ‘evolution of faith’ has never stopped, till date. Better understanding gives us a realization that the primal purpose of religion is extremely simple, to find a way of life that suits the way one perceives it or understands it, and in the path the ‘brothers’ will follow.
Our Constitution’s take on secularism is very similar to the aforementioned understanding. But is this understanding perceived by most of the shareholders of the society and the country? Even if understood, is it respected? Are the people willing to come out of their egoist nutshells and try to find a consensus? The rhetorics have an ambition. The recent string events in some districts of Uttar Pradesh, makes our answers clear. India has long way to stand true to its beliefs that got sketched in a thing called ‘Constitution’. The question is whether we identify ourselves with purpose.