ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Electoral Alliances and Majority versus Minority Communalism

The discourse and politics of equidistance from majority communalism and minority communalism is flawed because it equates two unequal concepts. The Indian nationalist perspective on this equidistant stance focuses more on attacking minority communalism because it is perceived as a potential secessionist threat to India’s territorial integrity, while majority communalism—although it could develop into fascism—does not threaten India’s territorial integrity. The secular fundamentalist perspective, through its theoretical rejection of religious groups, ends up, in practice, reinforcing the existing power of the majority communal group. The perspective of institutionalised Hindu communalism rejects the equivalence approach on the grounds that majoritarian communalism pervades multiple institutions in India and increases the vulnerability of India’s religious minorities. It can only be defeated from an egalitarian perspective by recognising the social, cultural and political power of religion.

God as a Litigant: Examining the Contradictions and Biases of the Ayodhya Verdict

The Supreme Court of India’s judgment on the Ayodhya dispute enables the triumph of a majoritarian claim—backed by a long, venomous communal campaign—over minority rights. The fact that the majority Hindu community managed to successfully claim a minority religion's sacred place purely based on faith and belief comes out luridly in the judgment. While the god or deity as a juridical person may have legal validity, filing a suit in god’s name and projecting god as a litigant has the potential to bring in biases and conflicts.

Secular, Secularism and Non-translations

This paper traces the conceptual-linguistic journey of the term “secular” in India and shows how its entry into any discussion was accompanied by questions of ambivalence about equivalence. An anxiety around its foreignness; or its inefficacy by being both excessive and inadequate as a word can be traced through multiple sites. It proliferates, meaning many things and nothing at all. What makes it so unsettled, so polyphonic, and therefore ready to be seized? Does that have to do with being neither fully embraced nor ignored, on the threshold of language, as it were?

Secularism, the State and Muslim Personal Law

Governing Islam: Law, Empire, and Secularism in Modern South Asia by Julia Stephens, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (South Asian Edition), 2019; pp xiv + 220, price not indicated. Divorcing Traditions: Islamic Marriage Law and the Making of Indian Secularism by Katherine Lemons, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2019; pp x + 232, price not indicated.

Nehru’s Enlightened Middle Way

Who Is Bharat Mata? On History, Culture and the Idea of India: Writings by and on Jawaharlal Nehru, edited and with an introduction by Purushottam Agrawal, Speaking Tiger, New Delhi, 2019; pp 474, ₹359.

Understanding Citizenship and Refugees’ Status in India

The recent Rohingya crisis in South Asia raised questions regarding the refugee policies of the Indian state, which seem to take a very diplomatic position on the refugee problem. This article seeks to argue that India’s kindness for some refugee communities and ignorant behaviour for Muslim refugees has raised a doubt on its way of refugee dealings, and has posed question on the very secular face of the Indian state. How the Supreme Court as well as the Indian government has viewed and handled the refugee problem has been discussed in detail in this article.

Research Radio Ep 7: Who is Afraid of Pakistan’s Aurat March?

In this episode, we speak to Afiya Shehrbano Zia about Pakistan's Aurat March and debates between secular and right-wing women's groups.

The Future of Progressive Politics in India

The challenge for progressives is not mobilising those who already feel an affinity with the core values enshrined in India’s Constitution and believe in a liberal, secular, and democratic India. The challenge is to convince the silent majority of India which is either not unduly bothered about the threat posed by Hindutva or feels that these very values somehow undermine their identity and culture.

Who Is Afraid of Pakistan’s Aurat March?

Pakistan’s women are marching against patriarchy, but what is their destination and who is standing in their way? The Aurat March of 2019 faced severe backlash from both conservative as well as like-minded quarters, on account of some hard-hitting slogans and jabs raised against prevalent masculinist social norms. These have brought to the fore some paradoxes within feminist politics, which merit resolution for the sake of the emergence of stronger feminist politics in Pakistan.

Muslims, Affirmative Action and Secularism

Religion-based preferential treatment in the services of the state is generally argued to be in contradiction with secularism. As a result, the Indian state has relied on a non-preference, non-discrimination framework to address the issues of backwardness and under-representation of Muslims. This article attempts to partially reconcile the contradiction between religion-based preferential treatment and secularism, and it is argued that the determination of welfare policies for religious minorities, particularly Muslims within the non-preference, non-determination framework, either has to be justified in the public philosophy of the state or social justice has to be given a relative preference to secularism, especially when the policies formulated within the non-preference, non-discrimination framework have not proven to be effective in targeting the relative backwardness of Muslims.

A Blasphemy Law is Antithetical to India's Secular Ethos

Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which is an Indian variant of the blasphemy law, violates the secular character of Constitution.

Sandwiched Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru’s tryst with secularism and communal politics may be enumerated through a critical rereading of the religious apprehensions expressed by the Christian community over the question of their right to propagation. Was Indian secularism an effective ideological substitute to communal politics or merely a tactical tool for achieving political gains during Nehru’s times? Nehru’s vision of secularism, in having to negotiate the politics of Hindu fundamentalism as well as Congress majoritarianism, was forced to accommodate the flavours of a majoritarian cultural climate with some preferential treatment to Hindu rights.

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