Our Constitution did not initially inscribe that India should be a secular state. It was after about three decades of independence, sometime in 1976, that the world "secular" was inserted in the preamble of the Constitution. But did that in any way help anybody deal with the crisis of communal conflicts that the Republic of India has been facing since its independence?
Spiritually speaking, secularism is the freedom to believe that God exists and that He is the Creator, the Provider, the Protector and indeed the Saviour of the world. May India set an example to the world by being a dynamic nation in which people and their leaders are neutral in matters of religion, neither supporting nor opposing any particular religious beliefs or practices.
The constitutional secularism has served mainly as a stick in the hands of our political leaders, who take sadistic pleasure in beating at will the religious communities, groups or institutions that do not practice or propagate ‘ancient tradition’ or ‘indigenous religion’. It is unfortunate that the militant Hindus have discovered in the uniform civil or common code yet another ammunition (and a more powerful one at that) to use against the minority communities. The different systems of personal laws had so far been recognized as legitimate in India and were even permitted to flourish. What has so suddenly necessitated our leaders to think of having a uniform civil code for India?
As one who left his ancestral religion to embrace Christianity, I am tempted to explain here why the non-Christians speak disparagingly of Christianity. But my God forbids me from doing so. However, it goes without saying that Christians, unlike Muslims in India, are not only a politically powerless minority but also are always in danger of being victims of the tyranny of the majority.
Come the next General Elections, and we will have a fresh lot of political leaders who will, I am sure, not only provide equal protection of the law for all citizens but will also ensure that there is no discrimination of persons on the basis of race, caste, creed, sex and religious affiliation, not to speak of place of birth, as in the cases of Mother Teresa, Sister Nivedita and Sonia Gandhi.
Taking advantage of this particular weakness of the Indians (the ability to hate and the unwillingness to love), the politically motivated Hindu leaders and scholars of our country have succeeded within the past few decades in creating the difference between ‘us’ (the Hindus) and ‘them’ (the Muslims and Christians). In the light of the recent political, social, cultural and religious realities, the so-called leaders are justifying the denigration and suppression of the minority communities by the majority community as is evident from the contents of the article under discussion.
If in a society the ‘caste Hindu’ who, regarding himself as of ‘higher caste’, hates the ‘untouchable’ who is his brother in religion, how can he love a Muslim or a Christian (from a ‘foreign religion’) living in the same society? To end communal hatred in India, we must seek help from the beyond.
Let me end here with these words of G.K. Chesterton: "The Bible tells us to love our neighbours, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people." The quotation is directly applicable to us in the Indian context.