(Sample Material) UPSC Mains Philosophy (Optional) Study Kit "Socio Political Philosophy (India in context of Secular State)"

Sample Material of UPSC Mains Philosophy (Optional) Study Kit

Topic: Socio Political Philosophy (India in context of Secular State)

Most of features of secular state are found in Indian state.

1) Preamble of constitution declares India a secular state and secularism has been declared as one of the basic feature (structure) of constitution.
2) Indian does not have any official religion.
3) Indian constitution prohibits all forms of discrimination based on religion only; that means it treats citizens equally whether they belong to any religion.
4) Indian constitution gives various religious freedom to its citizens.

Most of features of secular state are found in India. But Indian notion of secularism does not believe in separation of politics and religion.

According to critics of Indian secularism, India is not a secular state for many reasons.

1) due to absence of uniform civil code the relationship of state and individual are governed by religion (uniform criminal code but civil not e.g. marriage divorce system in accord to religion).
2) Indian constitution makes a discrimination between the majority educational institution and minority educational institution. If (article 30 amend) property of minority educational institution is inherited by state then compensation has to be paid if market rate but in case of majority educational institute, it will be decided by state.
3) In India, there is no separation between state and religion e.g. there are holidays on religious basis.
4) Political parties also use religious issues in election.
5) Various officials take oath in name of god.

Click Here for UPSC Mains Philosophy Study Material

Therefore by and large, India is secular state though there are some exceptions but most of these exceptions are to protect interest of minority. Some exceptions are really against Indian secularism and must be removed in a democratic way.

Gandhi’s View

Gandhi did not agreed with the western notion of secularism. He considered religion as a most vital aspect of life therefore not only politics but all aspects of life should he guided by religion therefore. Instead of using term ‘secularism’. He used the word Sarv Dharam Saman which means treating all religions equally under the influence of Vedant. Gandhiji also blieved that there is only one reality Satyanaranal various religions are the different paths to know this reality. In every creator the light of that ultimate reality is found therefore followers of all the religion are same in their essence. Similarly, all religions are similar in their essence they only differ in their rituals which is external.

Therefore, Gandhiji believed in the synthesis of politics and religion politics should be guided by principles of religion and as a response politics hence state should promote all religions. But, for Gandhiji rituals do not form core of religion. Core of religion is formed by its universal moral principles which are similar in all religions.

Nehru’s View

Nehru’s view on secularism is not similar to Gandhi’s view.

Nehru’s view on secularism were influenced from western notion of secularism. Therefore, he opposed synthesis of state and religion on various grounds.

1) The objectives of religion are extra worldly but objective of politics are this worldly.
2) Synthesis of religion and politics, in practice may lead to communalism.
3) Synthesis of religion and state may create problem for minority, because state may become instrument for dominants religious group.
4) According to Nehru, religion, is against scientific outlook .

Therefore be gave secondary importance to religion in his scientific humanism wherever he has supported religion he always supported on the basis of rationality. He believed that religion must be rationalized.

But though Nehru oppose role of religion in public sphere he support religious freedom of every individual. He was also very concerned about the rights of minority.

Secularism and Humanism

Secularism is a humanist idea because of various reasons

1. In humanism, human beings are the central concern, humanism emphasizes on human being irrespective of religion, race, caste, sex etc. Secularism also treats all human beings equally irrespective of their religion, this is the reason that ethics of humanism supports secularism.
2. Humanism rejects the existence of god and extra worldly authorities (realities). Secularism is also apathetic towards god and other supra natural realities.
3. Both Humanism and secularism are great supporters of morality but they support secular morality than religious morality.
4. Both humanism and secularism emphasize on this worldliness.
5. Both humanism and secularism support materialism. And their main concern is material development.
6. Both support rational thinking instead of faith. Both support scientific outlook and scientific knowledge.

Secular and theocracy

1) Secular and theocracy are completely different from one another. In theocracy, state has one official religion but in secularism state does not have any official religion i.e. all religions are equal in eyes of state.
2) In theocracy, ultimate sovereignty is vested in god but in secularism sovereignty vested in people. (exceptionally may found with monocracy).
3) In theocracy, religious texts are basis of governance but in secularism constitution is the source of governance.
4) Theocracy normally associated with monarchy and secularism is an important feature of democratic state.
5) In theocracy, there is absence of religious freedom for minority but in secularism religious freedom given to every citizen.
6) Theocratic state discriminates among its citizens on the basis of religion but secular state functions on the principle of equality as far as its citizens are concerned. Their religion does not decide their relation with the state.
7) In theocracy, freedom of speech and expression is limited, official religion of state can not be criticized. If somebody criticizes then blasphemy is a punishable offence.

In secular state, even an atheist person has equal right to speech and expression.


Therefore, secularism is a better system because it is in accordance with norm of civilized society, rationally it is more justified and gives more freedom to citizen.

Secularism and Communalism

Communalism is misuse of religion to fulfill vested interest therefore, faith or belief in one’s own religion does not make person a communal.

Communalism is exclusive in outlook, it is based on feeling of ‘we’ and ‘they’. The ideology of communalism believes that one’s own religion is the true religion and other religion are false therefore it is based on feeling of hatred as far as members of other religious community are concerned.

For a communal person, religion is not a faith’ but it is ‘a tool’ – to fulfill certain worldly objectives. A communal person gives more emphasis to rituals and orthodoxies i.e. external aspects of religion and neglects essence of religion.

According to Bipin Chandra – communalism develops in 3 statges.

Identity of Interest

When followers of particular religion believe that temporal interest is also identical. This is a beginning of communalism.

Difference of Interest

When followers of particular religion start believing that their interest are different from interest of followers of other religion.

Contradictory of Interest

When followers of one religion start believing that their interest are contradictory to the interest of members of other religion. This is highest stage of communalism.

Evils of communalism

1) Communalism is anti development like -

  • Foreign investment reduce
  • property damage in riots.
  • issue of elections diverged from development to issues of communalism viz. Mandir in India.

2) Minority normally suffer due to communalism because it creates atmosphere of fear.
3) Communalism is a hurdle in a nation building because it is a divisive force.
4) Communalism in its worst form results in communal violence, riots in which lives are lost.
5) Communalism is against constitutional religious freedom.
6) Communalism can’t be justified rationally i.e. antirational as it is based on emotions.

To overcome communalism and its evil effect:—

1) There should be strict laws to tackle communalism and they should be implemented rightly.
2) Pluralism in the society should be recognized.
3) Tolerance should be promoted, encouraged through mass media, or education channels.
4) Misuse of religion in politics should be strictly restricted.

Click Here for UPSC Mains Philosophy Study Material

<< Go Back to Main Page