Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Perverting secularism

by Rajeev Srinivasan

The Orwellian distortion of perfectly fine and normal words is a trademark of Marxists everywhere, and of Nehruvian Stalinists in India. For instance, Marxists specialised in taking wonderful words like 'democratic' and 'republic' and applying them to their fascist hellholes like East Germany and North Korea and China. They thereby violated those words. Nomenclature terrorism, I suppose this could be termed.

Similarly, Nehruvian Stalinists in India have taken a word that is only meaningful in the nightmarish world of medieval Europe and have applied it in an inappropriate context. Medieval Europe was dominated by an aggressive, violent Christian church, which indulged in pogroms and continuous warfare. It became imperative to get its hands off the levers of power. Thus the concept of secularism was born: a separation of Church and State, so that religious considerations could be excluded from civil affairs and public education.

However, the so-called 'secularism' rampant in India is a perversion of that reasonable idea: in India it is contrived to mean the active involvement of the State in supporting certain religions (Islam, Christianity and Marxism) and oppressing others (Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism). Religion has become the primary consideration in all sorts of civil affairs: in anything from the reporting of news to running educational institutions.

'Secularism' in the Indian context is very similar to what Bat Ye'or calls, compellingly, dhimmitude. This is the state of mind in which non-Muslims, although not under Muslim rule, accept at face value Islam's claims about its superiority and its right to traumatise non-Muslims. In other words, they are bullied into accepting second-class citizenship or dhimmi status, just as though Muslims were in fact in power.

Dhimmitude, Bat Ye'or claims, is behind the apparent inability of many European States to manage their aggressive Muslim groups.

This is the secret of the animal called 'secularism' in India, too: it is dhimmitude, only it is with respect not only to Islam, but it has been extended to its Semitic cousins Christianity and Marxism as well.

This discriminatory 'secularism' has become the State dogma in Congress-run India, and it is regaining momentum now that old war-horses of the Nehru-family-retainer class are in high positions again. It is astounding that one man, Nehru, could single-handedly wreak so much havoc.

I was astonished to read in Arvind Lavakare's column 'BJP needs killer instinct' that an attempt to actually define secularism as 'equal respect to all religions' was defeated by the Congress in the Rajya Sabha after it had cleared the Lok Sabha in 1978. The Congress clearly does not define 'secularism' as equal respect to all religions, but only to selected ones. All religions are equal, but some are more equal than others. Orwell would approve.

This is deeply ironic because even the true definition of secularism, that is, separation of Religion and State, is superfluous in India, because none of the Indic religions interferes in the affairs of the State. There is a profound and deep civilisational tolerance inherent in India, which has been one of the reasons for its great success as a culture.

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