Pseudo-Secularism

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.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Secularism should not be allowed to become threat to national security

Author: Prof. Balraj Madhok
Publication: Organiser
Date: January 24, 2005

Introduction: Even when Islamic theocracy had become the rule in its worst form during the regime of Aurangzeb, the Hindu swarajya set up by Shivaji did not discriminate between the Hindus and Muslims in the name of religion. The same was true of the Sikh kingdom set up by Ranjit Singh after 800 years of Muslim rule over Lahore and west Punjab, which now constitute Pakistan.

A lot of fetish is made in India about secularism. Like socialism in the days of Pandit Nehru, secularism has become a sacrosanct word but unlike socialism, very few people in India understand what secularism really means. This word came in vogue in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries in the wake of Renaissance and Reformation to impart courage to the thinking people in Europe to stand up against the Pope and domination of the church, not only in matters pertaining to religion and spirit, but also those pertaining to the State and political affairs.

The popular meaning of secularism in those days was separation of State and the church and non-discrimination between the citizens on the basis of religion and way of worship. As time passed, the concept of secularism also began to be redefined. The concept of secularism prevalent in the West, including the UK and USA, in theory and practice, has come to mean three things which are now considered to be the basic postulates of secularism. These are:

* Non-discrimination between citizens on the basis of religion.

* Uniform laws for all citizens.

* Equality of all citizens before law.

The UK, which is the model for Indian political elite, has now come to be considered a typical example of secularism. UK is still a declared Christian State. One of the titles of its ruling monarch is ‘Defender of Faith’ and all important State functions, including the coronation of the King and opening of Parliament, are preceded by Anglican prayers under the guidance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Anglican church. But unlike its pre-secular period, when Roman Catholics could not get a government job or a seat in the prestigious universities of Oxford and Cambridge, now the government of UK does not discriminate between not only Roman Catholic and Protestant but also between Christian and non-Christian citizens, including the people belonging to different sects of the ‘commonwealth of Hinduism’, Islam and Judaism. The common laws of UK apply to all of them and no citizen can claim separate laws for himself in any matter because of his religion. As a natural corollary of this, all citizens of UK are equal before law. The same is true more or less of other European States.

India is one country in the world in which no non-Islamic state has ever been theocratic in the sense in which Christian states were theocratic before the advent of secularism. Muslim states have been theocratic since the advent of Islam and continue to be so till today. The Vedic concept that ‘God is one but wise men call Him by many names’ and He can be approached by many ways, does not permit any kind of discrimination between the people who call God by different names and follow different paths and ways of worship. That is why sarva panth sambhav has been guiding the conduct of the Hindu states and rulers all through history. Even when Islamic theocracy had become the rule in its worst form during the regime of Aurangzeb, the Hindu swarajya set up by Shivaji did not discriminate between the Hindus and Muslims in the name of religion. The same was true of the Sikh kingdom set up by Ranjit Singh after 800 years of Muslim rule over Lahore and west Punjab, which now constitute Pakistan. The use of the word Dharma for religion is not only incorrect but also mischievous. There is no word for Dharma, which refers to a code of conduct and value system and not loyalty to any particular God or book or way of worship, as seen in Persian, Arabic or European languages. As best, religion can be translated as panth. That is why in the official translation of Indian Constitution, the word secularism has been translated as sarva panth sambhava and not sarva Dharma sam bhava.

As things stand, the Indian State today is anything but secular. It does not fulfil any of the basic postulates of secularism. Articles 30 and 370 of the Constitution which discriminate between Indian citizens on the basis of religion make the Indian Constitution a promoter of communalism, instead of secularism. Article 44 of the Constitution which enjoins upon the State to have uniform laws for all citizens of India, has not been implemented so far, in spite of repeated reminders by the Supreme Court of India. There is no reason why a common civil code and uniform criminal law should not apply to all Indians, including the Muslims. Goa, for instance, continues to follow the law and practice followed by the Portuguese government before its liberation and integration in the Indian Union as a separate state. In the absence of uniform laws for all citizens, equality of all citizens before law is not possible. Therefore, it is time that India is made a secular State in the true sense of the term, as accepted and practiced all over the non-Islamic world.

To make things worse, secularism in its distorted form is being used to weaken internal and external security of our country. Quotas are being demanded and given in the matter of recruitment to security forces in the name of secularism and traditional Indian symbols and slogans which boost the martial spirit of the soldiers are being discarded to placate the Muslims. Do the policy makers realise what havoc such policies can play at the time of a crisis and war, particularly with our main enemy, Pakistan, and will remain so as long as it exists? According to Islamic fundamentals of millat and kuffer, Dar-ul-Islam and Dar-ul-Harb and Jehad, no true Muslim can co-exist with a non-Muslim even if they happen to be real brothers or sisters. This is specifically mentioned in a Quranic aayat. According to these fundamentals, it is the religious duty of a Muslim to side with a Dar-ul-Islam country like Pakistan when it invades a Dar-ul-Harb country like India. Even the Soviet Union which claimed to be a model secular State in the world from which not only religion but also the belief in God had been banished, could not secularise its Muslim soldiers when they came in contact with and got influenced by the Islamist Jehadis and deserted in thousands, which became a major cause for the debacle of Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

It is time, therefore, that the Indian secularists, apologists of Islam and policy makers face the facts, draw lessons from past history and recent experience and stop undermining national security in the name of secularism. They should not forget that India was partitioned in 1947 on the basis of religion because Mr Jinnah, the president of Muslim League, declared in his presidential address at the annual session of Muslim League held at Lahore in March 1940, that no Muslim could co-exist with a Hindu in a composite State. That was the crux of the resolution of the Muslim League which demanded Partition of the country. They should also not forget that not only the civil services but also armed forces and prisoners in jails were divided and exchanged on the basis of religion which lay at the root of Partition.

In this context, I would like to remind India’s policy makers, particularly the Defence Minister, about the experiences in war with Pakistan. I was an eyewitness to the desertion by almost all Muslim soldiers and officers of the army of Jammu & Kashmir state during the Pak invasion in October 1947. As vice-chairman of the Study Team appointed by the Government of India in 1967, along with other members of the team, I had the opportunity to visit most of the military cantonments and interact with officers of the Defence Forces, including the three Chiefs of Staff. During my visit to Pune headquarters of the Southern Command, which is in-charge of Indo-Pak border in Rajasthan and Gujarat sectors, I asked the top officer in command about his experience with Muslims in the border areas. The officer first tried to evade the question but when I insisted on a candid answer, his short and crisp reply was: “Exceptions apart, we can trust no Muslim.”

Things have become worse now. A network of Islamic madarsas has come up all along the Indo-Pak border and also on the border of Bangladesh and Nepal, where the new generations of Muslims are being indoctrinated in Jehad and other fundamentals of Islam. The impact of these teachings on the mental makeup of students and their loyalty to India can be well imagined. It is, therefore, urgent and important that the security of the country is not endangered by subordinating considerations of security to false notions about secularism that has become an euphemism for the policy of Muslim appeasement and vote-bank politics.

(The author is former Member of Parliament and can be contacted at J-394, Jagannath Madhok Marg, Shankar Road, New Delhi-110 060.)

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