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Secularism Indian vs. American

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Secularism means no one religion is supreme in the government’s eye. Every religion is equally important, as every religion is accepted equally. Government has nothing to do with the religion. They provide support in terms of money to every religion equally like in case of Mecca’s visit for Muslims and Kailash Mansarovar yatra supports for Hindus. Secularism is mentioned in Indian constitution’s 42nd amendment which was originally missing in the constitution. It is added in the preamble to the constitution. The laws of constitution make India a plural society where one can practice religion its own choice. Indian constitution under Article 25 provides the choice of practice religion separately and privately. None is pressurized to follow other’s foot step. State has nothing to do with the matter of religion as India is a secular country who never enforces the one religion’s supremacy on the other religion like Hinduism over Islamism in India. The state doesn’t interfere in any religious matter. Indian constitution provides two things to make India secular under preamble and Article 25 as a fundamental right to every citizen of India.

Comparison of Indian and American Secularism

Both the countries are known for vibrant democracy where one is largest democracy of world and another is oldest democratic nation of the world. The constitution of both countries is solid foundation of state which makes both countries a place to practice religion as private affairs of the people of both the countries. Both countries allow its citizen to follow their own foot step separately. In both countries the kind of discrimination prevails like racist against black Americans and caste system domination in India which is racism on itself.

As per the 1st US constitution, implemented in 1791- Congress will make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; abridging freedom of speech, or of the press; of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. As above it is stated by the American constitution the key word here is free exercise of religion. It is 1st constitutional amendment which made the sectarian wars that had happened in Europe and domination of churches. Even in many cases US courts made number of decisions against religious community rights in the US Supreme court in the famous case Reynolds vs. US. In this case the rights of religion are kept free to choose their own. In the same way the Indian constitution the 42nd Amendment act where parliament changed the constitutional word from “socialist” to “socialist and secular” were inserted. So now the Indian preamble opens with “WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into SOVERIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR REPUBLIC and secure to all its citizens…..”

In the constitution of India, Article 15 says— The state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, and place of birth or any of them. No citizen shall on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject of any disability, liability or condition with regard to – Access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment ; or The use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of state funds or dedicated to the use of general public.

Nothing in the article shall prevent the state from making any special provision for women and children. Nothing in this Article or in clause (2) of article 29 shall prevent the state from making any special provisions for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for schedule caste and the schedule tribe.

This is just the first of several clauses dealing with “religion, race, caste, and sex, place of birth “etc….in the Indian constitution and it’s immediately apparent that the intent and the structure of Indian constitution are quite different from American version. In the constituent assembly felt obliged not just to establish general laws but to make specific statements regarding actual religious practices and communities. Untouchability was banned (Article-17); discrimination over access to water was banned; discrimination in public places such as hotels and restaurants were banned. From the beginning the Indian constitution makers like, Ambedkar, Patel, and Nehru understood traditional religious practices and values to the major impediments to the kinds of modernizing, integrating the social reforms they wanted and the constitution reflects that focus.

They were not bothered by the American idea of the “separation of church and state”. In India’s case, religion is so constantly present in everyday life and so powerful in the social order that the concept doesn’t really make sense. The state shall intervene in religious matters to guarantee, for instance, that all caste of Hindus have the right to enter the temples. The Indian constitution is an activist and reformist constitution. It is also incremental—some of the changes desired would not have been accepted by most Indians in 1948.

Whatever couldn’t be included in the“Fundamental right for practical reasons was relegated to a special section of the constitution indicating the “Directive principles of state policy” (Part-Ιv). These are the essentially suggestion for future legislators. In the same way one of the famous Articles is Article 44 “Uniform civil code for the citizens- the state shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India. Almost 70 years passed but nothing much has happened regarding the civil codes. Directive principles like Article 44 solve the question of the constitutional assembly’s intent that digs so many debates in the U.S. but otherwise they don’t seem to matter much.

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