By Syed Ali Mujtaba, Edited By Adam Rizvi, The India Observer: At a time when the leaders of the Indian National Congress are in Dharam Chintan deciding to take part or not to take part in the inaugural ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on January 22, 2024.
The Congressmen are facing a moral dilemma if they do not take part in the inauguration they may lose Hindu votes and may be branded as anti-national. To resolve this dilemma, congressmen should revise its tallest leader Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision of Secular India.
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To Nehru secularism is an ideology that implies the separation of religion from the state. The constitution of India contains Nehru’s philosophy on a religious neutral state in great detail. According to Nehru Secularism means equal protection by the state to all religions and not to favor one religion at the expense of others. Nehru’s vision of secularism opposed the domination of any religion on the state. He advocated that the state should not adopt any particular religion as the state religion.
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Nehru’s vision of secularism is rooted in his emphasis on political and social equality of all religions. His idea of secularism was each religion should have an exclusive identity of its own and should live in perfect harmony. He did not imply a hostile relationship between religions. He envisaged some degree of respect and freedom should be accorded to all religions without any interference from the state.
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According to Nehru state should be impartial in religious matters. The state should not associate with any religious faith. Nehru was opposed to the direct relation of the government with any religion.
Nehru was not in favor of complete separation between religion and state and favored the state’s interference in religion only to bring reforms if needed in the religious practices.
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According to Nehru secularism means complete opposition to all kinds of communalism. He suggested the success of secularism depends on the attitude of the majority community towards the minority community. He said minority communalism can be tolerated due to their insecure feelings, but majority communalism cannot be tolerated because that will be harmful to peaceful coexistence in society.
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For Nehru secularism was not only a socio-political theory but a mental approach of the individuals living in the society. He emphasized religious freedom and tolerance in society, to promote the idea of unity in diversity.
In 1929, Nehru drafted the policies of the Congress and a future Indian nation where he outlined the concept of secularism in India. Nehru promoted the idea of the secular nation in the 1937 provincial elections that facilitated the Congress to sweep the elections, and to form governments in several provinces of India.
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With the inauguration of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya, it is seen that there is official interference of the state favoring a particular religion in India. It also exposed the well-established conspiracy of majoritarian communalism in India. There have been many incidences of Hindu radicalization which is posing a threat to the composite unity of the country.
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The inauguration of Ram Temple in Ayodhya points towards growing feelings of insecurity among the Muslim minority in India. They are finding it difficult to adjust to the new realities where open preaching of majoritarian communalism is being practiced.
In this context an anonymous social media post is circulating that says, Muslims should not travel in trains from January 14 to January 30. The BJP is planning to bring lakhs of people from across the country to Ayodhya through trains and the fear is that anti-Muslim slogans may be raised to provoke the Muslims. Apart from trains, free buses are arranged to take people to Ayodhya. This may light the fire of communal riots in the country.
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All this is happening in view of the Lok Sabha election in March 2024. The government in power is launching its blitzkrieg election campaign with the inaugural function of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. To cap it all there is no attempt being made to alley the insecure feelings of the Muslim community in India.
Ram Mandir’s inauguration certainly reflects upon the changing nature of the Indian state.
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