How D in the DNA of Bharat stands for democracy and diversity


The politics of selectivism under the garb of secularism is a bane of Bharatiya politics. Perhaps, secularism is the most overused, misused, abused, often ridiculed and politicised word in the Constitution. The current concept of secularism along with all its grammatical variations is a tool to camouflage selectivism. Not only is the concept of secularism misused in Bharat, but even the myth of constitution makers vouching for the word secular in the Constitution is spread by the propaganda machinery. In fact, there was no mention of the word secular in the Preamble of the Constitution when initially drafted. The Constituent Assembly didn’t agree to include the word in the original constitution.

BR Ambedkar himself opposed the inclusion stating that the Constitution had inherent principles of secularism and it would be redundant to include the word explicitly. The State’s involvement in religious matters was inherent in values as well as articles of the Constitution. However, in 1976, when the entire opposition was behind bars in the darkest days of Emergency, the word ‘secular’ was introduced as an explicit part of the Preamble of the Constitution. Thus, the word ‘secular’ which was outrightly rejected to not be a part of the Constitution by the architects of the Constitution was later forcefully included when Bharat was not functioning as a democracy per se. As a result, the concept of secularism is still used by the same undemocratic forces to spread hysteria, communal hatred and selective agenda which creates broad fissures in society.

File image of BR Ambedkar. Wikimedia Commons

The Western political concept of secularism is different from the way it is preached and practised in Bharat. In the US, the president takes oath on the Bible while in both houses of the British parliament, there is a practice of reciting Christian prayers before the opening of sessions in both houses. The practice of reciting Bhagavad Gita or any other pious Bharatiya scripture for constitutional oath is unheard of.

Though the political line around secularism is blurry, the concept of equal respect for all religions is engraved in the samskriti (civilisational ethos) of Bharat. The Bharatiya rulers followed the philosophy of “ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti”, meaning there is only one truth and learned persons call it by many names, is an essential element of Bharatiya samskriti. Also, it is part of our samskriti to celebrate diversity. We treat the whole world as one family without discrimination. The philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ epitomises our inclusive approach.

The non-interference of the state in religion can also be seen in multiple discourses of our history. Bharat never celebrated theocracy. Even in the Arthashastra, there is clear concept of secular state where there is a distinct demarcation of state and religion The vested interest-driven intellectual lobby, which hallucinates of Western concept and its imposition in Bharat don’t even understand the basic philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' or 'ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti' and preach secularism to the people of Bharat. They cannot differentiate between Western and Bhartiya inclusiveness. Bharatiya Samskriti is about ‘isha vasyamidaṁ sarvaṁ’, i.e., there is one divinity in all. The Western ideology is about ‘All are One’ but our philosophy says ‘All is one’. We celebrate divinity in diversity.

In the past year, on multiple incidences, the lobby of pseudo-intellectuals have raised hue and cry based on one-sided propaganda and agenda-driven narrative. These pseudos, while raising the issue of disruption of Friday namaz in Gurgaon, deliberately hide that the protest was not against the offering of namaz but against offering it on public property instead of mosques. These pseudo-intellectuals while criticising the PM on calling out the barbarity of Aurangzeb focus only on passing him off as a hero. These same pseudo-intellectuals, while blaming the government for the Covid-19 second wave, never praise it for getting the country back in shape within six months of those tragic times. These self-declared intellectuals, while raising the issue of farm laws and farmer protest never highlighted the benefit farm laws aimed to provide to more than 100 million small farmers.

The same Left-branded intellectuals who had massive burns looking at the ‘Kashi extravaganza’ fail to accept the fact that temple funds are managed by the government while other places of worship of other religions aren’t. These pseudo intellectuals also fail to appreciate that the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya is going to be constructed with the daan (voluntary contribution) of samaj. These are the same self-realised intellectuals who never raise the issue of Islamic extremism because of their narrative of minority appeasement. The very word ‘blasphemy’, which is alien to Bharat, and is synonymous to Abrahamic faiths, is used to malign Bharat while sparing the very fundamentals of Abrahamic faiths which preach it.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes part in 'Bhoomi Pujan' for the construction of Shree Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir, in Ayodhya. PTI

The self-declared intellectuals argue that secularism in Bharat is a pathway to peace. However, if truth be told, secularism in Bharat has been a pathway to selectivism. We can trace selectivism and discrimination against Hindus under the garb of secularism right from Independence till 2014. In the social reforms, major reforms were brought in the majority community, while the archaic evil practices of minorities remained untouched. The personal laws of only Hindus were amended and not of any other minority. The Hindu temples were brought under state control while mosques and churches had full autonomy to manage their affairs. Even when the court tried to strike down an archaic religious practice like in the Shah Bano case, the government of the day overturned it by passing a law.

The government even remained mute during the entire exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. Even till today the wounds of Kashmiri Pandits remain unhealed. The Places of Worship Act was even imposed to prevent Hindus from reclaiming their own ancestral holy places and heritage sites. All this was done under garb of secularism and not one of the Left-branded intellectuals who beat their chest in the name of secularism questioned the outright discrimination of the state against the Hindu community.

Kashmiri Pandits. AP

After 2014, when the Hindu community has become assertive for its right and all political parties are falling in line, these pseudo-intellectuals have turned to repeated “democracy khatre mein hai” propaganda. Thus, today, if the Indian National Congress, Samajwadi Party or Aam Aadmi Party reaches out to Hindus, they feel unnerved. There is a need to define secularism in the context of Bharat. As I mentioned earlier that there was never a theocratic state in Bharat, one need not apply secularism to our polity. A state while making a policy or implementing a scheme has to be secular as defined by various European thinkers in the past. However, a person heading the state while being secular in outlook, has the right to follow, practice and demonstrate his religious belief. So when our Prime Minister performs Ganga Aarti or Bhumi Pujan et al, he is not being communal as he is often accused of by the Leftists and left-over Congress. This dichotomy needs to be resolved once and for all and the epidemic called secularism needs to be eradicated at the earliest.

The wrong question which these self-declared intellectuals are repeatedly asking is how Bharatiya democracy will thrive without the secular ethos. In fact, the question they should be worrying more about is how will they survive without selectivism under the banner of secularism. The sole reason for this is that the Bharatiya state since time immemorial has thrived on the principles of democracy. Numerous sovereign republics have been identified in ancient Bharat with democratic traditions. The testament of it can even be clearly found in the Arthashastra. The principles of democracy are imbibed in the samskriti of Bharat. In Bharat, secularism is not a mere word but a living principle we thrive upon. In Bharat we celebrate diversity. If these so-called, self-declared, pseudo-intellectuals remove their Abrahamic/Western glasses they can imbibe the principle of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' as well.

To highlight the celebration of diversity in Bharat, Rabindranath Tagore has rightly remarked: “To feel unity in diversity, to establish unity amidst variety — this the underlying Dharma of Bharat. Bharat does not regard difference as hostility, she does not regard the other as enemy.” He further stated, “The Hindu, the Buddhist, the Muslim and the Christian will not fight each other and die in Bharat — here they will find a meeting point (samanjasya). That meeting point will not be non-Hindu but very specifically Hindu. However foreign may be her body parts may be, her life and spirit will be Bharat.”

Tagore emphasised on how the Hindu philosophy was all accommodating and celebrated diversity. Thus, coming 2022, such intellectuals should be worried about their existential crises rather than lecturing people about “democracy khatre mein hai” because democracy and diversity in Bharat is part of its samskriti which is both valued and cherished.

The writer is advisor, VESIM Literati Festival, Mumbai, Khajuraho Literature Festival and Prabuddha Bharat, Belagavi. Views expressed are personal.

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How D in the DNA of Bharat stands for democracy and diversity
How D in the DNA of Bharat stands for democracy and diversity
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