India has ‘positive secularism’ unlike Turkey which has banned hijabs in public places, petitioners

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India has ‘positive secularism’ unlike Turkey which has banned hijabs in public places, petitioners

  • Karnataka High Court argued that the Indian Constitution is ‘positive secularism’, unlike Turkey which has ‘negative secularism’, where the State says that nobody can display their religious identity in public and the ban on hijab in public places was upheld by the constitutional courts there.
  • Indian secularism is positive where the State plays an enabler role for the exercise of fundamental rights and the religious freedoms of all communities.

What is secularism?

  • Secularism means the separation of religion from political, economic, social and cultural aspects of life, religion is treated as a purely personal matter.
  • It is the principle of separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institutions and religious dignitaries.
  • With the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution of India (1976), the Preamble to the Constitution asserted that India is a “secular” nation.

Western Secularism

  • Here the concept denotes the separation of religion from state.
  • It mandates that the government will have nothing to do with religion and religion is a private matter.

Indian notion of secularism:

  • Indian secularism is based on the principle of equal respect to all religions and principled distance from all religions.
  • However, in a multi-diverse country like India, the State is mandated to support all religions equally and provide for certain benefits to the minority communities.
  • Secularism will continue to guide us in our public policy but has to be done in a rational manner.

Why Indian secularism is called Positive Secularism:

  • Indian philosophy of secularism is related to “Sarva Dharma Sambhava” (literally it means that destination of the paths followed by all religions is the same, though the paths themselves may be different) which means equal respect to all religions.
  • This concept, embraced and promoted by personalities like Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi is called ‘Positive secularism’ that reflects the dominant ethos of Indian culture.
  • India does not have an official State religion.
  • However, different personal laws - on matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, alimony varies with an individual’s
  • Indian State is neither irreligious nor anti-religious. It treats all religions equally irrespective of their strength.
  • Indian secularism is not an end in itself but a means to address religious plurality and sought to achieve peaceful coexistence of different religions.