Though secularism has been pronounced as part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution by the Supreme Court, an ambiguity about its meaning and practical implication continues to exist, said Vice President Hamid Ansari in New Delhi on Friday.
Releasing a book by former Union Home Secretary Madhav Godbole, Mr Ansari emphasised that the reasons for the ambiguity should be addressed to ensure a secular society.
“One reason is the selective orientation given by public figures, while, another reason being the sociological perception about the relevance of secularism in a society characterised by pervasive religious groups,” he said.
The book titled ‘Secularism: India at a crossroads’, is published by Rupa PUblications.
Quoting from the book, the Vice President said “For a country to be secular, it’s not enough that its Constitution is secular and its government respect all religions alike or it’s equidistant from all religions, it’s equally necessary that the society is secular and its individual citizens are secular too,” he read.
Agreeing with the author that there is a lack of will on the part of central, state governments and political parties to strive for secularism as a way of life, Mr Ansari felt that a great deal needs to be done in this regard.
“A great deal remains to be done if secularism is to become a way of life in India. This will be possible only if there is real political, social and intellectual commitments and the state, central governments, the political parties, civil society, and the media strive for it,” Mr Ansari quoted the book.
However, he added, “This I conceive, is yet to come.”
Describing the book as a volume of encyclopedia on secularism, Mr Ansari said that it is relevant to the public.
“This book is timely, and has considerable relevance to the public discourse,” said Mr Ansari.
Speaking on the occasion, journalist and former member of Parliament H.K. Dua said that the country is passing through a difficult phase and a culture of ‘imposition’ is being promoted.
“Mediocrity is being promoted in the name of majoritarianism and the minorities are being alienated,” he said.
Mr Godbole, author of several books, expressed hope that his suggestions like setting up a constitutional commission on secularism and separating religion from politics will help to begin new conversations on secularism.
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