Relevance of Nehruvian Secularism in present day India
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Relevance of Nehruvian Secularism in present day India

Nehruvian thoughts are more relevant in the country now, particularly in the backdrop of the dangers from religious superstition, obscurantism and fundamentalism.

To examine the Nehruvian legacy is to renew the fight against religious deformations in thought and practice. As one of the titans of the national movement and the architect of modern India, Nehru’s dynamic and towering leadership and progressive ideas richly deserve to be recalled and evaluated.

Nehru’s services were many sided and a discussion on this is required, particularly in the backdrop of the dangers from religious superstition, obscurantism and fundamentalism at the present moment.

One of the most important contributions of Jawaharlal Nehru was the firm anchoring of secularism as a core character of India polity.

Nehru believed that in a country like India, which has many faiths and religions, no real nationalism could be built except on the basis of secularity.

Noting that Nehru’s exposition of secularism did not mean an absence of religion, but putting religion on a different plane from that of normal political and social life, he said it was firmly rooted in an affirmation of social and political equality.

Nehru’s concept of secularism was to serve as an instrument of national integration, actively promoting social and political change in the direction of eliminating inequality.

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Nehru was the Chief architect of Indian development during 1947-64 and contributed to modern Indian ethos by stressing the importance of secularism. Jawaharlal Nehru was an ardent lover of secularism, sometimes he adjusted to political pressures but his basic approach to it remained unaltered.

To Nehru, India was a much the centre of Hinduism as a unique expression of a “Cultural multiplicity which lasted for thousand of years. ”

Nehru’s definition of secularism was four-pronged secularism meant:

  • Separation of religion from political, economic, social and cultural aspects of life, religion being treated as a purely personal matter.
  • Dissociation of the state from religion;
  • Full freedom to all religions and tolerance of all religions; and
  • Equal opportunities for followers of all religions and no discrimination and partiality on grounds of religion.

Thus, Nehru was a unique statesman, with an instinct for secularism. He strived for converting the country from the ‘cow dung age’ toAn age of science and technology.

He was opposed to superstitions, communalism and religious fanaticism. He always wanted that his countrymen should become Rational and secular in their attitudes.

Nehru did not want the state to be identified with any particular religion. So, Nehru strengthened his faith in secularism at the height.

Of the communal disturbances, he told the nation; “ We will not tolerate any communalism in the country and where  every citizen Has equal liberty and equal opportunity.”

Nehru was painfully aware of the fact that the use of word ‘religion’ causes confusion and interminable debate.

Here, Nehru did attempt a definition of religion, he ignored its communal manifestation and produced a definition.

He defined religion thus, “Probably it consists of the inner development of an individual, to the evolution of his consciousness in a certain direction which is considered good. What that direction is will be a matter of Debate but as for as I understand it, religion lays stress on this inner change and considers outward change as but projection of this inner development.”

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His belief in secularism was enriched by the emphasis on scientific analysis of the mundane order. This order cannot sustain for a long period of time unless it is based upon certain pillars. From his dissection of communalism, Nehru discovered that secularism was the sole response to the communal forces. Scientific life-style was its pragmatic base. When secularism was to be practiced, no other political system could be established except one which was a functional democracy. Democracy and secularism are therefore twin siblings. Yet another outstanding contribution of Nehru is the gift of the twin siblings to the nation. This is what makes him an exceptional figure in human history.

Secularism is also related to the other philosophical pillars of the human civilisation. These are the universal values of equality and liberty. He knew that no secular order can be sustained unless people from all streams of religious life enjoy equality and liberty of the highest form. This thought was manifest in his Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly.

Nehru applied secularism in the development of the human spirit and nation. He never used religion for votes. He articulated the humanistic values inherent in religious equality. His secular ideas flow from the great Indian tradition; hence those are not anti-religion but receive sustenance from humanism and universal ethics.

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In contemporary India, his ideas on secularism are of utmost relevance when new clouds of fears, apprehensions and uncertainties are gathering over the nation’s social horizon. In the present time, when there is an attempt to rewriting history, Nehru relevance holds greater importance. The Nehruvian model of secularism is the only solution in safeguarding foundations of democratic India.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NEWSD and NEWSD does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Ravi Meena is an Assistant Professor at Government PG College, Kota, Rajasthan.

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