Monday, March 12, 2012

Secularism – A leash or shackle in Bharat’s neck? Part 2 - Secularization of India

Since there is no philanthropy involved in imperialistic politics, the British applied whatever governance model/laws that they followed in Britain to their Indian colony. Indiscriminate slave trade was conducted in India by East India Company until it was made unlawful in Britain in 1807. Similarly, secularism was introduced to India in the second-half of 19th century as it became the governance model in Britain. For the British rulers, secularism ensured that they are not entangled in the historical burden of Hindu-Muslim social tension (even though they used this to make political gains), whereas for the Indian intellectual elite of the 19th century, which was a creation of the British rule, this is an opportunity to grow their power and influence for its making a departure from medieval (Islamic) polity in which the state was considered more or less the private property of the ruler.

The first secular act of British Government in India was the Religious Endowments Act in 1863, which appropriated the rents and produce of lands granted mainly for the support of Hindu temples. A similar act introduced for Muslim religious properties and trusts – conceded the Indian Muslims’ right to establish Wakfs and keep it separate from the state appropriation. It is important to note that there was hardly any Christian church property in India at that time.

Another secular act that had universal application for all Indians was the Child Marriage Restraint Act introduced in 1929. In addition to these laws, the British government of India codified and enacted various laws; separate for Hindus and Muslims, mainly in the realm of financial transactions.

The true secularization of India, especially in the sense of “Christianization of India without Church”, happened under the leadership of the first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru (JLN). A secularized version of Hindu law was codified and enacted into law (Hindu Marriage Act (1955), Hindu Succession Act (1956), Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act (1956), and Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956)) during his leadership. In this process, JLN trampled on various philosophical principles of Sanatana Dharma a.k.a Hinduism such as Vivaaha, Purusharthas and Asrama Dharmas etc., and replaced them with secular (read Christian Law minus Church theology) ritual aspects in their place.

JLN sold this secularism to Indian public in the guise of uniting the Hindu population, by standardizing the personal laws of Hindu majority. In their penchant for secularism the leadership of independent India ignored the fact that the unifying factor of Hinduism is not the locally developed rituals but the dharmic philosophies that all these locally disparate rituals represent and abide by.

The Christian minorities never needed a secular law because the so-called secular law is nothing but a Christian social contract minus the church.

JLN did not and could not press the Indian Muslim population to come under the secular uniform civil code because they squarely denied the government of India in interfering with their personal lives and religious beliefs.

Thus the secular leadership brigade of Independent India snatched away the Hindu dharmic philosophy from the civil relationships of majority Hindu population. 

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