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Secularism in Multi-Religious Indian Society

Ruchi Tyagi, Deep & Deep, 2001, xiii, 308 p, ISBN : 8176293539, $39.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

Secularism in Multi-Religious Indian Society/Ruchi Tyagi

Contents : Preface. 1. The concept of secularism. 2. Secularism in ancient India. 3. The spirit of inherent unity of religions. 4. Echoes of secularism in modern India. 5. Gandhi’s concept of secularism. 6. Nehru’s concept of secularism. 7. Secularism : constituent assembly, constitutional provisions and parliamentary enactments. 8. Judicial interpretations of Indian secularism. 9. Aberrations of secularism. 10. Epilogue : the future of secularism. Appendices. Select bibliography. Index.

"The Indian model of secularism represents a distinctive example altogether. Though in the current political discourse, it is one of the most provocative, baffling and intriguing phrase, it has occupied the central stage in intellectual discussions.

"In the context of multi-religious Indian society, the secularism is to be understood at the three levels of individuals, society and the State, which are complementary to each other. Here, the individuals cling to their professed faith or religion; society is multi-religious society based on mutual respect; and the State observes equal respect for all religions. This mutual respect reflects a ‘humanistic critique’ of religion, so long as it remains within the confines of ‘public order, morality and health’ and continues to provide for ‘social welfare and reforms’. Furthermore, this feeling of mutual respect among the communities, minorities in particular, not only strengthen the Constitutional safeguards, but also ensures a sense of security and belongingness, which no Constitution can substitute.

"The secularism, thus, means not only a bundle of guarantees in respect of the freedom of religion and conscience and in respect of cultural and educational rights, but a sense of basic fraternity, fellowship and unity among the citizens. There are some fundamental concepts to be highlighted as : (i) Amritasya Putrah or children of immorality, emphasising the divinity of man, irrespective of beliefs that one professes; (ii) Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam or the world as a family denoting the unity of human race; (iii) Ekam Sad Viprah Bahudha Vadanti or truth is one, the wise call it different names, depicting the essential unity of all religions; (iv) Sarva Dharma Sambhava or equal respect towards all religions; and (v) Bahujan Sukhaya Bahujan Hitaya or assertion for the reconstruction of society for the happiness of the many and for the welfare of many, depicting the attitude of ‘Live and Let Live’ developing into that of ‘Live and Help Live’. (jacket)

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