The battle between secularism and intolerance

The year 2015 echoed with ‘intolerance’ in all over India. Starting from the ban on beef to the lousy pandemonium at Cuttack, the single word created uproar in the whole country. Artists, writers and even scientists returned their respective awards raising their voices against the growing intolerance.

Well-known actors such as Shahrukh Khan, Anupam Kher and Aamir Khan faced fierce comments for their statements on intolerance. Very soon it gathered massive attention from citizens and became the most discussed topic through the end of the year. Questions were asked about why, how and where. These were easier to fall for, easier to argue about. However, the background question remained silent. ‘Why now?’

The dictionary defines the meaning of intolerance as an unwillingness to accept another’s views and beliefs that differ from your own. India was described as a secular democratic nation in our constitution in 1976, according to 42nd Amendment. With the notion of ‘Sarva Dharma Samabhava’, Indian secularism theoretically points towards equality of all religions. Then, has India always been secular from 1976 to 2015? Communal violence, the intervention of the idea of pseudo-secularism, and shameful behaviour by angry mobs have always been in the limelight. If these are deviations from our constitutional statement, don’t they also symbolise intolerance?

India is a complicated hotchpotch of spirituality, culture, language, and religion. In such a country with a population of over 1.25 bn., every non-secular event can’t be called intolerant. Such situations should be navigated through proper guidance and resolved fast. The fact that the country’s citizens pour their faith in public figures can’t be overlooked. Therefore, both people and public figures must remain in a harmonic relationship. Most importantly, in a democratic secular country like India, criticism should be accepted in a healthy manner rather than highlighting critics.

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