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Secularism per se is a doctrine which arose in the modem West as a revolt against the closed creed of Christianity. Its battle-cry was that the State should be freed from the stranglehold of the Church, and the citizen should be left to his own individual choice in matters of belief... Had India borrowed this doctrine from the modem West, it would have meant a rejection of the closed creeds of Islam and Christianity, and a promotion of the Sanatana Dharma family of faiths which have been naturally secularist in the modern Western sense. ~ Sita Ram Goel
Though borrowed from the West, secularism in India served a different end. In the West, it was directed against the clergy, tyrannical rulers, and had therefore a liberating role; in India, it was designed and actually used by Macaulayites to keep down the Hindus, the victims of two successive imperialisms expending over a thousand years. In the West, it opposed the Church which claimed to be the sole custodian of truth, which took upon itself the responsibility of dictating science and ordering thought, which decided when the world was created, whether the earth is flat or round, whether the sun or the earth moves round the other, which gave definitive conclusions on all matters and punished and dissent.... But in India secularism has been a part of the Establishment, first of the British and then of our own self-alienated rulers. ~ Ram Swarup
The concept of Secularism as known to the modern West is dreaded, derided and denounced in the strongest terms by the foundational doctrines of Christianity and Islam. .... It is, therefore, intriguing that the most fanatical and fundamentalist adherents of Christianity and Islam in India - Christian missionaries and Muslim mullahs - cry themselves hoarse in defence of Indian Secularism... ~ Sita Ram Goel
In Europe, the Pope is the scapegoat par excellence of militant secularists and atheists, but in India he is counted among the "secular" alliance (along with the most obscurantist Mullahs, self-described “secularists” whose like-minded Arab colleagues abhor secularism), for he is anti-Hindu and that's the only qualification you need to earn the label "secularist". To the RSS, the secularists are accomplices of the anti-national forces, of Pakistan and the terrorists. That is not incorrect, but to me, they are first of all a bunch of clowns. ~ Koenraad Elst

In the Indian context, the term pseudo-secularism is a political term. The term implies that those who claim to be secular are actually not so, but are anti-Hindu. The Hindu nationalist politicians accused of being "communal" use it as a counter-accusation against their critics.

QuotesEdit

  • I believe that the word secular is the biggest lie since Independence. Those that have given birth to this lie and those that use it should apologise to the people and this country. No system can be secular. Political system can be sect-neutral. If someone were to say that government has to be run by one way of prayer, that is not possible. In UP, I have to look at 22 crore people and I am answerable for their security and their feelings. But I am not sitting here to ruin one community either. You can be sect-neutral but not secular.
    • Yogi Adityanath, quoted in The Indian Express, Secular word is the biggest lie, says Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, 14 November 2017. [1]
  • “The secular state assumes that the Semitic religions and the Hindu traditions are instances of the same kind”
    • S. N. Balagangadhara quoted from Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015. Ch. 3. The Lost Honour of India Studies
  • “When Indian intellectuals use existing theories about religion and its history – for example, to analyse ‘Hindu-Muslim’ strife – they reproduce, both directly and indirectly, what the West has been saying so far. (…) the ‘secularist’ discourse about this issue can hardly be distinguished – both in terms of the contents or the vocabulary – from Orientalist writings of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.” (p.47) [Secularism is the direct heir of the colonial dispensation.]
    • S. N. Balagangadhara quoted from Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015. Ch. 3. The Lost Honour of India Studies
  • You see, the secularists are like the followers of Big Brother in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (a parody of Stalinism). When Big Brother has raised the prices, they hold a demonstration to thank him for lowering the prices. And when a Muslim government organizes pogroms against the Hindus, the secularists thank it for keeping communal harmony... While secularism is a European import into India, I just don't recognize the secularism practiced in India.... In my country, we think that secularism implies the freedom to learn, teach and practice a religion, and also the freedom to reject, abandon and criticize a religion. But in India, those who call themselves secular, combine a Stalinist propensity to ban religious education in (non-minority) schools, or to ban religious TV serials, with a bigoted propensity to ban books that take a critical look at religions. In both cases, they arrogate the right to decide for others what they can see and read, and what not. We think that secularism means : let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred ideas compete. But in India, the favourite slogan of secularists is : Ban it ! Listen here, friends : banning for secularism is like f...ing for virginity... their justification is that these books and films might hurt feelings and thus disturb communal harmony. Indian secularists declare that a critical or blasphemous book should be banned, because it may offend someone's feelings. Genuine secularists oppose bans because a ban offends our intelligence. And offended it is, by these inflated book-banners who claim the right to decide for us what we can read and what not.... Of course, the Hindutva people are right when they call the secularists pseudo-secularists... If secularism means what it really means, as in Europe, then the people who make common cause with Muslim fundamentalists and defend a separate status for a state with a Muslim majority, religion-based personal laws, and religion-based discrimination in education or in temple management, cannot count as secularists. They are pseudo-secularists, and their opponents are genuine secularists...
    • Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (1991). Ayodhya and after: Issues before Hindu society.
  • Secularism should be defended in its genuine European sense, against the Stalinist perversion of secularism that still has quite a following in India... In Hindu culture, even in its most unsophisticated popular forms, this focus on individual consciousness is always there. No group prayers, one's religious experience is one's personal affair. Therefore, the concept of leaving religion to the care of the individual, with no authority above him empowered to dictate beliefs or religious practices, which in the West constituted a cultural revolution called secularism, is nothing new to Hindu culture. This is not an idealization but a firm reality : no matter what the "evils of Hindu society" may have been, subjecting the individual's freedom of religion to any public authority is not one of them. No wonder that Voltaire, who strongly opposed the Church's totalitarian grip over men's lives, and may count as one of the ideologues of secularism, mentioned the religions of India and China as a model of how religion could be a free exploration by the individual. ... The official Hindi term for secularism is dharmanirpekshata, i.e. dharma-neutrality. Critics of Nehruvian secularism say the correct translation would be panthanirpekshata or sampradayanirpekshata, i.e. sect- neutrality... So, the concepts of "dharma" and "religion" overlap only partly. The term dharmanirpekshata becomes a bit absurd or even sinister when it turns out to say "duty- neutrality" or "righteousness-neutrality" (though it applies accurately to the utter corruption in which Nehru's secular socialism has plunged the Indian state). The absurdity really comes out when we translate it as "value-system-neutrality". You just cannot have a polity without a value-system that sustains the unity and integrity of the whole. Even secularism implies something of a value-system.
    • Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (1991). Ayodhya and after: Issues before Hindu society.
  • One of the great surprises which Indian "secularism" offers to people familiar with genuine secularism, is that it totally shuns and even condemns the fundamental questioning of Christian (or Islamic) dogma. For ten years I have closely followed the Indian communalism debate, and not once have I seen a "secularist" mentioning the debunking of Christian beliefs, still the single most revolutionary achievement of the secular study of religions. Even non-essential Christian fairy-tales like the story of apostle Thomas's arrival and martyrdom in South India are repeated ad nauseam in "secularist" pieces on the current missionary crisis.
    • The Problem of Christian Missionaries by K. Elst, 7 June 1999. [2]
  • In the West, secularism implies pinpricking religious fraud and arrogance, but in India, secularists are the most eloquent defenders of myth and theocracy.
    • Elst, Koenraad, Who is a Hindu, (2001)
  • Its roots [of the term 'communalism'] lie in the British colonial policy of taking “communities” as the relevant units in recruitment or in the allotment of seats in representative assemblies. Originally, the term had no pejorative connotation, but Indian nationalists in the freedom movement objected to these “communal” policies which allegedly aimed at keeping the Indian population divided. Indeed, the biggest worry of the freedom movement was the “communalist” collaboration of the Muslim League with the colonial administration: in exchange for “communal” electorates and recruitment quota, the party claiming to represent the Indian Muslims agreed to stay aloof from the anti-British agitation. Today, “communalism” is one of those labels allotted exclusively to people who reject it; it is a term of abuse. Even people who advocate communal recruitment quota (a demand recently revived by an array of Muslim organizations) are now self-described “secularists” and signatories to every new “National Manifesto [...] Against Communalism.... Jamaat-i-Islami (whose Pakistani wing has campaigned for decades, and with success, for the desecularization of the state) attacks “communalism” in the name of “secularism”. I cannot recall a single issue of the Islamist papers Radiance and Muslim India which failed to brandish “secularism” and denounce “communalism”.
    • Elst Koenraad, Decolonizing the Hindu Mind (2001)
  • Even Muslim activists whose counterparts in Turkey or Egypt denounce secularism as a demonic betrayal of Islam, call themselves “secularists”. ... The general enthusiasm for "secularism" in itself should indicate that the meaning of the term has undergone a drastic change in India, and that it is irresponsible to use the term as if it had its established Western meaning... A professional interpreter who translates déception as deception is incompetent, and an India-watcher who translates the Indian-English term secularism into standard English as secularism, has a similar problem.
    • Elst Koenraad, Decolonizing the Hindu Mind (2001), 31-32
  • As a general rule, you can predict what the secularist position on any issue will be once you know what the militant Islamist position is. From justifying terrorism to misrepresenting the Ayodhya evidence, the two are rarely very different.
    • Elst, Koenraad, Ayodhya, the Finale (2003)
  • In India, political incidents frequently pit Hindu nationalism, or even just plain Hinduism and plain nationalism, against so-called “secularism”. In practice, this term denotes a combine of Islamists, Hindu-born Marxists and consumericanized one-dimensionalists who share a hatred of Hindu culture and Hindu self-respect. What passes for secularism in India is often the diametrical opposite of what goes by the same name in the West... In India, sharia-wielding Muslim clerics whose Arab counterparts denounce secularism as the ultimate evil, call themselves secularists. Just as the word deception differs in meaning from its French counterpart déception (= disappointment), the word secularism has a sharply different meaning in Indian English as compared to metropolitan English.
    • Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2003). Ayodhya: The finale ; science versus secularism in the excavations debate.
  • Genuine secular states have equality before the law of all citizens regardless of religion. By contrast, India has different civil codes depending on the citizen's religion. Thus, for Christians it is very hard to get a divorce, Hindus and Muslim women can get one through judicial proceedings, and Muslim men can simply repudiate their wives. The secular alternative, a common civil code, is championed by the Hindu nationalists. It is the so-called secularists who, justifying themselves with specious sophistry, join hands with the most obscurantist religious leaders to insist on maintaining the present unequal system.
    Likewise, there exists a legal inequality in matters of temple management, pilgrimage subsidies, special autonomy for states depending on their populations' religious composition, and the right to found religious schools; and this inequality is defended by the so-called secularists because it is invariably to the disadvantage of the Hindus. The Hindu nationalists favour the secular alternative of equality regardless of religion... When we consider “secularism” as an intellectual movement rather than as a juridical concept, “secularism” means that religion is treated as a human construct rather than the product of a divine revelation. It implies a frank and critical investigation of the claims of religion. In this respect, the failure and dishonesty of Indian secularism is even more radical. Its discourse on religion is extremely and wilfully superficial. It shields from criticism even the most obscurantist religious beliefs or institutions, provided they are non-Hindu (and even in attacking Hinduism, its criticisms of even legitimate targets tend to be crassly superficial). For instance, almost every self-styled secularist, from former President A.K. Narayanan to the editors of the newspapers, has sworn by the story that Christianity was brought to India by the apostle Thomas. In the West, not just secularists but even Catholic universities like the one where I studied have dropped this myth. But in India, the secularists are its most determined upholders.
    • Elst, Koenraad, The Problem with Secularism (2007)
  • When I arrived [in India], the Indian papers were full of the controversy over the ban on Salman Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses. To my surprise, many so-called "secularists", such as Khushwant Singh and M.J. Akbar, supported the ban, which had been promulgated by the "secularist" Congress government. The more I learned about this Indian "secularism", the more it became clear to me that it was often the very opposite of what we in the West in genuinely secular states call "secularism".
    Indeed, over the years I have had many a good laugh at the pompous moralism and blatant dishonesty of India's so-called secularists. Their specialty is to justify double standards, e.g. why mentioning murdered Kashmiri Pandits is “communal hate-mongering” while the endless litany about murdered Gujarati Muslims is “secular consciousness-raising”. Sometimes they merely stonewall inconvenient information, such as when they tried to deny and suppress the historical data about the forcible replacement of a Rama temple in Ayodhya by a mosque: given the strength of the evidence, all they could do was to drown out any serious debate with screams and swearwords. But often they do bring out their specific talents at sophistry, such as when they argue that a Common Civil Code, a defining element of all secular states, is a Hindu communalist notion, while the preservation of the divinely-revealed Shari’a for the Muslims is secular. That’s when they are at their best....
    In the run-up to the Pope's visit to Delhi in 1999, the secularists fell over each other trying to be the loudest and shrillest in denying the "vicious Hindutva propaganda" that the Catholic Church has as its stated goal to convert the whole of India (and the world) to its own belief system. ... In Europe, the Pope is the scapegoat par excellence of militant secularists and atheists, but in India he is counted among the "secular" alliance (along with the most obscurantist Mullahs, self-described “secularists” whose like-minded Arab colleagues abhor secularism), for he is anti-Hindu and that's the only qualification you need to earn the label "secularist". To the RSS, the secularists are accomplices of the anti-national forces, of Pakistan and the terrorists. That is not incorrect, but to me, they are first of all a bunch of clowns.
    • Elst Koenraad, Hinduism, Environmentalism and the Nazi Bogey -- A preliminary reply to Ms. Meera Nanda, In: Return of the Swastika: Hate and Hysteria versus Hindu Sanity (2007), chapter 3.
  • Likewise, no discussion is opened against the denunciation of the "secular intellectuals" as "alienated pseudo-secularists full of contempt for the true Hindu culture", though the concept "pseudo-secular" is central to the whole controversy, and proves to be entirely valid when you consider that those "secularists" defend all kinds of religious discrimination, e.g. religion-based civil codes, against the genuinely and quintessentially secular system of equality of all citizens before the law regardless of their religion.
    • Elst, Koenraad. The Problem with Secularism (2007)
  • For half a century, all official statements of the BJP and its predecessor Jana Sangh have emphasized that the party does not want to "transform India from the secular democracy its founders envisioned 55 years ago into a Hindu religious state", but that, on the contrary, it wants genuine secularism. Rather than being a hollow slogan, this position is articulated in the form of precise proposals for reform of an impeccably and undeniably secularist nature. Thus, the proposed abolition of the special status of Kashmir (Art. 370 of the Constitution) is nothing but the abolition of a religion-based privilege: no Hindu-majority state enjoys the special privileges accorded to Muslim-majority Kashmir. Likewise, any genuine secularist would abolish the existing anti-Hindu legal discriminations in matters of temple and school management and the subsidizing or taxing of pilgrimages.... The BJP proposal to enact a Common Civil Code in replacement of the existing religion-based Personal Law systems is the very quintessence of secularism. Today, contrary to Mira Kamdar's claim, India is not a secular state, for unlike genuinely secular states, India has no equality before the law regardless of religion. Thus, getting a divorce is extremely difficult for a Christian, is a matter fr judicial proceedings in the case of Hindus or of Muslim women, and is the unilateral exercise of an unfettered right of repudiation in the case of a Muslim man. What the BJP wants is to bring India in line with the secular states of the world by enacting a common law equally applying to all citizens. The qualification of the self-styled secularists as "pseudo-secularists" is definitely justified by the fact that they support the continuation of legal religion-based discrimination all while vilifying the only political force willing to secularize Personal Law. Most Hindutva sources, searchable on the internet but otherwise quite unreported in the Western media, have emphasized that most victims were "women and children", implying a big question-mark over the description of the Godhra victims as "militants". Because of this inconvenient implication, most authors propagating the "secularist" viewpoint before ignorant Western audiences have simply left out the detail that the victims were "mostly women and children", so as to make the allegation of "militancy" more credible, along with the justifying suggestion that those fanatics had it coming to them.
    • Elst, Koenraad. The Problem with Secularism (2007)
  • When we want to understand a social problem, we need a language capable of expressing the data and underlying concepts describing the problem. In India, political incidents frequently pit Hindu nationalism, or even just plain Hinduism and plain nationalism, against so-called "secularism". In practice, this term denotes a combine of Islamists, Hindu-born Marxists, Christian missionaries and americanized adepts of consumerism who share a hatred of Hindu culture and Hindu self-respect. What passes for secularism in India is often the diametrical opposite of what goes by the same name in the West. Genuine secular states have equality before the law of all citizens regardless of religion. By contrast, India has different civil codes depending on the citizen's religion. Thus, for Christians it is very hard to get a divorce, Hindus and Muslim women can get one through judicial proceedings, and Muslim men can simply repudiate their wives. The secular alternative, a common civil code, is championed by the Hindu nationalists. It is the so-called secularists who, justifying themselves with specious sophistry, join hands with the most obscurantist religious leaders to insist on maintaining the present unequal system. Likewise, there exists a legal inequality in matters of temple management, pilgrimage subsidies, special autonomy for states depending on their populations' religious composition, and the right to found religious schools; and this inequality is defended by the so-called secularists because it is invariably to the disadvantage of the Hindus. The Hindu nationalists favour the secular alternative of equality regardless of religion. In India, shari'a -wielding Muslim clerics whose Arab counterparts denounce secularism as the ultimate evil, call themselves secularists. Just as the English word deception differs in meaning from its French counterpart déception (= disappointment), the word secularism has a sharply different meaning in Indian English as compared to metropolitan English. When we consider "secularism" as an intellectual movement rather than as a juridical concept, "secularism" means that religion is treated as a human construct rather than the product of a divine revelation. It implies a frank and critical investigation of the claims of religion. In this respect, the failure and dishonesty of Indian secularism is even more radical. Its discourse on religion is extremely and wilfully superficial. It shields from criticism even the most obscurantist religious beliefs or institutions, provided they are non-Hindu (and even in attacking Hinduism, its criticisms of even legitimate targets tend to be crassly superficial). For instance, almost every self-styled secularist, from former President A.K. Narayanan to the editors of the newspapers, has sworn by the story that Christianity was brought to India by the apostle Thomas. In the West, not just secularists but even Catholic universities like the one where I studied have dropped this myth. But in India, the secularists are its most determined upholders. Indian secularism is systematically dishonest in its assessment of the religions hostile to Hinduism.
    • Koenraad Elst: Religious Cleansing of Hindus, 2004, in: Elst, K. The Problem with Secularism (2007)
  • In India, however, "secularism" has acquired a wholly different meaning. Ever since the term was propagated by Jawaharlal Nehru, being an Indian secularist does not require you to reject theocracy and the intrusion of Religion into politics. On the contrary, every obscurantist in India swears by "secularism". The word's effective Meaning has shifted to a concern quite unknown to its European coiners, viz, the struggle against Hinduism. ... It is a different matter that the hollow and crassly superficial Ideology of Nehruvian secularism is secure in its power position because of the absence of credible challengers. With a political opposition claiming to be "positive secularists" and "genuine secularists", India's official "pseudo-secularism" has no one to fear.
    • Elst, K. The Problem with Secularism (2007)
  • On the Hindu side then, at least the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, "National Volunteer Corps") could qualify as "communalist"? Certainly, it is called just that by all its numerous enemies. But then, when you look through any issue of its weekly Organiser, you will find it brandishing the notion of "positive" or "genuine secularism", and denouncing "pseudo-secularism", i.e. minority communalism.
    • Elst, K. in : India's only communalist. A short biography of Sita Ram Goel [3]
  • Anyway, his remark that my writing is “controversial” is a statement of a social fact, but is not an evaluation of my work. There is, for instance, nothing controversial about my perfectly logical and factual observation, repeated on many forums, that Indian “secularism” fails the very first test of secularism, viz. by adhering to separate law systems depending on religion. Of course I know that the Indian establishment and its parrots in Western academe swear by this hypocritical situation: treating citizens differently according to their religion yet calling it “secularism”. But what I say is just logic and would be approved by any candid and unforewarned outsider, while the prevalent claim of Indian “secularism” amounts to a defence of vested political interests. ... Most Western experts start their papers with the assertion: ”India’s secularism is threatened by Hindu nationalism.” That position is not socially controversial, it is the received wisdom, but it is logically controversial and implies the untrue description of the present system as “secular”. It is also logically controversial, in fact untenable, to describe as a “threat to secularism” the BJP, the only party whose manifesto promises the enactment of a Common Civil Code, that definitional cornerstone of secularism, taken for granted in most Western countries. ... Secondly, another criterion to decide whether a movement is “far” or “extreme” is its attitude to democracy. Many secularists who dole out the label “extreme right” so easily, have completely forgotten about democracy. Of course they do, because India was declared a “secular, socialist republic” under Indira Gandhi’s Emergency dictatorship, which many vocal secularists supported. The first thing that Hitler (following Lenin) did upon coming to power, was to abolish democracy. Now, let us look at Voice of India in this regard. Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel, Gandhian freedom-fighters in their youth (whereas the much-revered Dr. Bhimrao Ambekar emphatically pronounced himself in favour of the continuation of colonial rule), stood by democracy all their lives. They actively opposed the Emergency dictatorship, in this case alongside the Hindutva organizations (and a faction among the Communists), against its secularist enforcers.... Quite the contrary. Secularists when corred often resort to the argument that the word “secularism” happens to have different meanings in Europe and India. I however maintain that “secularism” has only one real meaning, that this meaning was already firmly established before the word came to be used in India, and that what prevails in India is therefore something else than secularism.
    • Elst, Koenraad. The Wikipedia lemma on "Koenraad Elst": a textbook example of defamation (2013) [4]
  • First of all, they assume that India is a secular state, which it is not. Every secular state on earth by definition observes equality before the law for every citizen regardless of religion. India, by contrast, has different family law systems (marriage, inheritance) depending on one’s religion, e.g. Muslim men can immediately impose a divorce while all others have to pass judicial procedure (thus also causing discrimination by gender for Muslim men vs. Muslim women). Moreover, it has arrogated the right to reform Hindu law, while it passively abides by the other law systems, e.g. it has abolished Hindu polygamy but continues to allow Muslim polygamy. So, it discriminates between religions. It extends those discriminations legally and constitutionally to the fields of education (where minorities are privileged over the Hindus) and places of worship (where politicians plunder Hindu temple funds while respecting those of churches and mosques, sometimes even financing these out of Hindu temple funds).
    • Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015 Ch 13
  • So, India is a secular state if all citizens get the same treatment in law regardless of their religion. Is this the case? Of course not: Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Parsis have different law systems, chiefly because Muslims insist on it. So, contrary to all those fear-mongers’ loud proclamations that “the BJP constitutes a threat to the secular state in India”, firstly, India definitely is not a secular state, and secondly, the BJP wants to enact a Common Civil Code and is thereby the only major party that wants to turn India into a secular state. The other major parties including the long-ruling Congress Party, by contrast, keep on promising their Muslim voters that they will preserve legal Apartheid between the religions and prevent India from becoming a secular state. Indeed, Muslims outside India openly abhor secularism; those in India only swear by “secularism” because they know that there, the word is used improperly and effectively only means “anti-Hindu”. Not that she drew attention to the fact that “secularism” has a very different meaning to Westerners from what it has come to mean in India. Indian secularists prefer to keep the rest of the world in ignorance about their own dirty little secret, viz. that “secularism” in India often means the very opposite of its normal meaning. When you question an Indian secularist at close quarters, he will try to save his position by explaining that secularism in India happens to mean something different from what it means in the West? But do they tell this to Western audiences? Prof. Kapur at any rate did not. Westerners’ automatic sympathy for Indian secularism (and against the supposed “theocrats” they hear about) is predicated on the assumption that their own familiar secularism is also present in India, that both are the same. Logic teaches that “a = a”, that a term has the same meaning throughout a reasoning process, so Westerners assume that “secularism” means secularism, and this Indian law professor certainly wasn’t going to pin-prick that illusion. So instead, she explained that the Hindu Right only wanted “formal equality” (understood as “justice to all, appeasement of none”) while the rest wanted “substantive equality”, a position she found far more sophisticated and just. But any law scholar would understand that the law is precisely about “formal” equality. In the real world, one man is rich and another poor, one is talented and another dumb, etc.; but at least in law, they are equal. The law cannot neutralize the inequalities given to men by nature; but the least it can do, is to make men at least “formally” equal. And that is the case in a Common Civil Code, which the BJP advocates and which she therefore considered a “threat to India’s secularism”. [...] So, the BJP’s demand for a Common Civil Code is effectively buttressed with feminist rhetoric. In Prof. Kapur's spin, this shows how devious and Machiavellistic the Hindu Right really is. In a less partisan explanation, this only shows how the demand for a Common Civil Code is a common demand of different groups. As nationalists, the “Hindu Right” (which calls itself “Hindu nationalist”) care about the oneness of the nation, and that justifies the abolition of divisive religion-based Civil Codes including the Shari’a. As egalitarians, feminists (and normal people in general) want to abolish the sexual inequality inherent in the Shari’a, which they will achieve in a Common Civil Code. So, there are different reasons for abolishing an Indian legal systems that falsely flatters itself to be “secular”. Or in other words: there are several reasons, Hindu-Rightist as well as other, why Prof. Kapur’s defence of the present system is wrong.
    • Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015 Ch 20
  • It is characteristic of practically all texts lauding India’s “secularism” that this inconvenient truth is omitted, and secularism is attributed to the unquestionable authority of the Constitution and its supposed author, BR Ambedkar. ... “secular” was a product of the Emergency... The word “secular” was not part of India’s political parlance in the days of the Constituent Assembly, and even the Republic (let alone India itself) was not founded as a “secular” state. On the contrary, the Constituent Assembly through its chairman, BR Ambedkar, explicitly rejected the two S words. India became a “secular socialist” republic under the Emergency dictatorship (1975-77) without proper Parliamentary debate. “Secular” is one of the few words in the Constitution that was enacted without democratic basis, and this is only fitting for a “secularism” which has always and unabashedly been despotic and anti-majority. There may be many things wrong with democracy, but it is not anti-majority. Indeed, that is precisely what is wrong with democracy, according to the secularists. [...] Being naturally despotic, the Nehruvian secularists used precisely this intermezzo [the Emergency dictatorship (1975-77)] to insert “secular, socialist” into the text of the Constitution. The declaration of India as a “secular” republic, without a proper parliamentary debate, is thus the only part of the Constitution that is historically undemocratic.
    • Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015 Ch 30, 10
  • The iron fist of the attack (the Zarb-e-Mo’min, “strike of the faithful”, as the Pakistani Army once named one of its exercises) is furnished by Christianity and Islam, who mean to expand worldwide and in the process destroy all heathen religions. They have a positive goal, viz. perpetuating and propagating themselves, and their negative goal of digesting or annihilating Hinduism only follows therefrom. This way, they have a very good conscience in doing their work of destruction: it is only meant to clear the way for the true religion. So, they have inner strength, but they also have outer strength: they are huge and very wealthy, being only the Indian arms of two worldwide movements. It is ridiculous that they are called “minorities” at all, yet they carefully cultivate that status, for in the present-day mentality, any majority is deemed overbearing and oppressive. Their foreign roots not only make them very resourceful, they also give them a head-start in developing a coherent strategy with sustainable long-term goals. But this iron fist is clothed in a velvet glove: secularism. Knaves claim and fools believe that this is the Indian instance of the worldwide phenomenon of secularism (separation of religion and politics) originating in the West, but it is not. Thus, Islamic militants who in Arabia would abhor secularism (meaning separation of religion and politics, e.g. democratic law-making separate from what Islam prescribes), emphatically call themselves “secularists” in India. The reason is that in India, the word has a very different meaning: anything that is anti-Hindu. Islamic militants are anti-Hindu, so they indeed qualify as “secularists”. But what animates them is not this profile of secularism but their heartfelt commitment to Islam; and similarly with Christian missionaries, who can rightly call themselves secularists under the Indian definition, though their real commitment is to Christianity. So when we say “secularists”, we don’t usually mean them, we mean the Hindu-born secularists, who genuinely intend to define their uppermost commitment when they call themselves secularists.
    • Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015 Ch 32
  • In its European countries of origin, secularism (French: laicité) wanted to be a way to contain the Christian Churches, to make and keep the State free from interference by the Church. In the budding United States, the emphasis was slightly different: to keep the Churches free from interference by the State. At any rate, the core idea was separation of Church and State. The most fundamental characteristic of a secular state is the equality of all its citizens before the law, regardless of religion. In that sense, India is not a secular state at all. Its Constitution mandates quite a bit of State interference in religious laws and institutions, at least those of the Hindus, and formally as well as effectively discriminates against its religious majority. It does not satisfy the very first criterion of a secular state, viz. the legal equality of all citizens regardless of religion. On the contrary, in family matters, there are different sets of laws for Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Parsis. The most famou example is of course that a Muslim man can have four wives, others cannot. The discrimination lies not only in the the State’s perpetuation of a consequential inequality, but also in the genesis of that inequality through State intervention, viz. by the abolition of polygamy where it existed in Hindu society versus its deliberate non-abolition among Muslims. One can recognize an incompetent India-watcher by his pompous claim that “India is secular state”. It is not, period. [...] Thus, in the West, secularism means that all citizens are equal before the law, regardless of their religion; or what Indians call a Common Civil Code. In India, by contrast, all secularists swear by the preservation of the present system of separate religion-based Personal Laws, though they prefer to avoid the subject, hopefully from embarassment at the contradiction. And all Indian secularists swear by the preservation of constitutional, legal and factual discriminations against the Hindu majority. (In case you have recently lived on another planet and don’t believe that there are such discriminations, one example: the Right to Education Act 2006, which imposes some costly duties on schools except minority schools, has led to the closure of hundreds of Hindu schools.) Likewise, in the West, the enactment of secularism went hand in hand with deepening criticism of religion, which was pushed from its pedestal and recognized as just another fallible human construct, open to questioning and criticism. In India, by contrast, secularists cheer for the application, formally or in spirit, of Section 295A to outlaw religious criticism – except when it is Hinduism that gets criticized. And that is why the AAR scholars, in solidarity with their Indian secularist friends, have never moved a finger about minority-enforced censorship but made a mountain out of the Doniger molehill.
    • Elst, Koenraad. Hindu Dharma and the Culture Wars. (2019). New Delhi : Rupa.
  • The word secular is defined in the dictionaries as "the belief that the state, morals, education, etc. should be independent of religion." But in India it means only one thing -- eschewing everything Hindu and espousing everything Islamic.
    • Goel, Sita Ram: Perversion of India's Political Parlance (1984)
  • The concept of Secularism as known to the modern West is dreaded, derided and denounced in the strongest terms by the foundational doctrines of Christianity and Islam. Both of these doctrines prescribe Theocracy under which the State serves as the secular arm of the Church or the Ummah, and society is regimented by the Sacred Canon or the Shariat. This fact is more than evident if we survey the history of Christianity till the French Revolution, and the practice which prevails in all Islamic states till today. It is a different matter that Christianity has reconciled itself to Secularism because of its steep decline in its traditional homelands - Europe and the Americas. The doctrine remains unchanged and Christianity will restore Theocracy if it were to acquire power again. Islam has yet to evince any sign of similar reconciliation with Secularism either in doctrine or in practice. In fact, the recent trend in most Islamic countries has been to revert to Theocracy in its pristine form, that is, as it existed under the four "rightly guided caliphs".
    It is, therefore, intriguing that the most fanatical and fundamentalist adherents of Christianity and Islam in India - Christian missionaries and Muslim mullahs - cry themselves hoarse in defence of Indian Secularism... The puzzle needs unravelling unless one is satisfied with the mere sound of the word 'secularism', and at the same time nails pluralistic Hinduism as a closed monotheism like Islam and Christianity as India-watchers in the West and their lickspittles in this country have been doing for a long time... It can be concluded quite safely that although all 'secularists' may not be scoundrels, all scoundrels in India are 'secularists'. (...) Secularism in the West had risen as a revolt against the closed creed of Christianity and had meant, for more than 150 years, a freeing of the State from the clutches of the Church. In the Indian context it should have meant a revolt against the closed creed of Islam as well, and keeping the state aloof from the influence of mullahs.
    • Goel, Sita Ram: Freedom of expression - Secular Theocracy Versus Liberal Democracy (1998)
  • Secularism per se is a doctrine which arose in the modem West as a revolt against the dosed creed of Christianity. Its battle-cry was that the State should be freed from the stranglehold of the Church, and the citizen should be left to his own individual choice in matters of belief. And it met with great success in every Western democracy. Had India borrowed this doctrine from the modem West, it would have meant a rejection of the dosed creeds of Islam and Christianity, and a promotion of the Sanatana Dharma family of faiths which have been naturally secularist in the modern Western sense. But what happened actually was that Secularism in India became the greatest protector of closed creeds which had come here in the company of foreign invaders, and kept tormenting the national society for several centuries.
    We should not, therefore, confuse India's Secularism with its namesake in the modern West. The Secularism which Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru propounded and which has prospered in post-independence India, is a new concoction and should be recognized as such. We need not bother about its various definitions as put forward by its pandits. We shall do better if we have a close look at its concrete achievements.
    Going by those achievements, one can conclude quite safely that Nehruvian Secularism is a magic formula for transmitting base metals into twenty-four carat gold. How else do we explain the fact of Islam becoming a religion, and that too a religion of tolerance, social equality, and human brotherhood; or the fact of Muslim rule in medieval India becoming an indigenous dispensation; or the fact of Muhammad bin Qasim becoming a liberator of the toiling masses in Sindh; or the fact of Mahmud Ghaznavi becoming the defreezer of productive wealth hoarded in Hindu temples; or the fact of Muhammad Ghuri becoming the harbinger of an urban revolution; or the fact of Muinuddin Chishti becoming the great Indian saint; or the fact of Amir Khusru becoming the pioneer of communal amity; or the fact of Alauddin Khilji becoming the first socialist in the annals of this country; or the fact of Akbar becoming the father of Indian nationalism; or the fact of Aurangzeb becoming the benefactor of Hindu temples; or the fact of Sirajuddaula, Mir Qasim, Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan, and Bahadur Shah Zafar becoming the heroes of India's freedom struggle against British imperialism or the fact of the Faraizis, the Wahabis, and the Moplahs becoming peasant revolutionaries and foremost freedom fighters?
    One has only to go to the original sources in order to understand the true character of Islam and its above-mentioned luminaries. And one can see immediately that their true character has nothing to do with that with which they have been invested in our school and college text-books. No deeper probe is needed for unraveling the mysteries of Nehruvian Secularism.
    • Sita Ram Goel, Tipu Sultan - Villain or Hero (1993)
  • Thus Hindu society not only presents itself as a prey to these exclusive, intolerant and imperialist ideologies but also acts as a buffer between them. India is secular because India is Hindu. It can be added as a corollary that India is a democracy also because India is Hindu. If Hindu society permits this free for all any further, the days of Secularism and Democracy in this country are numbered. Let the Hindus unite and save themselves, their democratic polity, their secular state, and their Sanatana Dharma for a new cycle of civilization, not only for themselves but also the world.
    • Sita Ram Goel, Hindu Society under Siege (1992)
  • Another side of the same strategy has been worked out to neutralise, paralyse and blacken or pamper different sections of Hindu society so that the road is cleared for the forward march of Islamism. Some salient features of this secondary strategy can be outlined as follows: 1. The concept of Secularism which is enshrined in the Constitution of India and which has become the most sacred slogan for all our political parties should be distorted, misinterpreted and misused to the maximum to block out the least little expression of Hindu culture in the state apparatus and public life of India;...
    • Sita Ram Goel, Hindu Society under Siege (1992)
  • The puzzle gets solved when one contemplates the character of Indian Secularism and finds that is no more than a smokescreen used by the Muslim-Christian-Communist combine in order to keep India's national society and culture at bay. ... They are simply projecting their self-images on to those whom they view as their enemies. ....
    • S.R. Goel. Hindu and Hinduism, Manipulation of meanings, 1993.
  • That brings us to the second subject where the United Front between Islamism and Communism scored a notable victory-the subject of Secularism. They joined hands to jibe at Secularism till the concept was totally distorted and became a synonym for Islamic imperialism. Secularism as a state policy had been evolved in the modern West which had become sick of the contending theocratic claims of Christian churches. Theocracy had been as alien to Hindu state and society as it had been intrinsic to Christian and Islamic state and society. Secularism was, therefore, nothing new for the Hindus. ....
    • Sita Ram Goel, Hindu Society under Siege (1992)
  • I have no use for a Secularism which treats Hinduism as just another religion, and puts it on par with Islam and Christianity. For me, this concept of Secularism is a gross perversion of the concept which arose in the modem West as a revolt against Christianity and which should mean, in the Indian context, a revolt against Islam as well.
    • S.R. Goel. How I became a Hindu (1982)
  • I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Secularism in its present Indian form is no more than an embodiment of anti-Hindu animus, and is supported by all those who want to destroy Hindu society and culture. Secularism is essentially a political concept which originated and took shape in nineteenth century Europe. ....It was in this atmosphere of revolt against Christianity and its closed culture that the concept of Secularism was evolved and employed in country after country in Europe. The secular power of the State was no longer to be the secular arm of the Church. It was to become secular on its own, that is, a power which secured equal rights to all its citizens without bothering about their beliefs. The Church was separated from the State which was no longer supposed to interfere with the religious life of the citizens, or to discriminate against any citizen on the basis of his on her religion or absence of it. Religion was now to be treated as a purely private matter in which the state was not supposed to pry, and which was not to be projected in public affairs.
    • S.R.Goel. Defence of Hindu Society (1983)
  • The smokescreen for this Stalinist operation was provided by the slogan of Secularism which nobody was supposed to question, or examine as to what it had come to mean. Its meaning had to be accepted ex-cathedra, and as laid down by the Muslim-Marxist combine. In the new political parlance that emerged, Hinduism and the nationalism it inspired, became blackned as “Communalism”. Small wonder that the word “Hindu” started becoming a dirty word in the academia as well as the media. ... Secularism arose in the modern West as a revolt against the closed theology of Christianity which had acquired a stranglehold on the State; in India, unfortunately, Secularism has become the biggest single protector of closed theologies promoted by Christianity and Islam. ... All this was being done by [Nehru] in the name of Secularism, which concept he had picked up from the modern West and perverted to mean the opposite of what it meant there.
    • S.R. Goel in Shourie, A., & Goel, S. R. (1993). Hindu temples: What happened to them. Vol. II
  • [Nehru's] animus against Hinduism was derived from his love for Communism. He knew next to nothing about Buddhism; the only reason be hailed it as well as its hero, Ashoka, was that in his perception Buddhism was a 'revolt' against 'reactionary' Brahminism. Had he known the truth about Buddhism, he would have dropped it like a hot potato. The same psychology made him fall for Islam. Otherwise he was equally ignorant of, and equally indifferent to all religions. The Secularism which he espoused was not borrowed from the modem West. For him, it was only a smokescreen for Hindu-baiting. The fashion was picked up fast by a servile intelligentsia and became a national cult.
    • S.R. Goel in : Freedom of expression - Secular Theocracy Versus Liberal Democracy (1998)
  • The fourth phase which commenced with the coming of independence proved a boon for Christianity. The Christian right to convert Hindus was incorporated in the Constitution. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who dominated the scene for 17 long years, promoted every anti-Hindu ideology and movement behind the smokescreen of a counterfeit secularism. The regimes that followed continued to raise the spectre of ‘Hindu communalism’ as the most frightening phenomenon.
    • S.R. Goel in Vindicated by Time: The Niyogi Committee Report (1998)
  • Secularism in the modern West had symbolized a humanist and rationalist revolt against the closed creed of Christianity and stood for pluralism such as has characterized Hinduism down the ages. But Pandit Nehru had perverted the word and turned it into a shield for protecting every closed creed prevailing in India at the dawn of independence in 1947 Islam, Christianity, Communism.
    • Goel, S.R. Vindicated by Time: The Niyogi Committee Report (1998)
  • What helped the Christian missions a good deal from the outside was the rise of Nehruvian Secularism as India’s state policy as well as a raging fashion among India’s intellectual elite. The knowledgeable among the missionaries were surprised and somewhat amused. They knew that Secularism had risen in the West as the deadliest enemy of Christian dogmas and that it had deprived the churches of their stranglehold on state power. In India, however, Secularism was providing a smokescreen behind which Christianity could steal a march.
    • Goel, S.R. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1996)
  • India has survived as a secular nation because the majority is Hindu.
    • Javed Habib, India Today, 15/12/1990. Jawed Habib, President of the Babri Masjid Action Committee, and editor of popular Urdu weekly Hujoom. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (1991). Ayodhya and after: Issues before Hindu society.
  • A number of Indians have tried to define secularism as sarva dharma samabhava (equal respect for all religions). I cannot say whether they have been naive or clever in doing so. But the fact remains that secularism cannot admit of such an interpretation. In fact, orthodox Muslims are quite justified in regarding it as irreligious. Moreover, dharma cannot be defined as religion which is a Semitic concept and applies only to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Hinduism is not a religion in that sense; nor are Jainism and Buddhism, or for that matter, Taoism and Confucianism.
    • Girilal Jain, "Limits of the Hindu Rashtra", in : Elst, Koenraad: Ayodhya and after, Appendix I
  • As far as I know, Nehru never defined secularism in its proper European and historical context.
    • Girilal Jain, "This is Hindu India", in : Elst, Koenraad: Ayodhya and after, Appendix I
  • Decades ago, a prominent Congress leader, Kanhaiya Lal Munshi (1887-1971) had warned his party colleague, and the then Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru (1889-1964) in a letter stating, “If every time there is an inter-communal conflict, the majority is blamed regardless of the merits of the question... the springs of traditional tolerance will dry up.” Far from heeding this warning, under the guise of upholding secularism, the Congress Party has made demonisation of the majority its main political plank. This perversion is unthinkable in any other country of the world.
    • Kishwar, Madhu (2014). Modi, Muslims and media: Voices from Narendra Modi's Gujarat. p.210, with quote from K.M. Munshi, Indian Constitutional Documents: Pilgrimage to Freedom, 1902-1950,
  • Congress-culture politicians and pseudo-secularists should at least inform the minority whose cause they espouse, but to whom they never dare read a lecture, that secularism and fundamentalism are mutually exclusive, and that in the Indian secular state the Muslims cannot practise their fundamentalism. Furthermore, they can also be told that history can no longer be distorted, that it cannot be made the handmaid of politics, and that therefore they need to feel sorry if not actually repentant about the past misdeeds of Muslims.
    • Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 8
  • I do not know the meaning of the secularism. Yet I do not understand. Of course the dictionary meaning is absolutely different. There was a time when people were talking about the secularism, they were about the simply [sic] religious harmony. Slowly it changed the colour. Then, secularism means a lip sympathy to the minorities. Then slowly the colour changed. Then, secularism was [...] means appeasement to the minorities. Then the secularism changed the colour. Focus only on the Muslims' votebank in the name of secularism. Then the secularism changed the colour. Then, hate Hindu means secularism.
    • Narendra Modi, Speech 14 January 2008 (on YouTube). Speech commemorating the 38th anniversary of Thuglak.
  • [In a veiled attack on Congress and other rivals without taking their names, the Prime Minister said that for 30 years there was a drama going on for very long.] "There was such a tag which was in fashion wearing which all sins would get washed. That fake tag was called secularism. Slogans would be raised for the unity of secular people. But you would have witnessed that from 2014 - 2019 that whole bunch stopped speaking."... "In this election not even a single political party could dare to mislead the country by wearing the mask of secularism."
  • When Sadhvi Ritambhara, a pro-Janmabhoomi campaigner (a cassette of a speech of hers was banned), tells an interviewer: "Politicians appease [the Muslims] at every step, while the Hindus are taken for granted. We can't even teach our children our religion in schools", the interviewer replies : "But this is a secular nation". No, in these circumstances it is not a secular nation. Either secular means anti-religious, and then all religion teaching should be banned from schools, also that of the minorities. Or secular means religiously neutral, and then the state should leave all the religions the same right to impart religious education in schools, including the Hindus. Passing off this communal discrimination as secular, is a very crude lie indeed.
    • Sadhvi Ritambhara. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (1991). Ayodhya and after: Issues before Hindu society.
  • Do we realise how that hastily-ordered ban [on the book The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie] has changed India forever? .... When the Government promptly submitted to this illiterate hysteria, it convinced [Hindus] that secularism had become a code phrase for Muslim appeasement.
    • Vir Sanghvi: Liberal first, secular second. Sunday, 27.2.1994, quoted in Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p. 32-33
  • Though borrowed from the West, secularism in India served a different end. In the West, it was directed against the clergy, tyrannical rulers, and had therefore a liberating role; in India, it was designed and actually used by Macaulayites to keep down the Hindus, the victims of two successive imperialisms expending over a thousand years. In the West, it opposed the Church which claimed to be the sole custodian of truth, which took upon itself the responsibility of dictating science and ordering thought, which decided when the world was created, whether the earth is flat or round, whether the sun or the earth moves round the other, which gave definitive conclusions on all matters and punished and dissent. But in India, secularism was directed against Hinduism which made no such claims, which laid down no dogmas and punished no dissent, which fully accepted the role of reason and unhampered inquiry in all matters, spiritual and secular; which encouraged viewing things from multiple angles - Syadvada (for which there is no true English word) was only a part of this larger speculative and venturesome approach... There is yet another difference. In the West, the struggle for secularism called for sacrifice and suffering-remember the imprisonments, the stakes, the Index; remember the condemnation of Galileo; remember how Bruno, Lucilio Vanini, Francis Kett, Bartholomew Legate, Wightman and others were burnt at the stake. But in India secularism has been a part of the Establishment, first of the British and then of our own self-alienated rulers. It has been used against Hinduism which has nourished a great spirit and culture of tolerance, free inquiry and intellectual.... Religious harmony is a desirable thing. But it takes two to play the game. Unfortunately such a sentiment holds a low position in Islamic theology... Secularism has become a name for showing one's distance from this great religion and culture. Macaulayites and Marxists also use it for Hindu- baiting... More than the policy of divide and rule, the British followed another favourite policy, the policy of creating privileged enclaves and ruling the masses with the help of those policies were embraced in their fullness by our new rulers-the rules of the game did not change simple because the British left.
    • Ram Swarup, "Seeing through Indian secularism", in: Koenraad Elst, Ayodhya and After: Issues Before Hindu Society (1991), Appendix II
  • But there is an even more potent cause for the near total erasure of such material from our public discourse and our instruction. And that is the form of “secularism” which we have practised these forty-five years: a “secularism” in which double-standards have been the norm, one in which everything that may remove the dross by which our national identity has been covered has become anathema.
    • Arun Shourie - Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud
  • Some have seen in his approach a reaction to Islam’s assertiveness. In response to the suggestion that Hindus are behaving like Islamists, the one-time journalist and former BJP minister Arun Shourie commented tartly: ‘In a word, three things are teaching the Hindus to become Islamic: the double-standards of the secularists and the State, the demonstrated success of the Muslims in bending both the State and the secularists by intimidation, and the fact that both the State and the secularists pay attention to the sentiments of Hindus only when the Hindus become a little Islamic… [My] forecast: the more the secularists insist on double-standards, the more Islamic will the Hindus become.’
    • Arun Shourie, quoted from Shashi Tharoor, Why I am a Hindu, 2018
  • Hindu India, Secular India.
    • VHP. Slogan used in ads by the Vishva Hindu Parishad published in some papers in 1990. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (1991). Ayodhya and after: Issues before Hindu society.

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