In defence of secularism
The Show Time/source Hindustan Times
In a letter to the Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, urging him to open religious places for worship, the state governor, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, commented on Mr Thackeray's politics of Hindutva and asked him, mockingly, if he had "turned secular”. In a separate development, an advertisement for the jewellery brand, Tanishq, which portrayed a multi-religious home where Muslim family members adopted rituals to make their Hindu daughter-in-law feel at home at her baby shower ceremony, drew a backlash on social media for ostensibly hurting Hindu sentiments. The ad, which was based on the theme of unity, was withdrawn. Both events – one related to the functioning of the Indian State and the other related to cultural trends in Indian society - are disturbing. Take the governor's letter first. Mr Koshyari, as the constitutional head of the share of Covid-19 cases in India is open to with which Mr Koshyari used the term "secularism", equating it with the closure of state, is perfectly within his rights to correspond with the chief minister, and even make suggestions – including the need to open religious places, though whether this is indeed wise in a state that has had the highest question. But the problem is not the letter or its specific theme; the issue is the contempt religious places. Secularism may be a controversial word for dominant sectIndia's ions o polity, but it is a cherished this does not take away from the importance of the principle. To demean the word is not just to undermine the Preamble, but also encourage a majoritarian conception of the constitutional values. There have been distortions in the practice of secularism, but nation.