India 's The Indian State

1585 Words Nov 7th, 2014 7 Pages
The Indian state, while ostensibly secular, nevertheless has institutionally always been set up to intervene in religious affairs. The Indian constitution “enshrines the right to individual freedom of religion, [but] also empowers the state to intervene in Hindu religious institutions.” (Sen 16) The constitution, for instance, calls on the state to ban untouchability, an abhorrent Hindu practice, establishing affirmative action to help certain disadvantaged religious groups and puts in place separate personal laws for different religious groups. (Sen 16) These policies allow institutions like the government, and the courts to intervene in communal issues, making the government a player in conflicts like the Babri Masjid. The Congress party, while a secular party, was consequently involved in decision-making that would favour either the Hindus or the minorities. India’s Supreme Court was also involved in legislating on religious affairs. As Sen writes, India’s version of secularism can be traced back to the debates in the Constituent Assembly, where the constitution was drafted in the late 1940s. The Assembly saw a lot of debate over what form this secularism would take. “There were several voices in the Assembly, including that of B.R. Ambedkar, who wanted to severely restrict the role of religion in the public sphere. Hence, scientist K.T. Shah raised the demand that there be an article expressly stating that the Indian state has ‘no concern with any religion, creed or…
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