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Fighting for Separation of Religion and State in India
Submitted by admin on 7 June, 2005 - 17:56
Nearly 1000 volunteers form different states of India participated in a demonstration – dharna – in April 2005 in support of Secularism on Parliament Street in New Delhi. There is a need for Political parties to come up with urgent solutions for the problem that religion is posing to Indian society. The dharna as well as the National Seminar on Separation of Religion from Politics that was organised by the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations (FIRA) representing 65 Humanist, Rationalist and Atheist organizations from 20 Indian states aimed to put the focus on Secularism in Indian society.
The dharna started with Mr. B.Premanand’s inaugural address exposing the dangers of religious fundamentalism, communalism and religious terrorism. Though India has a largely secular Constitution, in practice it is different because the vast majority of the people are religious or communal. The unscientific attitude of the masses due to illiteracy and religious orthodoxy are fertile grounds for the spread of superstition and communal tendencies. The vast majority of people are as yet ill-equipped to defend India's Secular Constitution as well as their own freedom or religion or belief. Mr. Premanand explained that this was why FIRA was circulating a draft Bill for Separation of Politics from Religion – it had already been sent to all the Cabinet Ministers of the Central Government in advance of the demonstration.
The draft Bill has four main parts. It demands Separation of Religion from Government. “The government at all levels, and all of its departments, boards, commissions, establishments, and under takings shall keep no connection with any religion and shall not consider religion in any administrative or developmental issues. State Funds shall not be used or spent for any issues of any religion.” The Bill clarifies that Secularism is not anti-religious; but only non-religious.” Calling on the state to adopt a Secular philosophy, the Draft Bill lays down a Secular Civil Code for all citizens of India, irrespective of religion. The second aspect of the Bill is that it proposes Separation of Religion from Politics. “No political party can simultaneously be a religious party”. All communal political parties will be derecognised under the Bill. The third aspect of the Bill is Separation of Religion from the Education System. The BJP, a lead partner of the previous NDA government, did everything possible to communalize the educational system. Their aim was to pollute the fresh young minds, and secularization of education therefore, is an urgent necessity in India. The fourth aspect of the Bill is that it demands Separation of Religion from the Legal System. The Bill also proposes a Judicial Commission which shall be constituted to monitor the effective implementations of this act at all levels and provides for government initiatives for creating "awareness programmes against religious riots, extremism, terrorism and genocide".
Frightening Statistics Revealed at National Seminar
Humanist and Civil Rights leader N.D.Pancholi inaugurated the Seminar in which many political leaders participated, All speakers stressed the necessity of the Bill, because of aggravating communal and extremist politics. Prof: Narendra Naik, President of FIRA presided over the Seminar which brought out frightening statistics on the role of religion in India.
Since 1947 when India became independent, the total number of Communal Riots in the country were 25,230 which is about 460 riots per year. The situation has not been improving with time: in Gujarat state alone, since 28th February 2002, over 2,000 people have been massacred, 270 Mosques destroyed, and nearly 150,000 people were rehoused in protection camps following attacks on them. 2,400 houses have been destroyed and 2,100 shops ruined. Hundreds of thousands of people fled their family homes to save their lives – and the Hindu communal BJP government did nothing to help the victims, mostly from the Muslim minority.
But Muslim militant groups too are flourishing – even though an Islamic terrorist organization called Simi was banned after riots in Kanpur city, there are still 12 Islamic terrorist students groups supporting Osama Bin Laden. Islamic fundamentalists reject democracy, socialism and secularism, and call for a theocracy. This is similar to the militant Sikhs who were calling for a State based on the Khalsa – their religious beliefs. Over 21,000 people were victims of the Sikh religious extremism separatist movement. Following the Sikh extremism, nearly 35,000 deaths have occured in Kashmir following the infiltration of Islamic terrorist groups into the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
In the year 2001-2002 a total of 48,710 million Indian Rupees (1,082 million US Dollars) were received from foreign sources by Non Government Organisations in India – of this 17,760 million Rupees (over 390 million US Dollars) were received by religious organisations. Saudi Arabia alone gives 10,000 million Indian Rupees (222 million) US Dollars to Islamic groups in the country. In the same year the Christian group Gospel of Asia got Rs.989 million Rupees (21 million US Dollars) while World Vision of India received 884 million Rupees (19.5 million US Dollars). The Satya Sai Trust received 882 million Indian rupees.
The Seminar ended with a call for immediately ensuring the strict separation of religion and state for the sake of the unity of the country and for the freedom of all citizens.
U. Kalanathan is a Humanist and Rationalist from Kerala and is National Secretary of FIRA.