India does not accept any religion as state religion. India maintains absolute neutrality and impartiality towards all religions. Hence India is a perfect example of a secular state-flanked by theocracies in the East and West.
A secular state does not seek to regulate human’s relations with God or his spiritual aspirations. Secularism is concerned with the regulation of men’s social relations.
The provisions relating to “Right of Freedom of Religion” of the Articles 25 & 28 of the Constitution of India make India a secular state. To make assurance doubly sure, the 42nd amendment of the constitution inserts the term “secular” in the preamble of the constitution.
Hence on the question of religion, India’s position is:
- India has no state religion,
- State does not discriminate between religions,
- State cannot impose any tax to promote a religion or to maintain religious institution,
- Religious instructions cannot be imparted in educational institution run by state funds and
- In educational institutions recognized by the state and receiving aid from the government, religious instructions cannot be compulsorily given to an unwilling students. In educational institutions run by religious establishments, religious instructions can be given only to students willing to receive it. Religious instructions can be given to the minors only with the express consent of their guardians.
Article 25 of Indian Constitution grants freedom to every citizen of India to profess, practice and propagate his own religion. The constitution, in the preamble professes to secure to all its citizen’s liberty of belief, faith and worship.
Article 25 (1) allows every citizen to freely follow his own religion, subject to public order, morality and health. Thus in the name of religion, committing sati or infanticide cannot be permitted.
The Hindu religious institutions of a public character must be thrown open to every Hindu. Caste system or untouchability cannot be practised in the case of entry into public Hindu temples.
Besides these rights to the individuals to profess, practice and propagate religious of their choice, religious groups or denominations are given four rights. These are right to
- establish and maintain institutions for religions and charitable purposes;
- to manage its own affairs in matters of religion;
- to own and acquire movable and immovable property, and
- to administer such property in accordance with law. (Article 26 of Constitution of India).
The net position thus is, every individual citizen in India has full freedom of religion. No one is subjected to any social, economic or political discrimination simply on grounds of religion. Discrimination in public employment on grounds of religion is prohibited by Article 16. Thus, every citizen of India is entitled for equality opportunity for public employment. The religious minority, is given the right to establish and maintain educational, charitable and religious institutions with minimum of interference by the state. Thus no body is entitled to question the secular character of the Indian polity.
The correct position is—while every individual is free to profess, practice or propagate a religion of his choice; conversion secured through force, fraud or allurement is certainly unwelcome.
The constitution takes every care to protect the religious minority community. In order that culture and religion of the minority community is not swamped by these of the majority community.
Article 29 of the Indian constitution assures that the state shall not impose on a minority community any culture other than its own. Further, citizens of India cannot be denied admission in State aided or State managed educational institutions on the basis of religion, caste, race, etc.
Art. 30 grants the minority community, the right to establish and administer their own educational institution. The state will make no discrimination in matter of aids to such institutions. All these go to show that Indian secularism is flawless and that rights of the minority is fully protected in India.