As my Whatsapp account is getting bombarded with images of the preamble of our constitution to celebrate its birth anniversary today, I am forced to ponder over a few words there-in that were (probably intentionally) not written in the revered book by our founding fathers, and yet very few Indians are acknowledging what they actually mean for the nation.
I am sorry to say that it is no longer appropriate to consider 26th November as our Constitution Day, as what was enacted on that date in 1949 is now infected with more than 2000 viruses that have changed it DNA completely.
What we now have is a new species with a fundamentally different DNA, as our constitution is no longer a deed that reflects the religion-agnostic idea of a nation envisaged by our founding fathers.
18th December 1976, the date on which 42nd Amendment that changed the preamble was assented to, must be treated as a new birthdate of a brand new nation. It was a momentous change that brought religion to a nation a conceived without one.
As someone born in a nation that was only “sovereign democratic republic”, the new preamble that has turned India into a “sovereign, socialist secular democratic republic”, 18/12/1976 is a date that changed India forever.
Strange and counterintuitive it may sound, but the insertion of word “secular” in the preamble of our constitution has destroyed the very fundamental idea of India that was expected to keep religion away from the national discourse, as it opened the floodgates that brought religions into the national politics in full force.
Till that date India was almost a unique nation sans religion in its constitution. By avoiding religious reference in the preamble, the founding fathers had brilliantly kept religions outside the meddling of the state, making religion a need-based idea that the state may refer to based on the requirements of making a law.
This deliberate avoidance of religious positioning in preamble is actually in line with religion-specific laws that the nation enacted, as state was not to look at religion beyond the limited idea that it was a quality that placed people in a given group that needed a unique set of laws to function.
It was a fine idea of jurisprudence that addressed a critical need of a diverse nation, i.e. need of different laws for different religions without bringing them on one platform where they are compared with each other.
Cometh the 42nd amendment and the nation change forever.
The state now became a stakeholder in the religion-space of the nation. The insertion of the word “secular” did not mean that state would not interfere in religious issues; instead, it ended up meaning that state must proactively interfere with natural and social dynamics of religions and traditions.
The net result is, secularism became a brand new religion, a dogma worse than any religion as it was given a shin of superiority over all religions. It turned India into a cauldron of simmering faiths and a nation looking for an identity.
The changes brought in the preamble on the fateful day of 18/12/1976 by Indira Gandhi has destroyed the very foundation on which Ambedkar’s truly “secular” nation was built, as it has opened up a Pandora’s box from which far too many demons have escaped now. It may have worked wonders for political parties; it has ensured that every religion is now pitted against the other.
Thanks to this change, politicians have been able to turn into the proverbial monkeys that are eating from the pie while the cats await interference from the state in the name of justice in deciding their share. It is a dream come true for politicians but a nightmare for the nation.
While the idea of insertion of the word “secular” is toasted by the elites, the real truth is, India could have been far more secular without having the word inserted in the preamble. Avoidance of “secular” was a far better route to achieve the coveted idea of separation of church and state.
All that India has achieved thanks to 42nd Amendment is opening up the back door for the state to meddle with religious issues in the name of secularism.
Even though we are a nation teaming with religions and faiths coexisting since eons, we seem to have chosen secularism as an antithesis of Hinduism, the biggest religion that drives the nation. The net result is, Hinduism has ended up bearing the brunt of state interference and is now turning hostile.
What we are seeing today are the initial reverberations of the 42nd Amendment, a change that threw a stone in a vast ocean called India. If we don’t recognize the problem, they may turn into a nation engulfing Tsunami.
We may or may not marry any religion; we need to stop our toxic love affair with secularism, as it is a relationship that has not worked for us.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.