22 October, 2020

Beyond Secular Cynics

Secularism has failed in India because of its complete divorce from tradition

Sandeep Adhwaryu
Beyond Secular Cynics
"The country with the most impressive and intelligent secularist movement is India," wrote Christopher Hitchens in the respected journal, Daedalus, last summer. Hitchens is a public intellectual who is read and listened to with some admiration on both sides of the Atlantic. He did not explain, but I think what he meant is that Indian secularism has acquired many voices and it seems to be maturing.

It's sobering to remember, however, that Indian secularism was unable to stop the murderous carnage in Gujarat, which may have receded in public memory by the good cheer from a rapidly growing economy and an approaching election, but still remains a blot. There's a change, nevertheless, in the rhetoric of the political class. Amid the usual scramble for seats and alliances, there's healthy silence on religion. The turning point seems to have been the four state elections in November and December, and every politician who has been interviewed in the past eight weeks has talked about "bijli, sadak, pani". Our fondest hope, of course, is that these three words will...


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