Change is the nature of this world, this world is ever changing, mutating, sometimes discreetly, sometimes with very visible implications. Everything in this world, is thus, subject to be a part of this change, and so is the case with our concept of secularism. Laws are idealistic, concepts are idealistic, the Constitution is idealistic, unfortunately, Society is not. How can something such as “tolerance and freedom of all religions” have the same meaning after half a century when even the religions are shifting from their preoccupied loci? As an example, religions too are improvised, take Christianity, there are so many improvised New Testaments of the Bible that if slightly, still have different interpretations of the word of God, Hindu mythology is itself so diverse that it is virtually impossible to worship all the deities and keep in mind all their prayers simultaneously. Add to this the human factor, the human psyche, the general tendency of being sanctimonious, and Secularism in its truest sense becomes nothing more than an unachievable and unrealistic dream.
In this scenario, it is but obvious that the idealistic idea of secularism has a declining trend, just emphasised by the current happenings in Kandhamaal, Orissa or the other states where communal violence has erupted. Political instigation for creating vote banks is one of the biggest reasons for political leaders to etch more deeply the lines between different religions, so deep, that these lines draw blood, blood of the innocents just so that they can win the elections. The masses living in the rural areas are much more naïve and gullible than their urban counterparts, the political leaders exploit this naïveté for their personal benefit and what we have is a boiling pot of a fragile peace ready to erupt any moment, implication, Secularism is turned on its head.
Another very impacting cause of this decline is stereotyping of Religion. Increasing incidents of terrorism has led to Islamophobia, which has led to numerous unwarranted accusations at the whole of Islam just because of a few people who decided to take the law into their own hands. The image of Islam thus created in India is derogatory and insulting at the least, Muslims are viewed with mistrust and suspicion on the streets, in such a case, reciprocation is but natural. When in a group of 5 people there is peace and tolerance, it is because they have a similar thought process, a radical change in thought process of even 1 member of the group leads to an upheaval of the whole group and that is what has happened in India. Our political leaders who have a duty to lead us in the right direction themselves are fuelling these separatist tendencies amongst the masses that it makes India a recipe for total chaos and that is what is evident today, lack of secularism, peace and tolerance.
The irony of this situation is that it is also widely accepted and preached that Change is the nature of the world, but the system most resistant to Change is Society which preaches the former said theory. At this juncture, at the grass-root level, where a Hindu looks at his Muslim neighbour with inherent distrust and ill-disguised hate, and the neighbour reciprocates in kind, what needs to be done is not reminding these two people of the Constitution but to dealing with the causes that have led and will lead to further widening the gap between religions and castes.
[Image courtesy: http://groundnotes.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/6931.jpg]