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10 Apr, 2014

Building a culture of tolerance – The Hindu

What has complicated the project of secularism in India are two issues. First, the state may be neutral towards religion, but this does not mean that state actors and individuals in society are neutral towards religion. Second, there is no agreement in India that religion should be relegated to the private sphere. In fact, the opposite is true. Indians, of all religions, pray in large numbers in varying frequencies every week and they do so collectively and in public. This has meant that political appeals are often made through religious spaces and spokespersons.

In India, the state cannot afford to be indifferent to religion because societal and individual decisions are still dictated by religious conditioning and imperatives. What has emerged over 65 years of muddling through this issue of secularism and religion is that religious neutrality has become an accepted behavioural script for the state, but not for society and certainly not for individuals (even when they are state actors).

This fate of the secular script is currently in the limelight.

Read the rest: Building a culture of tolerance – The Hindu.