GS Paper 2 : Comparison of Indian Constitutional Scheme
Qn. “How different is secularism in Indian Constitutional scheme different from ‘laicite’ in the France ? (150 words )
Why this Question ?
The Question has been asked in the context of the murder of the French school teacher Samuel Paty by a radical Islamist on the grounds that cartoons depicting prophet Mohammed was shown to students by the school teacher Samuel Paty.
The Question tries to bring into focus the tensions in the French Society on account of the strict and hard form of secularism that is practised in France.
The Question tries to bring out the differences between the concept of Secularism as practised in India and France.
How to proceed further answering this Question ?
An introduction to this question should mention that while both India and France are secular polities, however there are fundamental differences in the way secularism is practised in France as compared to the secularism that is practised in India.
Point of difference between French Secularism and Indian Secularism
French Secularism is based on the principle of ‘laicite’ . It means the complete divorce of religion from matters of the state.
French Secularism is based on the principle of non-interference of the state into matters that are religious in nature.
French people are considered to citizens of France and nothing more in the public sphere. ‘Laicite’ does not allow the co-existence of any other identities along with the national identity in the public domain. No wonder the Government tries to prohibit the outward display of religious identities in the form of visible hijab and burqa.
In the Indian Context
State actively interferes in matters that are religious in nature – Outlawing certain religious practices, managing Hindu Temples etc.
State does not prohibit the citizen from exhibiting his religious identity in the public domain. Religious identity co-exists with national identity in India.
State does not have any hostility towards religion. Infact the state maintains an arm’s length equal distance from all religions. The state provides subsidy to Haj pilgrims, it organizes durga puja and kumbh mela out of state resources. However the state does not favour one religion over another.
These differences should be seen in the context in which secularism had emerged in both the nations. Secularism in France was a forced form of secularism due to the hostility between the church and the state whereas in India, the secular nature of the state is due to the secular nature of the society that was shaped as a result of innumerable religious practices in India.