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How can one be secular and communal?
When Narendra Modi was performing 'Ganga Aarti' post his victory from Varanasi, all TVs were telecasting the event lively. Sagarika Ghosh of CNN-IBN tweeted that Modi should have visited the nearby Mosque also. The intention of Sagarika was that Modi should show his secular (?) credentials too! Modi did nothing like that.

Then continuously he was addressing rallies, including his speech in central hall of Parliament, where he refered 125 crore Indians and 'Sab ka Saath and Sab ka Vikash'! His opponents like Shahid Siddique, Kamal Farooqui and even Shashi Tharoor appreciated his speeches and hoped that he would do better for the country.

At the same time many TV channels (CNN-IBN, Times Now, Headlines Today and others) were repeatedly debating whether Narendra Modi can really remain secular and would not buckle under pressure from communal allies and party insiders! What would be the state of Ram Mandir, article 370 and uniform civil code?

Any sane Indian having some knowledge of Constitution cannot deny that, neither article 370 nor uniform civil code is communal or anti-secular. These are actually constitutional subjects! Article 370 is a temporary provision needed to be scrapped in future. Similarly the constitutional mandate is to ensure a common civil code to prevail in the country through negotiations with different communities.

Now as far as the self claimed secular brigade of this country is concerned they always misuse the term 'secular' erroneously and misinterpret it too! One of my earlier articles 'Secularism is a bogey in Indian politics and a tool to fool the public' has clearly explained the exact meaning of terms 'secular', 'communal' and how both the terms are not antonym to each other.

Also it was explained how political people fool the public using this bogey. However, with Narendra Modi at the helm of affairs and his strong faith in his religious values will keep the 'Indian Secular Industry' in spreading confusions among communities. Thus I think again to put some points in front of readers to revisit this secular bogey and some extra points too!

As we know that secular means no concern with religion, in Indian context this western term becomes irrelevant as there is no chance of any church, temple or religious body has any power to intervene in government as per Indian Constitution. Secular term in fact coined to prevent Church’s interference in the governance in western countries.

But in Indian context, as everything of our life including the governance starts at every step involving some religious events such as taking oath in the name of Bhagwadgita /Koran/ Bible or even seeking blessing from God (of any faith with some ritual), we can still define secularism in Indian context. The western meaning of 'no concern to religion' can be revised as 'no concern/favour to any special religion!' That means all religions in addition to all communities (based on caste, creed etc) should be treated at par and no discrimination should be done to any religion/community at all.

The true Hinduism which is a culture in fact believes in cohabitating different cultures/religion peacefully greeting to each other. As a Hindu, I must be proud of my religion, culture and faiths and I have all the rights and freedom to observe my traditions and rituals. At the same time if I should also respect the rights of my fellow country man of different religion, and then I am definitely a secular!

I observe Dussera as an astute Hindu where as I greet a Muslim friend on their Eid! Similarly, a Muslim observes his Roza as an astute Muslim, yet greets his Hindu friends on the eve of Holi and Diwali! This is the way of life in our culture and true secularism in Indian context.

Now let's see the twist in the term! The most hyped scene was when Modi denied wearing the skull cap. What's the message? Does wearing a skull cap by Hindu makes him Secular? If yes, then is a Muslim needs to shave his beards and wear a 'Teeka' on his forehead to proof himself a secular! Isn't it ridiculous! Has Imam Bukhari ever attended any Hindu celebration including Holi! If not how can he be secular as per the meaning of political dictionary!

The Congress leader Mani Shankar Ayer had once said that he had thrown his sacred thread (Brahmin's thread) and ate beef, hence he is a proven Secular. Going by his logic, should a Muslim leave all his religious attire and eat pork to prove his secular credentials? Or it's the Hindus only who have to always prove their secular credentials even through tokenism!

Thus friends, as long as you follow your religious traditions and observe your rituals proudly and astutely, you can't be a communal unless and until you haven't disrespected people of other religion and communities. Thus Imam Bukhari or all such religious leaders including of other minority groups and even Hindus can't be communal unless and until they discriminate, disrespect and obstruct people, rituals and traditions outside of their faith! This is true secularism. A Shankaracharya is equally secular along with an Imam, Pope, Sikh Guru. Only when a religious person or leader spits venom against other faiths, he becomes communal, like Togadias, Owasis etc.

Thus Narendra Modi has got every right to do Ganga Aarti or follow all religious Hindu rituals. He need-not to wear a skull cap or offer Chaddar to Dargahs. He should in fact distance from such tokenism. He would remain true secular till he speaks 'My 125 crore Indians' and aim at 'Sab ka Saath and Sabka Vikash'! Those who still press for tokenism and even try to criticize in such stance; I would call them as anti-secular!

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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