ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Himanshu RoySubscribe to Himanshu Roy

Western Secularism and Colonial Legacy in India

In the west, secularism emerged as a protest movement of the 'oppressed' against a theocratic state for individual freedom. With the expansion of capitalism and trade, it was largely the bourgeoisie and merchant capitalists who championed secularism, though minorities continued to live in a segregated fashion in European states that remained, in essence, theocratic. While secularism as a notion denoting the separation of religion and state was accepted by the early Congress moderates in India, this idea of secularism, however, underwent a change with the impact of colonial policies, and the response of different sections of Indians to colonial rule. In colonial India, identity based on religion, as with other identities, became essential markers to secure privileges in a government that was ostensibly based on liberal political ideas derived from the west. In post-independent India, this has led to secularism acquiring a changed meaning: the idea that all religions shall be treated equal.
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