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

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Secularism and the Intellectuals

Secularism and the Intellectuals T N Madan THE last half a dozen years or so have witnessed a heightened interest among Indian intellectuals in exploring the significance of the ideas of 'secularism' and 'secularisation'. This is a welcome development for we have been since independence living on many unexamined or half-examined ideas, which have thus become the 'foundation myths' of our times. Secularism certainly is one of them. Even today it is not clear whether it stands for the rejection of religion as 'false consciousness', or whether it means that the state shall treat the followers of all religions equally, without discriminating against some or favouring others. The ambiguity of connotation is sometimes sought to be overcome by employing the phrase 'Indian secularism' to denote the combination of a multi-religious society and the non-discriminatory state. This and other aspects of secularism merit close and critical scrutiny. Andre Beteille's article 'Secularism and the Intellectuals' (EPW, March 5, 1994) is one of the more thoughtful and lucid expositions of the subject that I have read recently. I trust it will generate a useful discussion.

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