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

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Muslims, Affirmative Action and Secularism

Religion-based preferential treatment in the services of the state is generally argued to be in contradiction with secularism. As a result, the Indian state has relied on a non-preference, non-discrimination framework to address the issues of backwardness and under-representation of Muslims. This article attempts to partially reconcile the contradiction between religion-based preferential treatment and secularism, and it is argued that the determination of welfare policies for religious minorities, particularly Muslims within the non-preference, non-determination framework, either has to be justified in the public philosophy of the state or social justice has to be given a relative preference to secularism, especially when the policies formulated within the non-preference, non-discrimination framework have not proven to be effective in targeting the relative backwardness of Muslims.

A Blasphemy Law is Antithetical to India's Secular Ethos

Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which is an Indian variant of the blasphemy law, violates the secular character of Constitution.

Sandwiched Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru’s tryst with secularism and communal politics may be enumerated through a critical rereading of the religious apprehensions expressed by the Christian community over the question of their right to propagation. Was Indian secularism an effective ideological substitute to communal politics or merely a tactical tool for achieving political gains during Nehru’s times? Nehru’s vision of secularism, in having to negotiate the politics of Hindu fundamentalism as well as Congress majoritarianism, was forced to accommodate the flavours of a majoritarian cultural climate with some preferential treatment to Hindu rights.

Charting Contemporary Sociology

Towards a New Sociology in India edited by Mahuya Bandyopadhyay and Ritambhara Hebbar, Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan, 2016; pp x + 266, ₹ 850.

Silenced and Marginalised

An attempt has been made to demonstrate the linkages between the socio-economic-cultural marginalisation of children and their educational marginalisation. This is achieved through a thick description of the living and working conditions of the children, and the interplay between the factory, residence, school, market, family and other support systems, in order to gauge the social reality of these children.

The Republic of Reasons

Discourse within a constitutional framework alone can be the foundation for a possible solidarity in societies which are vibrant with real diversities and differences.

Nehru's Faith

When religion is being held up as a unique source of faith, we need to remind ourselves that there are other firm foundations upon which we can build moral and ethical projects, in both private and public life. If secularism, as we have recently been told, has multiple meanings, so too does faith. In our own recent history, there is perhaps no better practical instance of the effort to find a non-religious bedrock for morality than that of Nehru himself. Today, as we survey the shattered nationalisms of the Balkans, as we feel collapsing about us the ruins of Arab nationalism, as we see the precipice on which nations like Indonesia balance, it is more important than ever to see the force of what Nehru understood. It is exactly religion's persistence, its fulsome presence as we stumble into the new century that, far from undermining or disproving the force of Nehru's views on the subject, exactly underline their relevance and resonance for us today. On this particular point, he just was right.

Limits of Tolerance

A modern democracy cannot tolerate matters of faith trumping over matters of citizenship rights. There can be no question of tolerance when citizens are denied their status as equal citizens. With an intolerant secularism that insists on the inalienable rights of citizens and on the due process of the law, it is easier to mount public pressure against minority hunters and sectarian killers. Here we cannot make exemptions, or look for mitigating circumstances, on grounds of being a minority or impoverished and unemployed.

Pluralism vs Universalism

Religion and Personal Law in Secular India: A Call to Judgment , Gerald James Larson (ed); Social Science Press, New Delhi, 2001; pp viii+362, index, bibliography, hb, Rs 525.

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