C4 Politics and Society

Topics of interest for CSE:

  1. Nation, democracy and citizenship.
  2. Political parties, pressure groups, social and political elite.
  3. Regionalism and decentralisation of power.
  4. Secularisation.

History and Sociology P1 should make do for the first three topics.


The western idea of secularism as envisioned by enlightenment thinking is often described as a branch of utilitarian ethics designed for the physical, social, and moral improvement of mankind, which neither affirms nor denies the theistic premises of religion. The process of secularisation of life and thought consists of the withdrawal and separation of religion from other spheres of life and thought. Secularism affirms the worth of this worldly existence, the independence of scientific knowledge, and human happiness as the only legitimate aims of social institutions.

Eric S Waterhouse - the relation of secularism to religion was understood as mutually exclusive rather than hostile. Secularism’s only concern is that the world be known by experience and reason.

Bryan Wilson defines secularisation as the process in which different social institutions become recognised as distinctive concerns operating with considerable autonomy. It is also the process of decline in religious activities, beliefs, ways of thinking and institutions. He mentions three features of a secular society:

  • Prevalence of instrumental values (values are means to an end).
  • Rational procedures.
  • Technological methods.


Dixit says that communalism is a political doctrine which makes use of religio-cultural differences to achieve political ends.

Yerankar says that it represents a heightened sense of community feelings implying excessive loyalty to one's own religion and its related dimensions.

Indian Secularism

Secularism in Indian tradition is not the opposition of religion but is related to communalism. While in Europe, being mono-religious, secularism was the opposition of religion as there was no struggle for between various communities. This is the crucial difference between secularism in Europe and India. In Europe there was a struggle between Christians and the church, while in India it was between two religious communities.

Narain says that in India, leaders of both communities emphasised justice in power sharing without questioning the religious authority of either community at any stage.

Secularism as an idea came to India during colonial times. While in the west it signified a political authority totally independent of the church, in India it grew amid the context of religious pluralism. Secularism was emphasised by the Congress to allay the fears of religious minorities. Indian secularism never collided with religion or religious authority, rather it drew upon religion and religious institutions to reinforce political processes. Ex. Tilak and the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.

N Chandoke says it was not a secularism that commands the separation of religion and politics but a secularism that ensures the equality of all faiths. In other words "sarv dharma sambhav".

Leaders of the nationalist movement in India knew that religious idiom, symbols and talk of religion being in danger would have much greater appeal for masses than any secular ideology, thus, secularism in indian context implied a total rejection of communalism but accepted the desirability and importance of religion in a person’s life.

Satish Chandra says that secularism arose in the context of the concerns of the leaders about the nature of India’s nationhood and the basis on which this unity could be preserved. It sought to mediate between the interests of various communities, and posited an Indian state where the followers of any religion wouldn't be favoured nor discriminated against. Emphasis was on accommodation of all religions rather than separation of church and state.

The Indian constitution via the 42nd ICAA inserted the word secular in the preamble. Along with this, the commitment of the constitution makers to accommodating religious minorities can be seen in A14, A15, A25-28, and A30. The constitution has erected a wall of separation between religion and state and while there are no doors opening from the side of religion, many open from the side of the state.

In the present context pseudo secularism has come to denote appeasement of minorities in the name of maintaining a secular stand. Secularism has been made a perjorative as sickular.

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