Secularism , Pseudo-secularism etc

This is a temporary post to possibly have a debate on secularism Vs pseudo-secularism.

Around 2002, MPs of RJD were struggling to pronounce this word…The supposedly law makers had problem in problem in pronouncing this word, but it had become the new liberation…Our law makers were swearing by the word…It helped them to get over their shady pasts into a new light.

The “Word” was debated in Indian parliament, when apparently it was introduced in emergency period. ( why during emergency?). Nepal was also become secular during sort of an emergency, just after Maoists threw out the king. The meaning of the word secular remained undefined when it was debated in Indian parliament.

A decade into secular noise since late 1990s , it has been the new sacred, it is utopian/egalitarian…In Indian context, how we could be neutral, we could respect all the religions as good humans. However, when it was debated in parliament and a definition of respect towards all religions couldn’t be agreed upon, who had the opposition ? From where did get the intellectual analysis to block a passage of “secularism meaning respect to all religions”. When this equation was blocked, what did the intellectual supporters who introduced secularism do ? Was this people who were powerful to get the constitution changed in such a fundamental way, lost their focus in defining this word “secularism” ?

I had an NRI activist friend(?), who made secularism as one of the primary criteria ( in 2000s, when popularity of secularism was not widespread) in an organization. he got a definition that it would mean unaffiliated with organizations ( religuious?) . We seemed to have a lot in common, except that he was sure of secularism, I thought it meant some thing different. Five years later this person declared himself to be a marxist, when the maoists had gained an important victory back in his home state.

An above average college student, who respected me and had come for some advice, confused secularism with the big malls in delhi. He thought flashy Malls are violation of secularism.

So is there something going on with secularism that we don’t know ? What it could mean when one says that a bull run in the market is a secular market/run, what relation it has with the secular progressive ? What are the ways we could evaluate this question?

I think secularism is driven by philosophical analysis, which has its base incorrect. It is this analysis that managed to recruit Indians to push through the amendment in an emergency period ( for goor or bad is a different issues), it is these fundamentals that cordinates the maoists in nepal and one of the very first things it does in Nepal to declare it secular. I think it is this ideology which has blocked the explanation of secularism: as respect to all religions- in Indian parliament.

I think secularism as a principle is fairly consistent with a margin of aberrations. As I understand from basic of secularism, I don’t think the Maoists killing machine are incorrect when they claim them to be secular progressive. If it looks good in certain situation ( for example a Maoist in Afghanistan) , then it is because of some gains. As a faith and description of reality…which is how secularism is positioned in india…this is a big fraud and I think it needs to be avoided.


4 Responses

  1. dhara,

    The problem with labeling p-secs are seculars is that you walk into their trap. You should not be gullible enough to fall for that. A p-sec is a p-sec. I never said that there is no problem with p-secs. There is definitely a problem with them. What I was saying is that people like you unwittingly become their propagandists by propagating their claim.

    p-secs are not secularists. Examples of secularists include Richard Dawkins, Ibn Warraq and many leading scientists. P-secs include Karunanidhi, HS Surjeet (notice he wears a turban) and a number of people who love Mohammedanism. Why do you insist on elevating the latter crowd by equating them with the former?

    When you equate the two, you’re doing the p-secs a great service. One of the best things that happened was the invention of the word pseudosecularism. Please use the word.

    As for philosophical analysis in the Indian Constitution, there is none. It is a shoddily written copycat Constitution which copy-pasted stuff from various Constitutions. Those who wrote the Constitution even copied the debates from the Americans! If ever there was a prize for the most inferior and immature document, the Indian Constitution would win it.

    In the 70s, whatever Indira Gandhi said was the law. That is how the word “secular” made it to the Indian Constitution. Of course, it was meant to appease the Mohammedans.

    The American Constitution has 27 amendments, but the first 10 (the Bill of Rights) came together with the Constitution and the last one was ratified 202.5 years after it was submitted and so should be counted with the 10. Effectively, it was amended 16 times. All the amendments have to do with running the system and providing checks and balances. For example, the last one makes a provision that increase in salaries for Senators and Congresspersons can come into effect only after the succeeding election for the Representatives who made it into law.

    OTOH, the Indian Constitution has been amended nearly a hundred times in the past 58 years. Generally, Indian politicians are also dumb and do not understand the concept of the separation of powers. Contrast with the 27th amendment described above the fact that Indian politicians actually award themselves money for projects in their constituencies. In other words, this is a classic example of not separating the executive from the legislature and giving rise to conflict of interest. Constitutional amendments in India compete with each other for the most idiotic idea ever thought of.

    I’ve digressed quite a bit because you brought up the topic of the Constitution. In the West secularists rightly oppose idiotic personality cults. In India, secularism is a euphemism for treating Hindus as second rate citizens while having pro-Mohammedan and pro-Christist policies. So please do not equate the two.

  2. Hi Aravind,
    Lot of thanks for posting your response. I think we are grown ups, so that if I err a little, it shouldn’t mean to be offending. If you are author of “regular dose of pseudosecularim” :), then let me tell that I rate your writing as my favorite..lot of thanks for that report.

    Got several points to answer different perspectives… probably you would be interested in the last one…It needs a lot more explanation…. but it is about the nature of secular universe or lack of it…

    1- If we have these opportunist people who call it secularism in India, then should they be judged by that aspect. Why the western secularists are not disowning them. In contrast, NY Times articles during saffronization debate appeared to be endorsing the racial categories that was identified with secularism…

    2- In 19th century, one of the popular books in europe on sociology/anthropology was about racial analysis of India. In 1900 census British included it in the census. In 1930s, we had these theories preached from sociology books produced by Indians. Since Neheruvian days, it has been the race with class of socialism. in 2000s, it is NY Times who endorsed the racial categories ( Boston globe had on report on racial categories).

    I find secular western arguments defending MaxMueller ( I had a couple of arguments in MaxMueller’s wiki page) – that is the world view of progressive through blocks of race( more often by fighting) is defended today. I suspect more…there is a library in Harvard Anthropolgy(?), which has some kind of export restrictions…I suspect that library probably contains kind of skull and race data ( I shall visit if I go to usa/boston and have some free time).

    All this brings in the question…Was there anything systematic in India? …The thing is if it was, then there hasn’t been much western support to it…Rather west has lead in describing India through fighting of races and classes.

    In his book on transcendental logic, Immanuel Kant offers one line about how Indians knew had logical ideas on issues of god…[I can’t be explicit here…], yet it is one line buried in a single book…and that is overwritten by the secular school and rational Indians don’t know any thing about the subject of such transcendental proof..

    It is difficult to fathom if Mills could understand little basics of hinduism …yet, he is considered highly in today’s western academics.

    From where did Karunanidhi got his arguments ? These race arguments were all debated in europe…From where did Harkishen Singh Surjeet got his ideas of extrapolating class to find universal history and Utopian economy ( that is if he got those ideas, which I doubt). From where do people get the political role of state , religion, language etc ? This is the reason I mentioned the maoists in Nepal and secularism…As you mentioned, these people just copy stuff…Along with they copied maoism, violence, and slander.

    Few years back a bunch of people were making atheist and secular libraries…In a small news item it was mentioned that they got the books of Mills…

    Why was Mills or MaxMuellers were so confident on giving universal histories…Could it be because they were sure of the world , humans and the way it progressed in history and would do in future ? What is the kind of the universe they were sure of ?

    In conclusion of this set, the arguments of Karunanidhi mayn’t have been manufactured by himself. It is linked to colonial days… You can’t fight with these socialist scholars in India, unless you have framework to defeat their masters in west…for these secular people like DN JHA, Thapper etc are copycats.

    3- A Practical difficulty:
    The Maoists could be identified as pseudo-seculars before the western intellectual…But calling them pseudo secular would beg an explanation of what is secular.

    The progressive secularism that the colonial historians like Mills used, might have depended on certain geometry of nature, selective events such as war, probably in a classical framework.

    The Indian secularism relied with caste…Basically Lalu Yadavs were picked up for these caste organizations. few even know secularism through whatever logical framework…for general it means caste…some times becoming equal with muslims.

    In this situation, why should one be answering what is secularism ? Let the p-secs ( or sickulars 🙂 ) answer that.

    4- To look at it positively…

    So what would be the perfect secularism ? I find this question is like asking the faithful as what is god…They will point to the heirachy…
    Following is my expression on secular universe….
    My research with limited books and time points to the idea that secular is associated with a rational …probably as the nature of rational. While it sounds one thing while Mr Dawkins makes an argument on reason, the devil is in an apparent assumption of a rational universe, which is being related to humans in a way simillar to as hypothesized by descartes…In my opinion, scientifically this limits the nature and depends on simplification …[ An Hindu objection would be about the question of observation and its place in the universe]. Explanations of the rational universe comes from western thinkers, who generally appreciate the material and Newtonian description of the universe…one reason why they call it scientific. In my opinion when a corrupted maoist lawyer who avoided maths, but talks of rationality, he refers to confidence in this rational universe.
    Americans are very sensitive when such rational economic/sociological description explains – they cling to god because of economy. But Indians are constantly being herded into simple logical constructs of welfare economics working on human objects, just like objects of races such as aryans moved place to place.

    In any case, This universe of moving objects is one thing..It is another thing when these are applied to humans as objects…It becomes more complicated if human observation of object makes a human different…in ways that is not Dependant on the object. If I pursue this line of argument, then I would reach at a different set of priorities and perception ….Here one line of arguments appear less important. However I appreciate your concerns, because I don’t want organized religious groups to be arguing this drawback of perception to me….consequently I would delete the item-4 from this blog later.

  3. Hi dhara,

    Yes, I send out the 4m report. And I don’t feel offended at all. If I did, I wouldn’t be coming to your blog!

    I see that there are two distinct issues here – Western secularism and Indian pseudo-secularism. We should not confuse the two. You can count people like Christopher Hitchens and Pat condell (search for him on youtube if you haven’t heard of him) who oppose both Mohammedanism and Christism among secularists.

    You can disagree all you want with the assumptions and the framework of people like Dawkins, but you’re only doing a favor to people like Karunanidhi by equating him with Dawkins. Karunanidhi is no Dawkins, he is a hate-filled leader of a hate group. That is the point I was making.

    As to your question on why the West doesn’t disown Indian p-secs. To be fair, the don’t care one way or other. There are definitely commie-leaning leftists in the West as there are those sympathetic towards Islam. Many journalists would fall in this category, but the NYT journalists who are rabidly anti-Hindu are no logical machines – they carry within them the prejudice inculcated in them by their Christist culture. That is one component. The other component is that they just go by what the establishment in India feeds them.

    The Indian establishment is a problem, but you are correct in stating that people like Romila Thapar merely ape the West. In fact, they pull out articles highlighting differences between the Whites and Blacks and replace blacks by Dalits and Whites by upper-caste Hindus. Application of this method was the reason for Suzanne Arundhati Roy’s claim that Hindus in Gujarat had ripped apart the belly of a pregnant woman and killed the fetus and then stamped on it. This manufactured allegation was first made in reports against the US troops in Vietnam. It has found its way into reports on Kashmir, Kosovo and East Timor. So yes, Suzanne Arundhati Roy is a plagiarist.

    On the Aryan theory and the defence of Max Muller, this is no way the product of secular colonialists. It is a religious theory and has its roots in the claims that all humans on earth are descended from one of the three sons of Noah. The descendants of one of the sons, Japheth, are supposedly the Aryan Race. Even the allied field of philology was developed with a biblical motive. The motive was to “prove” that all languages came out of the Tower of Babel in Central Asia.

    You can see several scanned pages from the works of Muller and William Jones at that highlight this point. You are right that the Western “scholars” have to be defeated first. That is exactly what CAPEEM’s case seeks to do. You can see that all the Western “scholars” who are hateful towards Hindus have connection to the church.

    Maoists are definitely p-secs. They are on the side of Mohammedans. Someone who is truly secular would not support the Mohammedans. Besides, it is not that the world is divided into two camps. There are at least 3 violent groups in the world – Christists, Mohammedans and Communists. Identify a conflict anywhere in the world and one of these groups is involved. That is the startling truth.

  4. Thanks a lot for your insights.

    I have appreciated many times your writing, and kind of a fan of yours 🙂

    I think the arguments put by Mr Christopher Hitchens often fails to capture all the imagination. That is not to deny a lot …that can be appreciated in his efforts..However his depiction of the moral issues in Serbia may have helped spreading slander against the “orthodox ” serbs, when he may have failed to spread awareness about the vandalization and cleansing of Serbian orthodox from Kosovo….It is tempting to compare BBC…who before the Vajpayee govt came to power, usually put a disclaimer that Pakistan denies supporting terrorism…

    About comparison, I should try to be compared with closeness to the feet of Sri Rama. Consequently one could plead to be away or at least examine transcendence of some of the relational structures postulated in different systems.

    Thanks for insisting that comparison between Karuna Nidhi…who is a political operative in dark …and people who examine an argument in whatever system. Discretion is good, and thanks for your advice, I would try to make that distinction.

    Thanks for your arguments here … Wish you a very good day….


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