When people in India debate secularism and communalism they often forget that secularism isn't one well-defined entity. There are three distinct forms of secularism.
The form that India has followed allows for differences in laws across religions, especially personal laws. It allows for children to be indoctrinated in religious institutions instead of being educated in schools. It allows for the rights of women to be crushed in the name of religion. It creates a divide between people of different religions through the laws themselves. This is not secularism.
If you do not support equal treatment of all citizens under law, you are not secular.
The second form of secularism is what China followed under the rule of Chairman Mao from 1949. The state actively suppressed religion in an attempt to create an atheist, secular state. Though this does lead to equality, it also crushes personal freedom. Secularism of this form would likely not be palatable to most Indians who hold religion as an essential part of their lives.
The third form of secularism is where the State is neutral in the matter of religion. All people are free to follow whatever religion they want, but laws remain the same for everyone. The state neither promotes nor suppresses any religion. This is what the USA and most European nations adopted and is the predominant form of secularism in the developed world.
If you do not support equal treatment of all citizens under law, if you do not support a secular education designed to inculcate rational thought instead of dogma, if you do not support neutrality of the State and a bar on state funding for any religion, you are not secular.
To be a truly secular State, India must ensure equality under law for all its citizens. It must also stop State funding for all religious purposes and mandate that children are given a proper secular education. If people who claim to be secular also preach special treatment for specific segments of society based on religion they must rethink how India's secular fabric is impacted by this. Do these privileges strengthen Indian society or do they only increase the division in our already polarised society?
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