You are here:
ONLINE BOOKS > GANDHI AND COMMUNAL PROBLEMS > Communal relations in free India > Secular State
28. SECULAR STATE
Challenge to Hinduism
THE HINDUS want Swaraj in India, and not a Hindu Raj. Even if there is a Hindu raj, and toleration one of its features, there will be place in it for the Musalmans as well as the Christians.
Undoubtedly, there should be no untouchability what so ever in Hinduism, no scheduled classes, therefore, in India, no caste divisions whatsoever in the eyes of law. Hindus are all one, no high or law. All the neglected classes such as the scheduled classes, the so called aboriginal classes, should receive special treatment in the matter of education, housing etc. On the electoral roll they will be one. This must be never mean a worse state than the present, but better in every way. Will Hinduism come up to the high level or will it court extinction by hugging infamous superstitions and aping bad manners?

Complete Secularism?
There are indications that all is not well with the Musalmans. Some Hindus are now beginning to feel that they have the upper hand, and some Musalmans are afraid that they will have to pay the underdog in the Union today. This will be shameful indeed. If minority in India, minority on the score of its religious professions, is made to feel small on this account, I can only say that this India is not the India of my dreams. In the India for whose fashioning I have worked all my life, every man enjoys equality of status, whatever his religion is. The State is bound to be wholly secular. I go far as to say that no denominational educational institution in it should enjoy State patronage.

Cultural Democracy
All subjects will thus be equal in the eye of the law. Be every single individual will be free to pursue his own religion without let it hindrance, so long as it does not transgress the common law. The question of the protection of minorities is not good enough for me; it rests upon the recognition of religious grouping between citizens of the same state. What I wish India to do is to assure liberty of religious profession to every single individual. Then only India can be great, for it was perhaps the one nation in the ancient world which had recognized cultural democracy, whereby it is held that the roads of God are many, but the goal is one, because God is one and the same. In fact, the roads are as many as there are individuals in the world.

Correct Conduct
We must not produce a State in which respectable life is impossible and still claim that we do not want the Muslims to go. If, in spite of really equal treatment they choose to go to Pakistan, it is their own look-out. There should be nothing I n our behaviour to scare India and save Muslims. We should be correct in our conduct. Then we can serve India and save Hinduism. We cannot do so by killing the Muslims or driving them away or suppressing them in any way.

Education
Take the Hindu-Muslim question. The poison has assumed dangerous proportions, such that is difficult to forecast where it will land us. Assume that the unthinkable had happened and that not a single Muslim can Sikh can do likewise in Pakistan. Our education will then wear a poisonous form. if, on the other hand, Hindus, Muslims and all others who may belong to different faiths can live in either Dominion with perfect safety and honour, then in the nature of things our education will take a shape altogether pleasing.

Democratic State
Freedom without equality for all irrespective of race or religion is not worth having for the Congress. In other words, the Congress and government representative of the Congress must remain a purely democratic, popular body leaving every individual to follow that form of to religion which best appeals to him. Without any interference from the State. There is so much in common between people living in the same state under the same flag, owing undivided allegiance to it. There is so much in common between man and man that it is a marvel that there can be any quarrel on the ground of religion. Any creed or dogma which coerces others into following one uniform practice is a religion only in a name, for a religion worth the name does not admit of any coercion. Anything that it does under coercion has only a short lease of life. It is bound to die. It must be a matter of pride to us, whether we are four anna congress members or not, that we have in our midst an institution without a rival which disclaims to become a theocratic State, and which always believes and lives up to the belief that the State of our conception must be a secular, democratic State, having perfect harmony between the different units composing the State.

Land of Hope and Promise
Has not the Quaid–i-Azam said that Pakistan was not a theocratic State and that it is purely a secular State? That the claim cannot always be justified in action is, unfortunately, too true. Is the Union to be a theocratic State and are the tenets of Hinduism to be imposed on non Hindus? I hope not. The Indian Union will then cease to be a land of hope and promise, a land to which all Asiatic and African races look, indeed the whole world. The world expects not littleness and fanatism from India whether as the Union or Pakistan. It expects greatness and goodness from which the whole world can derive a lesson and light in its prevailing darkness.