1. How does the Western Model of Secularism differ from the Indian Model of secularism? Examine. (GS 1) Features of Western concept of secularism:-
  • State and religion has a separate sphere of its own, with independent jurisdiction i.e. Mutual exclusion of state and religion, principled distance of state from religion and no illegitimate intrusion of religion in the state.
  • The state cannot aid any religious institutions.
  • State cannot hinder the activities of religious communities as long as they are within the broad limits setup by the law of the land.
    • For example – if religious women forbids a woman from becoming a priest, then the states cannot do anything.
    • Like this, if a particular religion forbids the entry of some of its members in the sanctum of its temple, then the states has no option but to let the matter rest exactly where it is.
  • So here the religion is private matter, not a matter of state policy or law. This model interprets freedom and equality in an individualist manner.
  • Liberty is the liberty of individual. Equality is the equality between individuals. There is little scope for community based rights or minority rights.
  • On the other hand drawbacks of this model can be seen as, such states focus on intra-religious domination by strict separation of state from church to realise among other things individual freedoms, issues of inter-religious (and therefore minority rights) equality are often neglected. This model leaves no scope for the idea of the state supported religious reforms.
  • A secular state to be one that “protects all religions but does not favour one at the expense of others and does not itself adopt any religion as the state religion.”
Differences:
  • Indian secularism is fundamentally different from western secularism. It does not focus only on Church- State separation and the idea of inter-religious equality is crucial to the Indian conception.
  • Indian secularism took on a distinct from as a result of an interaction between what already existed in a society that had religious diversity and the ideas that came from the west. It resulted in equal focus on intra-religious and inter-religious domination.
  • Indian Secularism equally opposed oppression of dalits and women within Hinduism.
  • It also opposes the discrimination against women within Indian Islam or Christianity and the possible threats that a majority community might pose to the rights of the minority religious communities.
  • Indian Secularism deals not only with religious freedom of individuals but also with religious freedom of minority communities i.e. individual has the right to profess religion of his /her choice. Likewise, religious minority also have a right to exist and to maintain their own culture and educational institutions.
  • Indian Secularism has made room for and is compatible with the idea of state- supported religious reform. For example- Indian constitution bans untouchability under Article 17.
  • In contrast, in India, the word secular does not imply separation of religion and state. It means equal treatment of all religions.Religion in India continues to assert its political authority in matters of personal law.
  • Indian government financially supports, regulates and administers the Wakf council (Islam), historic Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries, and certain Christian religious institutions; this direct Indian government involvement in various religions is markedly different from Western secularism.
  • In western society, laws are made in isolation from religious principles. However, in India, the law seeks to accommodate the multiple religious principles that followers of different religions adhere to.
    2. Prohibition imposed in certain states are often discriminatory to the weaker sections of the society. Do you agree?(GS 1)
Introduction:
  • The issue of prohibition is gaining momentum. Across India, States are marching towards total prohibition. Prohibition seeks to ban the production and consumption of alcohol in an attempt to control the social consequences of alcoholism.
Prohibition is good for weaker sections because of the following reasons:-
  • Violence against women:
    • The abuse of women’s rights is oftenly related with alcohol consumption. On a national level, 46% women report having experienced violence when they report that their partners consume alcohol, the number is only 25% for those who report otherwise.
  • Adulteration of alcoholbecame an issue too as a result of increase in death rates among people consuming liquor.
  • Increase in crimes: Minority groups or weaker sections of society when unable to find employment took to bootlegging.
However it is discriminatory for weaker sections because:-.
  • Weaker sections are the ones who get more attracted to the adulterated alcohol and some die too.
  • Also they are employed in liquor shops.Prohibition would hamper their employment opportunities.
  • They get involved in bottlelegging and then organised crime to sustain their livelihood.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs because of Prohibition. People in the alcohol business had two options: to find lower-paying work or become criminals.
  • Because alcohol was illegal, its purity was not regulated. While fruit, vegetable, and grain alcohol is usually safe, alcohol made from wood is not but it is difficult to tell the difference until too late.
  • In US Ironically, Prohibition also increased the amount people drank. Drinking has never again returned to pre-Prohibition levels
  • Dance Bar ban imposed in Maharashtra pushed bar girls out of their jobs. Some with no alternative were pushed into prostitution.
What can be done? RTI:-
  • Every citizen of India has a right to have Information from public authorities. The only thing is one need, to seek it. But it was not possible prior 2002 easily. Information was not available freely, smoothly because there was no as such law like RTI Act 2005
Provisions of RTI that act against the misuse of RTI:-
  • Section 8 of the RTI act contains details regarding information which is exempted from RTI’s purview. It generally contains information , release of which could jeopardize national security, communal harmony or foreign relations.
  • The armed forces and some other institutions mentioned in second schedule of the constitution have been exempted from RTI purview so to not hamper their working and also to safeguard security concerns.
  • But if any question arises of corruption and human rights violation there is enough safeguard in the act to call from information from any institution
  • RTI has been given a status of fundamental right under article 19(1) and thus information cannot be denied on flimsy grounds. For example misuse of section 6(3) of the act by which public officers divert their responsibility to other departments is effectively checked by the regulatory mechanism.
However some concerns still remain like (extra points)
  • There were over 32,000 RTI complaints and appeals pending before the commission. This is due to the long pending vacancies of officers at the commission’s office..
  • As the act ensures the citizen to get the information some trivial questions are asked which waste the time of the administration .
  • Some use the Act to blackmail people. This category largely targets illegal buildings, mining, or some other activity that runs foul of the law.
  • Some use it to harass public officials to get undue favours.
  • There is an increasing danger of the Act being amended by gross misinterpretation. While the Indian law is among the best five in terms of its provisions, India is ranked number 66 on performance.
  • Even Supreme Court has mentioned it in KB Bandhopadhyay case for the first time about the misuse of RTI act. There is third party interest as in case of RTI Information is sought on the same subject pertaining to ration card shop as many as 10 times.
  • Misuse of RTI act which discourages honest people, well meaning public servants from giving full expressions to their views.It has hit the institutional efficacy and efficiency.
  • Another incidence of the people misusing the RTI in the way the corrupt people’s exposure in the various scams in the various cities, towns and in village areas. Over here the nexus between the politicians-officials –contractors don’t want to get exposed in that way.
    • They try to use many alternatives by adopting various methods of to stop RTI exposures like murdering the RTI activists, threatening them and even in many cases they have to succumb to further exposure. Thus it is also a kind of misuse of RTI act because of RTI act these people who expose the scams in many cases of different places are getting killed.
  • Incomplete or inappropriate information is provided by the authorities. In the recent cases it has also come into the notice that how authorities are also misusing the RTI. They are either not providing the complete information or giving the information which is half not the proper or full information.
Information is the seed for an idea and only grows when it’s watered. This is true in Indian context .RTI act has served many purposes in the day to day function of the daily administration in the government of India.By using technological support to speeding up the process and providing necessary checks for misuse RTI can only be a boon to the society.