[Summary] Chapter 8 : Secularism | Political Theory – Class 11 – NCERT

Chapter 8: Secularism

  1. Constitution of India declares that every Indian citizen has a right to live with freedom and dignity in any part of the country.
  2. When a community are targeted and victimised on account of their religious identity, basic freedoms of a set of citizens are denied.
  3. Secularism is first and foremost a doctrine that opposes all forms of inter-religious domination…
    • It is a normative doctrine which seeks to realise a secular society
    • it promotes freedom within religions, and equality between, as well as within, religions
  4. secularism opposes all forms of institutionalised religious domination, it challenges not merely interreligious but also intra-religious domination
  5. Democratic state :- a state must not be run by the heads of any particular religion. No official religion of state.
  6. A state governed directly by a priestly order is called theocratic.. Theocratic states lack separation between religious and political institutions
  7. Separation of state and religion is not sufficient for the existence of a secular state.
    • The separation of religion-state is, a necessary but not a sufficient ingredient of a secular state.
  8. To be truly secular, a state must not only refuse to be theocratic but also have no formal, legal alliance with any religion
  9. A secular state must be committed to principles and goals which are at least partly derived from non-religious sources.
  10. These ends should include peace, religious freedom, freedom from religiously grounded oppression, discrimination and exclusion, as also inter-religious and intra-religious equality.
    • To promote these ends the state must be separated from organised religion and its institutions for the sake of some of these values

·         All secular states have one thing in common: they are neither theocratic nor do they establish a religion

·         state will not intervene in the affairs of religion and

·         religion will not interfere in the affairs of the state

·         Each Organ (Judiciary, executive & Legislature) have a separate sphere of its own with independent jurisdiction

§  Strict separation of power exist

·         State cannot aid any religious institution.

§  It cannot give financial support to educational institutions run by religious communities.

§  Nor can it hinder the activities of religious communities, as long as they are within the broad limits set by the law of the land

·         Religion is a private matter, not a matter of state policy or law.

·         This common conception interprets freedom and equality in an individualist manner.

§  Liberty is the liberty of individuals.

§  Equality is equality between individuals

·         There is little scope for community-based rights or minority rights.


·         Indian secularism is different from Western secularism.

·         Indian secularism does not focus only on religion-state separation and the idea of inter-religious equality is crucial to the Indian conception.

·         It also ushered ideas of inter-community equality to replace the notion of hierarchy.

·         It equally focuses on intra-religious and inter-religious domination.

·         Indian secularism opposes the oppression of marginalized section such as women, Dalit, SC ST etc

·         Indian secularism deals not only with religious freedom of individuals but also with religious freedom of minority communities.

·         An individual has the right to profess the religion of his or her choice.

·         Article 29-30 :Religious minorities 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.

§  Indian constitution bans untouchability, abolishing child marriage etc

·         Indian model of secularism does not follow strict separation of power

§  A state initiate or even support religious reforms.

§  Indian secularism allows for principled state intervention in all religions.

·         The Indian state may engage with religion negatively to oppose religious tyranny.

§  Abolition of Sati practice, ban on Triple Talaq, women entry in Sabrimala temple etc

·         Indian Constitution grants all religious minorities the right to establish and maintain their own educational institutions which may receive assistance from the state.


·         Nehru wanted 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”.

·         Nehru was not in favour of a complete separation between religion and state.

·         A secular state can interfere in matters of religion to bring about social reform.



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