Whither “socialism”, “secularism” and “scientific, “humane temperament” in India

Dr. Subramanian Swamy, a member of rajya sabha (council of states) has filed a writ petition to get  the words “Socialism” and “Secularism” deleted from the Preamble to the Indian. A bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and MM Sundresh posted Dr.Swamy’s petition along with a similar petition(WP(c) 645/2020), listed before the bench of the Chief Justice, for hearing on October 23, 2022.

Bitter truth

India is neither socialist” nor “secular”. India does not care a fig for the socialist principle “to each according to his need, and from each according to his ability”. The Indian tycoon Gautam Adani has been named the world’s third richest person with an estimated $137bn (£117bn) fortune and becomes the first Asian person to break into the top three of world’s wealthy (Indian tycoon Gautam Adani named world’s third richest person, The Guardian, August 30, 2022). “The top 10 of India’s richest control ₹31.71 lakh crore of the ₹66.36 lakh crore wealth owned by 142 dollar billionaires. India’s dollar billionaires are equivalent to 26.67% of the country’s FY22 GDP. Gautam Adani rules the chart, breaking into top five globally, ahead of Bill Gates. Long reigning No.1 Mukesh Ambani is second richest in India” (Fortune India Rich List 2022: The 10 Richest, Sep 17, 2022).

Narendra Modi owes its electoral victory to financial support by the rich. The yearlong farmers’ protest was actuated by perception that “crony capitalism” is hands in glove with Modi.

Scientific and humane temperament

Another bitter reality that caricatures the Indian Constitution is Article 51 A of the Indian Constitution. This unique provision stipulates that it is a fundamental duty, the eighth one, of every citizen in India “to develop a scientific temper, humanism, and the spirit of inquiry and reform”. But, it appears that even after seven decades of independence, Indians are still mired in superstition. Just recall India’s defense minister Rajnath Singh emblazoning a Rafale fighter jet with an ‘om’ and decking it with flowers, coconut, and lemons, purportedly to ward off evil.

Cows venerated as citizens

Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of India’s most-populated Uttar Pradesh state equated cows with human beings. India’s Uttarkhand assembly passed a resolution for “declaration of the cow as Rashtra mate, national mother.”

Muslims and dalit’s run cow slaughter and small-scale beef trade. To deprive the beef-eating minority of a cheap source of food, Uttar Pradesh Hindu-monk chief minister Adityanath launched a crackdown on them in June 2020.

He directed his administration to book the “offenders” under India’s National Security Act. Simultaneously, he approved an ordinance to increase the penalty for cow slaughter up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine up to Rs five lakh.

In October, even the Allahabad High Court expressed ennui at the “frequent misuse” of provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Cow Slaughter Act, 1955, and noted that it was being used to implicate innocent people. Adityanath adamantly responded that his government will “protect cows at any cost” as if the cow were a citizen.

Besides cow-related NSA cases, during the last year 2020, until August 26, a total of 1,716 cases were registered under the Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act and over 4,000 people were arrested.

The NSA was legislated to detain a person without a charge for up to 12 months if he or she was a threat to national security or law and order. The Yogi wants to convert Ayodhya into a Vatican, a Mecca.

Biased data

The National Crime Records Bureau omits data on burning Muslims alive, cow-related lynching, and offenses committed for a religious reason. Hindus believe that Lord Krishna took along a cow from the heavens when he descended on earth.

FIR against a Pakistani “spy” pigeon

According to India Today, a black-and-white-feathered pigeon was caught on April 17 after it perched on the shoulder of Constable Niraj Kumar, who was on guard duty at a post in Roranwala, 500 meters from the border with Pakistan.

Kumar “immediately caught the pigeon and informed Post Commander Ompal Singh”. The commander then searched the pigeon and found a paper with a number starting from 0302.

The BSF directed police to lodge a first information report (FIR) against the pigeon. The BSF could not decode the mysterious number, wrapped with adhesive tape on the pigeon’s left leg.

Senior Superintendent of Police Dhruv Dahiya replied to the BSF that “he did not think FIR could be registered against the pigeon as it was a bird, not a human being”.  However, he clarified, ‘We have referred the matter to our legal experts for their opinion’.

Last year, in May, BSF captured another “Pakistani spy pigeon” and handed it over to police in occupied Kashmir. A Pakistani villager later said he was the owner of the pigeon and refuted the allegation of it being “a spy or a terrorist”.

Earlier, in 2015, also, a pigeon was captured by Indian forces for crossing the Indo-Pak border into India’s Pathankot area.

Other hijinks of the “scientific temper” in India

Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma of Rajasthan High Court surprised reporters by saying, “all doctors are frauds and we could have all been cured of diseases with nothing more than cow’s milk.”

He “urged the Centre to declare cow as India’s national animal and recommended life imprisonment for cow slaughter”. Physicians must have smiled at his assertion that “cow inhales and exhales oxygen”, and “a peacock is a lifelong celibate like Krishna”.

Subsequently, the Rashtriya Sevaksangh held a conclave distributing a pamphlet echoing Sharma’s sentiments. The RSS’s rising influence among all strata of Indian society cannot be ignored.

Huffington Post dated August 3, 2017, published a detailed report on the benefits of cow-and-dung recipes. These recipes included (a) A cow-dung-and-urine beauty soap that could stall aging. Krishna looked like a 12-year-old as he used such soap. (b) Cow dung and urine (gao mutra and gau gober) could prevent radiation when used to construct a bunker or rubbed on a mobile phone. This compound can defuse even an atomic bomb. (c) Pregnant women should have cow dung-urine derivatives for normal delivery.

India’s prestigious Institute of Technology received about 50 proposals from top research institutions across the country to explore the benefits of panchgavya (mixture of cow urine, cow dung, milk, ghee, and curd).

India’s Union Ministry of Science and Technology has constituted a 19-member panel to conduct detailed research on cow derivatives and their benefits. Actor Akshay Kumar remorselessly admitted that he drinks cow urine daily. Cow dung is also used in Hindu religious fire (agni) yajna as an important ingredient.

The Hindutva upsurge

The RSS’s ubiquitous influence in all realms of Indian government has warped gullible Indians’ minds. In a speech Mohan Bhagwat (RSS) asserted that “all Indians were Hindus, denying religious differences and thereby refusing multiculturism inherent in the secularism set out in the constitution. Six months after Modi’s victory, he stated, “The cultural identity of all Indians is Hindutva and the present inhabitats of the country are descendents of this great culture. In 2017, he went so far as to say that , ‘The Muslims in India are also Hindus’, suggesting or implying  that they descended from converts whose blood was “Hindu_ a reconfirmation of the racial dimension of the Hindu nationalist ideology” (Christophe Jaffrelot, Modi’s India, page 168). The RSS is trying to Hinduise the collective Indian psyche through surreptitious changes in syllabi, rewriting Indian history (Aryans were no outsiders), portraying Hindu religious texts as true history of India.

Outcry on persecution

 A “Hindu religious assembly” exhorted people to arms themselves with the latest weapons to carry out Muslim genocide. BJP leaders tell people that growth in Muslim population (with permission to marry four wives) would result in Muslims outnumbering Hindus. Sadruddin Owaisi (Hyderabad) rebutted the contention. He pointed out that Muslim population has in fact declined over the years.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom called for putting India on religious freedom blacklist. The report noticed: ‘In 2019, religious freedom conditions in India experienced a drastic turn downward, with religious minorities under increasing assault’.  Not only Muslims but also Christians, Dalit (downtrodden) and other minorities are persecuted communities.

US Senators’ letters to Secretary of State

Fourteen U.S. Senators sent a letter to the Secretary of State reminding him of the recommendation by US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to designate India a country of particular concern. The Senators went on to demand that “targeted sanctions” be imposed against Indian agencies and officials responsible for escalating religious intolerance and violence. The Senators went on to request the Secretary of State to provide Congress with reasoning as to why the USCIRF recommendations are not being followed and why India is not designated “a country of particular concern”

Concluding remarks

India claims to be a secular country but unfortunately, the country’s legislative history, relating to the issue of conversion underscores the reality that the government always harbored a grudge against conversion. Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Arunachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have passed Freedom [Suppression?] of Religion Acts. A common feature of these anti-conversion laws is that they made so-called ‘forced conversion’ a cognizable offence under sections 295 A and 298 of the Indian Penal Code.

Cognisability of the offence allowed police to harass missionaries and converts under the influence of Hindu fanatics or government functionaries. Some Indian courts intervened to stop the persecution of converts or Christian preachers. For instance, Chief Justice A.N. Ray in Reverend Stanislaus v. State of Madhya Pradesh (AIR 1977 SC 908), and Yulitha v. State of Orissa and others, ruled that propagation is different from conversion. Ray observed adoption of a new religion is freedom of conscience, while conversion would impinge on ‘freedom of choice’ granted to all citizens alike. But the state governments remained nonchalant to the courts’ observations.

To discourage Dalits from converting to Christianity, not only the center but also the Indian states have deprived ‘Dalit Christians’ of minority-status privileges. The courts’ decisions being declaratory (certiorari), not mandatory (mandamus), remained un-implemented. Interestingly, India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (February 1981) advised the state government and union territories to enact laws to regulate change of religion on the lines of the existing Acts in Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Arunachal Pradesh. Such legislations violate the UN Charter of Human Rights which gives a person the right to change his or her religion.

Since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took power in 2014, religious intolerance and anti-Christian violence has surged across India. Six women at Kilipala village in Jagatsinghpur district (Orissa) had their heads tonsured by influential Hindus. Their offence was abandoning Hindu faith at their own free will. The Indian government ordered ‘deportation of three American preachers from the Church of Christ in North Carolina on the first available flight to the US.’

Florets International School in Kanpur’s Gandhinagar area,  owned by Hindu owners, had to be shut down for an indefinite period. An FIR was registered stating that the Schools recites inter-faith, not exclusively Hindu, prayer in morning assembly. According to the school’s principal Ankita Yadav, the school has a long established tradition of beginning its morning session by reciting prayers of four religious faiths (Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian) since the school opened in 2003.  

Amjed Jaaved
Amjed Jaaved
Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been contributing free-lance for over five decades. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is author of seven e-books including Terrorism, Jihad, Nukes and other Issues in Focus (ISBN: 9781301505944). He holds degrees in economics, business administration, and law.