NCERT Class 8 Civics Chapter 2 - Understanding Secularism

Chapter 2 - Understanding Secularism

Question and Answers
Question 1: What is Secularism?
Answer:

• Secularism refers to this separation of religion from the State.
• The Indian Constitution allows individuals the freedom to live by their religious beliefs and practices as they interpret these.
• In keeping with this idea of religious freedom for all, India also adopted a strategy of separating the power of religion and the power of the State.

Question 2: State the importance of separation of religion from State.
Answer:

• This is important for a country to function democratically. Almost all countries of the world will have more than one religious group living in them.
• The tyranny of the majority and the violation of Fundamental Rights that can result in one reason is, why it is important to separate the State and religion in democratic societies.
• Another reason that it is important to separate religion from the State in democratic societies is because we also need to protect the freedom of individuals to exit from their religion, embrace another religion or have the freedom to interpret religious teachings differently.

Question 3: What are the objectives of Indian Constitution towards secularism?
Answer:
The Indian Constitution mandates that the Indian State be secular:
• That one religious community does not dominate another.
• That some members do not dominate other members of the same religious community;
• That the State does not enforce any particular religion nor take away the religious freedom of individuals

Question 4: What do you understand from the statement ‘freedom to interpret religious teachings differently’ in context with the practice of untouchability?
Answer:

• Untouchability refers to the social practice of excluding a minority group (untouchables) by regarding them as “ritually polluted” and segregating them from the mainstream by social custom.
• According to the Indian constitution every one has the freedom to interpret religious teachings in their own way.
• Similarly the Dalits who are called untouchables have the freedom to interpret religion in their own way. The Indian constitution has abolished ‘Untouchability’

Question 5: Find out some examples of different views within the same religion.
Answer:
Different views are found within the same religion. For example:
• In Hinduism, there are Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and Smartism.
• In Muslim community, there are Sunni, Shia, Ahmadiyya and Quranists.
• In Jainas, there are Shwetambar and Digambar sects.
• In Buddhism, there are Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana.

Question 6: How the Indian State is a secular State and what has it actually adopted to prevent religious domination?
Answer:

• India is a secular State and it works in various ways to prevent religious domination.
• The Indian Constitution guarantees Fundamental Rights that are based on the secular principles.
• Indian Constitution intervened in Hindu religious practices in order to abolish untouchability.
• In Indian secularism though the State is not strictly separate from religion and it does maintain a principled distance vis-à-vis (face to face) religion.
• This is how religious domination is prevented.

Question 7: What are the strategies followed by the Indian government to establish secularism?
Answer:
The strategies followed by the Indian government to establish secularism are
• Strategy of distancing itself from religion - It uses a strategy of distancing itself from religion. In India, government spaces like law courts, police stations, government schools and offices are not supposed to display or promote any one religion.
• Strategy of non-interference - This means that in order to respect the sentiments of all religions and not interfere with religious practices, the State makes certain exceptions for particular religious communities. For example, a Sikh man can wear a pagri (turban) instead of helmet.
• Strategy of intervention - This means that to ensure the laws relating to equal inheritance rights are respected, the State can intervene in the religion-based ‘personal laws’ of communities.
• The intervention of the State can also be in the form of support. For example, the Indian Constitution grants the right to religious communities to set up their own schools and colleges. It also gives them financial aid on a non-preferential basis.

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