Secularism in India challenged: Irfan Engineer

Activist delivers Vakkom Moulavi memorial lecture

December 30, 2020 01:15 am | Updated 11:13 am IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Noted human rights activist Irfan Engineer has said that secularism in the country faces manifold challenges that require interventions at various levels to make it socially relevant and sustainable.

Delivering the annual memorial lecture organised by the Vakkom Moulavi Memorial and Research Centre, Vakkom, on ‘India’s tryst with secularism: past and future challenges’, Mr. Engineer, who is the director of the Mumbai-based Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, said that democratic secularism could be the only viable alternative capable of blending Nehruvian vision and Gandhian ideals in the current scenario of majoritarian political challenges.

He said the task of secularism in the country was two-fold that should incorporate the responsibilities of the State and individuals. “The interventionist role of the State can be effective only when it works for the welfare of citizens, particularly the most needy. The individuals and the civil society have equal responsibility to ensure that the rights and privileges of communities do not interfere with the democratic-secular aspirations of the society at large,” he said.

Mr. Engineer said that though the state could permit religious practices, subject to public morality and law and order, it should not favour any religious community by way of promoting or deepening any identity. He cited the examples of the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in the Parliament and the ‘love jihad’ legislations introduced by various State governments. “Such tendencies will only weaken the social fabric of the Indian secularism and thereby undercut the constitutional ideals,” he said.

Veteran journalist B.R.P. Bhaskar, State Planning Board members B. Ekbal and Ravi Raman, and APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University Pro Vice Chancellor S. Ayoob participated in the programme.

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