Class VIII - Civics

Chapter 2 - Understanding Secularism

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    • The word ‘secular’ was actually added to the Preamble by the 42nd Amendment, which came into force in 1976.
    • The term ‘secular’ denotes the threefold relationship between man, state and religion.
    • The word ‘secular’ has not been defined under the Constitution.
    • A Secular State is one that protects all religious equally and does not uphold any religion as the State religion.
    • Justice : Citizens cannot be discriminated against on grounds of caste, religion, and gender.
    • Liberty : Citizens are free to choose their own way of life.
    • Equality : All citizens are equal before the law. People belonging to different religious, the rich and the poor, men and women, all have equal status and rights and are entitled to equal opportunities.
    • Fraternity : To maintain the unity and integrity of the Nation, there has to be a sense of brotherhood and solidarity among the various groups.
    • Secularism is part of the fundamental law and basic structure of the Indian political system to secure to all its people socio- economic needs essential for man’s excellence with material and moral prosperity and political justice.
    • For Indians, secularism represents a true sense of synthesis of religion and compassion with a spirit of tolerance, universalism and freedom.
    • This ideal of secularism – equal respect for the beliefs of a multi-faith society and non- interference of the government in religious affairs – is the best guarantee for the continuing unity of a country with extreme diversities.
    • This ideal got embedded in the Indian constitution in the form of articles which provide the framework for the Laws of the Nation.
    • Fundamental rights are protected and guaranteed by the Constitution.
    • The word ‘fundamental’ suggests these rights are inviolable. No organ of government can violate these rights. The Indian judiciary has the power – and the responsibility - to protect these rights.
    • To strengthen this ideal, the Indian Constitution provides the following Fundamental Rights to the citizens :
    • Right to Equality : This fundamental right, covered by Articles 14 to 18, refers to the equality of every citizens before law, and equality of opportunity in employment within the territory of India. It has been argued that equality means giving everyone equal opportunity to achieve whatever one is capable of. The Constitution says that the government shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds of religion, caste, race, sex, or place of birth. Every citizen shall have access to public places and places maintained by government for the use of the general public.
    • Right to Freedom : The Constitution defined freedom in such a manner that every person enjoys his freedom without threatening the freedom of others and without endangering the law and order situation.
    • Right against Exploitation : The makers of the Constitution made certain provisions to prevent exploitation of the weaker sections of society under Articles 23 and 24. This right also prohibits child labour. This Constitution also prohibits practice of forced and bonded labour.
    • Right to Freedom of Religion : India being a secular state will neither establish nor favour a particular religion. According to Article 25, all those who reside in India are free to profess, practice and Propagate the religion of one’s choice.
    • Cultural and Educational Rights : Indian society is a study in diversity, which is also its strength. Therefore, the Indian Constitution guarantee the right of minorities to conserve their culture. This fundamental right is protected by Article 29.
    • Right to Constitutional Remedies : Though, Article 32, the Indian Constitution seeks to protect all the above rights and honour them. Its provides its citizens the rights to Constitutional Remedies.
    • Right to work – opportunity to everyone to earn a livelihood by working.
    • Right to safe and healthy working conditions, and fair wages that can provide a decent standard of living for workers and their families.
    • Right to adequate standard of living including adequate food, clothing and housing.
    • Right to social security and insurance.
    • Right to health – medical-care during illness ; special care for women during childbirth, and prevention of epidemics.
    • Right to education - free and compulsory primary education, and equal access to higher education.
    • To abide by the Constitution and respect the national flag and national anthem.
    • To cherish and follow the Noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom.
    • To protect the Sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.
    • To defend the country.
    • To Promote the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India.
    • To preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.
    • To protect and improve the natural environment.
    • To develop the scientific temper and spirit of inquiry.
    • To safeguard public property.
    • To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity.
    • The Constitution of India is based on the principles that guided India’s struggle against a colonial regime that consistently violated the Civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights of the people of India.
    • The freedom struggle itself witnessed many movements for social reforms, against oppressive social practice like Sati, child marriage, untouchability etc.
    • While Fundamental rights focused largely on the rights of the individual, in the mid-70s a new human rights discourse, based on group rights, collective rights, and people’s rights, began.
    • This was mainly aimed at making the marginalised groups aware of their rights, and familiarising them with the laws made to protect their rights and for their upliftment.
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