Recent events in India have raised pressing questions on the possible erosion of India’s secular identity. The country has been rocked by mass protests since December 2019 over the new citizenship law and the proposed National Register of Citizens which many fear will lead to disenfranchisement of religious minorities. Independent India has had a complex history with the idea of secularism. Despite imbibing the principle of religious equality from the beginning, the constitutional framers dithered from an explicit assertion of secularism in the original text of the Constitution and India declared itself as a secular state only in 1976. The concept of secularism in India has differed from the western versions of separation between the church and the state. The state, instead of distancing itself from religion, has insisted on an equality of association and strategic interventions.
It is pertinent to reflect on the viability of the Indian experiment in light of recent events and also in terms of what has transpired over the last 70 years.