Thursday, May 13, 2010



A two-day national workshop on "Sixty years of Secularism and Pluralism" was organised in Chennai by the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai, and the Department of Political Science and Development Administration, Gandhigram Rural Institute on 28th April 2010. The Hindu dated 29th April 2010 has reported it as follows among other things:

In his valedictory address, N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu said secularism was not just about doing away with communalism or the political mobilisation of the people on communal lines, but more about an uncompromising commitment to the principles of secularism and adherence to the equality and fairness doctrine of the Constitution.

Secularism was also about issues such as how women are treated in majority or minority communities, Mr. Ram said. He pointed to a recent instance when the organisers of a seminar on Islam and non-violence came under attack by some so-called moderates for taking a stand against domestic violence in the community. The organisers had merely suggested a correct interpretation of a word in the Quran because the word was wrongly being taken as religious sanction for domestic violence against the woman.


Indian Muslims follow Indian secularism and the Constitution of India which guarantees religious freedom. The speech of an organiser of the seminar under reference irritated the people. He was only asked to explain what was meant by "the forum for the promotion of moderate thought in Islam" as its connotation is faulty. Ours is a democratic country and there was nothing wrong in seeking explanation from him. In fact it was this question which made many people, who were disappointed, keep quiet without creating a scene.

We do not know the brand of secularism Mr. N. Ram, being a well known atheist has talked about. Anyhow we Indians by and large do not follow the George Jacob Holyoake’s brand of secularism defined as follows:

Secularism is a code of duty pertaining to this life, founded on considerations purely human, and intended mainly for those who find theology indefinite or inadequate, unreliable or unbelievable. Its essential principles are three:

1) The improvement of this life by material means.

2) That science is the available Providence of man.

3) That it is good to do good. Whether there be other good or not, the good of the present life is good, and it is good to seek that good.

It is also said that Holyoake held that secularism and secular ethics should take no interest at all in religious questions (as they were irrelevant), and was thus to be distinguished from strong freethought and atheism. In this he disagreed with Charles Bradlaugh, and the disagreement split the secularist movement between those who argued that anti-religious movements and activism was not necessary or desirable and those who argued that it was.

He was also convicted for blasphemy in his country.

No domestic violence has ever occurred in the Muslim community because of any interpretation of any word in the holy Quran. Islam has made it clear that " Heaven lies under the feet of your mother " and " One has to get the certificate of good conduct from his wife to enter paradise " .The organisers should have highlighted these and many more things which Islam preaches to stress the need for better family ties and bonds. There was no need at all to attack the great translators of the holy Quran in the seminar. It was considered as a mischief and people were upset and disappointed. Even some women raised their objections to his speech.

Mr. N. Ram says that “the organizers came under attack by some so-called moderates. “ Does he believe that they are only so called moderates?” Does he not know them personally and how secular they are in expressing their views?

The Hindu of which Mr. N. Ram is the Editor-in-Chief published an article highly critical of the Islamic scholars which had already been published in the Hindustan Times and Indian Express before. The Hindu which does not solicit published articles published it for the reason best known to it and also published five letters in support of it ignoring views against it. What sort of freedom of the press is this?


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