Secularism has been one of the most debated on topics in India, possibly since Independence. Here’s the thing, Secularism, at its core ideology, has faced the same problem in perception as Feminism has. Because, whether you like it or not, if you believe that everyone should have equal rights, you’re a feminist. Done and dusted. Because if you don’t believe in equal rights, you’re not anti feminist, you’re an asshole.
Secularism, at its core means the separation of ‘Church and State’ which means that any religious institution cannot, in any manner, interfere with decisions that concern the country at large. If you agree with the previous statement, you believe in Secularism. That’s about it. Now, it doesn’t matter whether you’re Hindu or Muslim or whatever, point is, if you don’t want your Temple or your Mosque to start making life decisions for you, then you, by default, believe in Secularism.
Now, when it comes to India, Secularism also means that the government has to treat people from different religions equally. This is also why I find it really ironic when some Indian Muslims talk about Secularism on one hand but want their own Personal law when it comes to the topics of Family, Divorce, Marriage, etc. This, to me, is plain stupid. I am totally against the Beef ban and I’m also against this shit. As an Atheist, both of these things stem from the same religious hypocrisy. So now that I’ve given my basic view on Secularism, here’s why I think it’s absolutely essential for the progress of art in a country.
Yesterday I put up a post on the film,’Do The Right Thing’ which was made by Spike Lee in 1989. This film spoke about Racism in America through a Black neighborhood. Now, if you even loosely look up recent American history, you’ll know that tension between Blacks and Whites was very high at the time. Racism was (and still is) a major topic of concern. In fact, some people even tried (and failed) to prevent the film’s release because they thought it would cause riots. Now here’s the thing, even if people were against Lee’s film at the time, they couldn’t do shit about it. Because, in a country like America, despite all its flaws, at least art can talk about seemingly taboo topics openly. And I really think that we’re not able to do that to the full extent in India because of a negative/uninformed attitude about Secularism.
This is because, when people are against Secularism, (without even knowing what it talks about) they start to think that some topics, like religion, are taboo. And hence cannot be spoken about. This gives the disgusting liberty to their political leaders to take advantage of this stupid belief and place bans on Films and other forms of art. Think about it, M.F Hussain, India’s most renowned painter, was sent into exile for religious reasons over a work of art. It’s absolutely disgraceful. Why should a political party decide what I want to watch? Going against secularism means to let go of Free Speech because Religion has always had a problem with words, however, it’s okay with killing, depending on who’s being killed. I really find it Bizarre that some political parties which are religiously motivated (On paper. Hungry for attention in reality) can cause violence to prevent films from being released. They will burn posters and even openly threaten artists on national television. That is not legal. And they somehow get away with it every time. Simply because the majority agrees with them, usually about religious reasons. And then the same people start thinking that it’s perfectly fine to not talk about certain things in society. Which leads to the death of art.
People need to understand that if a political party was posing against the ideology of Secularism, they were being assholes. That’s pretty much it. No political party can, under the garb of religion, dictate what is okay to watch. I’m sure if there was a film about religion in India which really spoke about the realities that we are uncomfortable about, these parties would do everything to stop it. And the majority would agree with them because all artists are apparently, “SICKulars” as the grammatically challenged population of Twitter calls it.