What can France learn from the Indian Constitution’s approach to secularism?
Secularism refers to separation of religion from political, economic, social and cultural aspects of life. Religion will be treated as a purely personal matter. Secularism stands for equal opportunities for followers of all religions, and no discrimination and partiality on grounds of religion.
French and Indian Model of Secularism
The French model of secularism connotes complete separation between religion and the state. The Indian constitution didn’t adopt this negative connotation and adopted a positive connotation wherein all religions are respected equally and protected equally.
Applying this negative connotation of secularism France has prohibited all clothing or other attire displaying religious worship to be worn in schools. This model fails to recognize that religion is a way of life and restricting the expression of religion is a restriction of freedom of speech and expression.
Learning from Indian Model
The Indian model of Secularism not only upholds individual religious rights but also community religion rights. The fundamental rights specially protect the rights of religious minorities (Articles 25-30).
The religious sentiments are given due consideration in the framing of rules and regulations like allowing Sikhs to carry Kirpans and excusing those with pagdi from wearing helmets while driving two-wheelers.
When the ISIS was at its heights, the world saw large amounts of youths being radicalised and brainwashed to join them in the name of religion. But this was comparatively low in India even when compared to the western world which has much lesser Muslim population. The main reason for this is the positive notion of secularism which is embodied in the Indian constitution itself. France can take a leaf from the Indian secularism model and recognise multi-culturalism.