In the Indian context, the term pseudo-secularism is used to pejoratively describe policies considered to involve minority appeasement.[1] The Hindus form the majority religious community in India; the term "pseudo-secular" implies that those who claim to be secular are actually not so, but are anti-Hindu or pro-minority.[2] The Hindu nationalist politicians accused of being "communal" use it as a counter-accusation against their critics.[3]



The first recorded use of the term "pseudo-secularism" was in the book Philosophy and Action of the R.S.S. for the Hind Swaraj, by Anthony Elenjimittam. In his book Elenjimittam accused leaders of the Indian National Congress of pretending to uphold secularism.[4]

After the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was accused of representing the Hindu communalism in Indian politics it started using the counter-charge of "pseudo-secularism" against the Congress and other parties.[5] The BJP leader LK Advani characterises pseudo-secular politicians as those for whom "secularism is only a euphemism for vote-bank politics". According to him, these politicians are not concerned with the welfare of the minorities, but only interested in their vote.[6]

The Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar has criticised the term as propaganda by Hindu nationalists.[7] Historian Mridula Mukherjee has described it as "a term propounded by the ideologues of Hindu nationalism to delegitimise and deny the genuineness of secularism. The subtext is that secularism is only a veneer put on to hide alleged policies of minority appeasement. The proponents of the term allege the secularists of being pro-Muslim and anti-Hindu."[8]

Alleged examplesEdit

The state policies of independent India accorded special rights to Muslims in matters of personal law. For example, in the Shah Bano case, a Muslim woman was denied alimony even after winning a court case, because the Indian Parliament reversed the court judgement under pressure of Islamic orthodoxy. This is often presented as proof of the Congress's practice of pseudo-secularism by many Indians.[9][10] Other special laws for Muslims, such as those allowing triple talaq and polygamy, are also considered as pseudo-secular.[11]

The religion-based reservations in civil and educational institutions are also seen as evidence of pseudo-secularism.[10]

The BJP has also been criticised as to playing along with pseudo-secular parties by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for compromising on issues like Article 370, Ram temple and Uniform civil code of India.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ John Anderson (2006). Religion, Democracy And Democratization. Routledge. p. 134. ISBN 978-0-415-35537-7. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  2. ^ Mani Shankar Aiyar (1 May 2006). Confessions of a Secular Fundamentalist. Penguin Books India. pp. 25–. ISBN 978-0-14-306205-9.
  3. ^ Deepa S. Reddy, ed. (2006). Religious Identity and Political Destiny: Hindutva in the Culture of Ethnicism. Rowman Altamira. pp. 171–173. ISBN 978-0-7591-0686-4. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  4. ^ Elenjimittam, Anthony (1951). Philosophy and Action of the R. S. S. for the Hind Swaraj. Laxmi Publications. pp. 188–189.
  5. ^ Deepa S. Reddy (2006). Religious Identity and Political Destiny: Hindutva in the Culture of Ethnicism. Rowman Altamira. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-7591-0686-4.
  6. ^ Mary Ann Tétreault; Robert Allen Denemark (2004). Gods, Guns, and Globalization: Religious Radicalism and International Political Economy. Lynne Rienner Publishers. pp. 115–. ISBN 978-1-58826-253-0.
  7. ^ Mani Shankar Aiyer (1 May 2006). Confessions of a Secular Fundamentalist. Penguin Books India. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-14-306205-9. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  8. ^ Mohapatra, Aswini; Mukherjee, Mridula; Mukhia, Harbans (28 April 2017). "Are we a nation of pseudo-secularists?". The Hindu.
  9. ^ Rafiq Dossani; Henry S. Rowen (2005). Prospects for Peace in South Asia. Stanford University Press. pp. 195–. ISBN 978-0-8047-5085-1.
  10. ^ a b Shabnum Tejani (2008). Indian secularism: a social and intellectual history, 1890-1950. Indiana University Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-253-22044-8. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  11. ^ Kanaiyalalu Manghandasu Talreja (1996). Pseudo Secularism in India. Rashtriya Chetana Prakashan. p. 46.
  12. ^ M. G. Chitkara (2003). Hindutva Parivar. APH Publishing. p. 84. ISBN 978-81-7648-461-9.

Further readingEdit

  • Shourie, Arun (1998). Indian controversies: Essays on religion in politics. New Delhi: Harper Collins. ISBN 978-8190019927
  • Shourie, Arun (2005). A secular agenda: For saving our country, for welding it. New Delhi, India: Rupa. ISBN 9788190019934
  • Goel, Sita Ram (1995). Perversion of India's political parlance. ISBN 978-8185990255
  • Goel, S. R. (2003). India's secularism, new name for national subversion. New Delhi: Voice of India. (Original in Hindi: Sekyūlarijma, rāshṭradroha kā dusarā nāma; translation into English by Yashpal Sharma.) ISBN 978-8185990590

External linksEdit