Religion is not Citizenship

In recent events, mainly in the past few months. Our country has observed an increase in conflicts among the religious groups that reside within the dominion of India. There is no doubt that there is increasing tensions among the religious groups. But the matter at hand is that many people, including politicians and their respective political party have related religion with citizenship.

The founding fathers of the nation never defined or even related religion with citizenship. In fact they have stated that, “Religion will not be a test of citizenship in Modern India.” Unfortunately it is not so.

Our country’s preamble had the word ‘secularism’ added to it in the 42nd Amendment in the year 1976. The term secularism means that the country or the states, do not sponsor any single religion and believe in equal treatment of all religious groups before the law. India is one of the world’s most, not only largest, but diverse democracy. Therefore it is essential that India adopt secularism so that the various religious groups will have representation and not be exploited.

On the contrary, in recent events religion is being used as a medium to declare the patriotism of a citizen who may or may not be following a particular religion. People who are doing this need to be taught the difference between patriotism and religion and above all that India is a democracy. Rabindranath Tagore had argued that patriotism and nationalism is not a good attribute as it promotes selfish attitude towards the other members of the society who may have differing views and in this case religion. Instead we should follow the attribute of being humanitarian and treat everyone with equal respect and dignity.

The Constitution of India clearly defines ‘Right to Religion’ as a fundamental rights. For those who don’t know, fundamental rights are those rights which are empowered by the constitution to the people of the country and are protected by the judiciary and the constitution itself. Right to Religion is defined as, every single citizen of the country has the right to follow, practice and propagate any religion of their choice and they shall not be discriminated against.

Therefore, using religion as a test of loyalty of a citizen towards the country is completely unjustified and we, the people, should strongly oppose it. But it also doesn’t mean we must go against those who do use it as a test. It is rightly said that,“War doesn’t show who is right, it only shows who is left.”  And that should be something we all must remember, especially as Indians. We have to reason with these extremists, talk with them and show them that what they are thinking is wrong and show them the correct path, peacefully and humanely.

Priyamvad Rai

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