NCERT Textbook - Understanding Secularism Class 8 Notes | EduRev

Social Studies (SST) Class 8

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UPSC : NCERT Textbook - Understanding Secularism Class 8 Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


Social and Political Life 18
Chapter 2
Imagine yourself as a Hindu or Muslim living in a part
of the United States of America where Christian
fundamentalism is very powerful. Suppose that despite
being a US citizen, no one is willing to rent their house
to you. How would this make you feel? Would it not
make you feel resentful? What if you decided to
complain against this discrimination and were told to
go back to India. Would this not make you feel angry?
Your anger could take two forms. First, you might react
by saying that Christians should get the same treatment
in places where Hindus and Muslims are in a majority.
This is a form of retaliation. Or, you might take the
view that there should be justice for all. You may fight,
stating that no one should be discriminated against
on grounds of their religious practices and beliefs. This
statement rests on the assumption that all forms of
domination related to religion should end. This is the
essence of secularism. In this chapter, you will read
more about what this means in the Indian context.
Understanding Secularism
2015-16
Page 2


Social and Political Life 18
Chapter 2
Imagine yourself as a Hindu or Muslim living in a part
of the United States of America where Christian
fundamentalism is very powerful. Suppose that despite
being a US citizen, no one is willing to rent their house
to you. How would this make you feel? Would it not
make you feel resentful? What if you decided to
complain against this discrimination and were told to
go back to India. Would this not make you feel angry?
Your anger could take two forms. First, you might react
by saying that Christians should get the same treatment
in places where Hindus and Muslims are in a majority.
This is a form of retaliation. Or, you might take the
view that there should be justice for all. You may fight,
stating that no one should be discriminated against
on grounds of their religious practices and beliefs. This
statement rests on the assumption that all forms of
domination related to religion should end. This is the
essence of secularism. In this chapter, you will read
more about what this means in the Indian context.
Understanding Secularism
2015-16
19
Understanding Secularism
History provides us with many examples of discrimination,
exclusion and persecution on the grounds of religion. You
may have read about how Jews were persecuted in Hitler’s
Germany and how several millions were killed. Now , however,
the Jewish State of Israel treats its own Muslim and Christian
minorities quite badly. In Saudi Arabia, non-Muslims are not
allowed to build a temple, church etc., and nor can they gather
in a public place for prayers.
In all of the above examples, members of one religious
community either persecute or discriminate against
members of other religious communities. These acts of
discrimination take place more easily when one religion is
given official recognition by the State at the expense of other
religions. Clearly no one would wish to be discriminated against,
because of their religion nor dominated by another religion.
In India, can the State discriminate against citizens on the
grounds of their religion?
What is Secularism?
In the previous chapter, you read about how the Indian
Constitution contains Fundamental Rights that protect us
against State power as well as against the tyranny of the
majority. The Indian Constitution allows individuals the
freedom to live by their religious beliefs and practices as
they interpret these. In keeping with this idea of religious
freedom for all, India also adopted a strategy of separating
the power of religion and the power of the State. Secularism
refers to this separation of religion from the State.
Re-read the introduction to
this chapter. Why do you
think retaliation is not the
proper response to this
problem? What would
happen if different groups
followed this path?
The three drawings in this chapter were done
by students of your age. They were asked to
draw on religious tolerance.
Chapter 2: Understanding Secularism
Tanvi, Abhilasha and Snehal, VI B, Srijan School, Delhi.
2015-16
Page 3


Social and Political Life 18
Chapter 2
Imagine yourself as a Hindu or Muslim living in a part
of the United States of America where Christian
fundamentalism is very powerful. Suppose that despite
being a US citizen, no one is willing to rent their house
to you. How would this make you feel? Would it not
make you feel resentful? What if you decided to
complain against this discrimination and were told to
go back to India. Would this not make you feel angry?
Your anger could take two forms. First, you might react
by saying that Christians should get the same treatment
in places where Hindus and Muslims are in a majority.
This is a form of retaliation. Or, you might take the
view that there should be justice for all. You may fight,
stating that no one should be discriminated against
on grounds of their religious practices and beliefs. This
statement rests on the assumption that all forms of
domination related to religion should end. This is the
essence of secularism. In this chapter, you will read
more about what this means in the Indian context.
Understanding Secularism
2015-16
19
Understanding Secularism
History provides us with many examples of discrimination,
exclusion and persecution on the grounds of religion. You
may have read about how Jews were persecuted in Hitler’s
Germany and how several millions were killed. Now , however,
the Jewish State of Israel treats its own Muslim and Christian
minorities quite badly. In Saudi Arabia, non-Muslims are not
allowed to build a temple, church etc., and nor can they gather
in a public place for prayers.
In all of the above examples, members of one religious
community either persecute or discriminate against
members of other religious communities. These acts of
discrimination take place more easily when one religion is
given official recognition by the State at the expense of other
religions. Clearly no one would wish to be discriminated against,
because of their religion nor dominated by another religion.
In India, can the State discriminate against citizens on the
grounds of their religion?
What is Secularism?
In the previous chapter, you read about how the Indian
Constitution contains Fundamental Rights that protect us
against State power as well as against the tyranny of the
majority. The Indian Constitution allows individuals the
freedom to live by their religious beliefs and practices as
they interpret these. In keeping with this idea of religious
freedom for all, India also adopted a strategy of separating
the power of religion and the power of the State. Secularism
refers to this separation of religion from the State.
Re-read the introduction to
this chapter. Why do you
think retaliation is not the
proper response to this
problem? What would
happen if different groups
followed this path?
The three drawings in this chapter were done
by students of your age. They were asked to
draw on religious tolerance.
Chapter 2: Understanding Secularism
Tanvi, Abhilasha and Snehal, VI B, Srijan School, Delhi.
2015-16
Social and Political Life 20
Discuss in class: Can there be
different views within the same
religion?
Why is it Important to Separate Religion
from the State?
As discussed above, the most important aspect of secularism
is its separation of religion from State power. This is
important for a country to function democratically. Almost
all countries of the world will have more than one religious
group living in them. Within these religious groups, there
will most likely be one group that is in a majority. If this
majority religious group has access to State power, then it
could quite easily use this power and financial resources to
discriminate against and persecute persons of other
religions. This tyranny of the majority could result in the
discrimination, coercion and at times even the killing of
religious minorities. The majority could quite easily
prevent minorities from practising their religions. Any
form of domination based on religion is in violation of the
rights that a democratic society guarantees to each and every
citizen irrespective of their religion. Therefore, the tyranny
of the majority and the violation of Fundamental Rights
that can result is one reason why it is important to separate
the State and religion in democratic societies.
Another reason that it is important to separate religion
from the State in democratic societies is because we also
need to protect the freedom of individuals to exit from
their religion, embrace another religion or have the freedom
to interpret religious teachings differently. To understand
this point better, let us take the practice of untouchability.
You might feel that you dislike this practice within
Hinduism and therefore, you want to try and reform it.
However, if State power were in the hands of those Hindus
who support untouchability, then do you think that you
would have an easy task to try and change this? Even if you
were part of the dominant religious group, you might face
a lot of resistance from fellow members of your
community. These members who have control of State
power might say that there is only one interpretation of
Hinduism and that you do not have the freedom to interpret
this differently.
Akshita Jain, V, Srijan School, Delhi.
2015-16
Page 4


Social and Political Life 18
Chapter 2
Imagine yourself as a Hindu or Muslim living in a part
of the United States of America where Christian
fundamentalism is very powerful. Suppose that despite
being a US citizen, no one is willing to rent their house
to you. How would this make you feel? Would it not
make you feel resentful? What if you decided to
complain against this discrimination and were told to
go back to India. Would this not make you feel angry?
Your anger could take two forms. First, you might react
by saying that Christians should get the same treatment
in places where Hindus and Muslims are in a majority.
This is a form of retaliation. Or, you might take the
view that there should be justice for all. You may fight,
stating that no one should be discriminated against
on grounds of their religious practices and beliefs. This
statement rests on the assumption that all forms of
domination related to religion should end. This is the
essence of secularism. In this chapter, you will read
more about what this means in the Indian context.
Understanding Secularism
2015-16
19
Understanding Secularism
History provides us with many examples of discrimination,
exclusion and persecution on the grounds of religion. You
may have read about how Jews were persecuted in Hitler’s
Germany and how several millions were killed. Now , however,
the Jewish State of Israel treats its own Muslim and Christian
minorities quite badly. In Saudi Arabia, non-Muslims are not
allowed to build a temple, church etc., and nor can they gather
in a public place for prayers.
In all of the above examples, members of one religious
community either persecute or discriminate against
members of other religious communities. These acts of
discrimination take place more easily when one religion is
given official recognition by the State at the expense of other
religions. Clearly no one would wish to be discriminated against,
because of their religion nor dominated by another religion.
In India, can the State discriminate against citizens on the
grounds of their religion?
What is Secularism?
In the previous chapter, you read about how the Indian
Constitution contains Fundamental Rights that protect us
against State power as well as against the tyranny of the
majority. The Indian Constitution allows individuals the
freedom to live by their religious beliefs and practices as
they interpret these. In keeping with this idea of religious
freedom for all, India also adopted a strategy of separating
the power of religion and the power of the State. Secularism
refers to this separation of religion from the State.
Re-read the introduction to
this chapter. Why do you
think retaliation is not the
proper response to this
problem? What would
happen if different groups
followed this path?
The three drawings in this chapter were done
by students of your age. They were asked to
draw on religious tolerance.
Chapter 2: Understanding Secularism
Tanvi, Abhilasha and Snehal, VI B, Srijan School, Delhi.
2015-16
Social and Political Life 20
Discuss in class: Can there be
different views within the same
religion?
Why is it Important to Separate Religion
from the State?
As discussed above, the most important aspect of secularism
is its separation of religion from State power. This is
important for a country to function democratically. Almost
all countries of the world will have more than one religious
group living in them. Within these religious groups, there
will most likely be one group that is in a majority. If this
majority religious group has access to State power, then it
could quite easily use this power and financial resources to
discriminate against and persecute persons of other
religions. This tyranny of the majority could result in the
discrimination, coercion and at times even the killing of
religious minorities. The majority could quite easily
prevent minorities from practising their religions. Any
form of domination based on religion is in violation of the
rights that a democratic society guarantees to each and every
citizen irrespective of their religion. Therefore, the tyranny
of the majority and the violation of Fundamental Rights
that can result is one reason why it is important to separate
the State and religion in democratic societies.
Another reason that it is important to separate religion
from the State in democratic societies is because we also
need to protect the freedom of individuals to exit from
their religion, embrace another religion or have the freedom
to interpret religious teachings differently. To understand
this point better, let us take the practice of untouchability.
You might feel that you dislike this practice within
Hinduism and therefore, you want to try and reform it.
However, if State power were in the hands of those Hindus
who support untouchability, then do you think that you
would have an easy task to try and change this? Even if you
were part of the dominant religious group, you might face
a lot of resistance from fellow members of your
community. These members who have control of State
power might say that there is only one interpretation of
Hinduism and that you do not have the freedom to interpret
this differently.
Akshita Jain, V, Srijan School, Delhi.
2015-16
21
What is Indian Secularism?
The Indian Constitution mandates that the Indian State be
secular. According to the Constitution, only a secular State
can realise its objectives to ensure the following:
1. that one religious community does not dominate
another;
2. that some members do not dominate other members of
the same religious community;
3. that the State does not enforce any particular religion
nor take away the religious freedom of individuals.
The Indian State works in various ways to prevent the above
domination. First, it uses a strategy of distancing itself from
religion. The Indian State is not ruled by a religious group
and nor does it support any one religion. In India,
government spaces like law courts, police stations,
government schools and offices are not supposed to display
or promote any one religion.
Chapter 2: Understanding Secularism
Pinky, VI G, Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya , Delhi.
2015-16
Page 5


Social and Political Life 18
Chapter 2
Imagine yourself as a Hindu or Muslim living in a part
of the United States of America where Christian
fundamentalism is very powerful. Suppose that despite
being a US citizen, no one is willing to rent their house
to you. How would this make you feel? Would it not
make you feel resentful? What if you decided to
complain against this discrimination and were told to
go back to India. Would this not make you feel angry?
Your anger could take two forms. First, you might react
by saying that Christians should get the same treatment
in places where Hindus and Muslims are in a majority.
This is a form of retaliation. Or, you might take the
view that there should be justice for all. You may fight,
stating that no one should be discriminated against
on grounds of their religious practices and beliefs. This
statement rests on the assumption that all forms of
domination related to religion should end. This is the
essence of secularism. In this chapter, you will read
more about what this means in the Indian context.
Understanding Secularism
2015-16
19
Understanding Secularism
History provides us with many examples of discrimination,
exclusion and persecution on the grounds of religion. You
may have read about how Jews were persecuted in Hitler’s
Germany and how several millions were killed. Now , however,
the Jewish State of Israel treats its own Muslim and Christian
minorities quite badly. In Saudi Arabia, non-Muslims are not
allowed to build a temple, church etc., and nor can they gather
in a public place for prayers.
In all of the above examples, members of one religious
community either persecute or discriminate against
members of other religious communities. These acts of
discrimination take place more easily when one religion is
given official recognition by the State at the expense of other
religions. Clearly no one would wish to be discriminated against,
because of their religion nor dominated by another religion.
In India, can the State discriminate against citizens on the
grounds of their religion?
What is Secularism?
In the previous chapter, you read about how the Indian
Constitution contains Fundamental Rights that protect us
against State power as well as against the tyranny of the
majority. The Indian Constitution allows individuals the
freedom to live by their religious beliefs and practices as
they interpret these. In keeping with this idea of religious
freedom for all, India also adopted a strategy of separating
the power of religion and the power of the State. Secularism
refers to this separation of religion from the State.
Re-read the introduction to
this chapter. Why do you
think retaliation is not the
proper response to this
problem? What would
happen if different groups
followed this path?
The three drawings in this chapter were done
by students of your age. They were asked to
draw on religious tolerance.
Chapter 2: Understanding Secularism
Tanvi, Abhilasha and Snehal, VI B, Srijan School, Delhi.
2015-16
Social and Political Life 20
Discuss in class: Can there be
different views within the same
religion?
Why is it Important to Separate Religion
from the State?
As discussed above, the most important aspect of secularism
is its separation of religion from State power. This is
important for a country to function democratically. Almost
all countries of the world will have more than one religious
group living in them. Within these religious groups, there
will most likely be one group that is in a majority. If this
majority religious group has access to State power, then it
could quite easily use this power and financial resources to
discriminate against and persecute persons of other
religions. This tyranny of the majority could result in the
discrimination, coercion and at times even the killing of
religious minorities. The majority could quite easily
prevent minorities from practising their religions. Any
form of domination based on religion is in violation of the
rights that a democratic society guarantees to each and every
citizen irrespective of their religion. Therefore, the tyranny
of the majority and the violation of Fundamental Rights
that can result is one reason why it is important to separate
the State and religion in democratic societies.
Another reason that it is important to separate religion
from the State in democratic societies is because we also
need to protect the freedom of individuals to exit from
their religion, embrace another religion or have the freedom
to interpret religious teachings differently. To understand
this point better, let us take the practice of untouchability.
You might feel that you dislike this practice within
Hinduism and therefore, you want to try and reform it.
However, if State power were in the hands of those Hindus
who support untouchability, then do you think that you
would have an easy task to try and change this? Even if you
were part of the dominant religious group, you might face
a lot of resistance from fellow members of your
community. These members who have control of State
power might say that there is only one interpretation of
Hinduism and that you do not have the freedom to interpret
this differently.
Akshita Jain, V, Srijan School, Delhi.
2015-16
21
What is Indian Secularism?
The Indian Constitution mandates that the Indian State be
secular. According to the Constitution, only a secular State
can realise its objectives to ensure the following:
1. that one religious community does not dominate
another;
2. that some members do not dominate other members of
the same religious community;
3. that the State does not enforce any particular religion
nor take away the religious freedom of individuals.
The Indian State works in various ways to prevent the above
domination. First, it uses a strategy of distancing itself from
religion. The Indian State is not ruled by a religious group
and nor does it support any one religion. In India,
government spaces like law courts, police stations,
government schools and offices are not supposed to display
or promote any one religion.
Chapter 2: Understanding Secularism
Pinky, VI G, Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya , Delhi.
2015-16
Social and Political Life 22
In the above storyboard, the celebration of the religious
festival within the school would have been a violation of
the government’s policy of treating all religions equally.
Government schools cannot promote any one religion
either in their morning prayers or through religious
celebrations. This rule does not apply to private schools.
In the above storyboard,
discuss the answer given
by the teacher.
In a government school in
Seemapur, students want to
celebrate a religious festival.
I never thought of it this
way. I guess we can always
celebrate it outside school.
Anyway we were
planning to celebrate it
in our locality.
Sir, there is a big religious
festival next month. We’ve
never celebrated it in school.
Can we do it this year?
I’m afraid that isn’t possible,
Rekha. This is a government
school. We cannot give
importance to any one religion.
Private schools may do that.
Government schools don’t
celebrate any religious
festivals in the school premises.
Most religious festivals are public
holidays so that we can
celebrate these at home.
2015-16
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