A Distinguished Lecture titled “Two Conceptions of Indian Secularism” was delivered by Professor Rajeev Bhargava, Director, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi on Friday, January 24, 2014 at the Sir C V Raman Auditorium on the University of Hyderabad Campus.
Prof. Bhargava in his talk said that Political Secularism is widely believed to require a strict separation of state and religion or the exclusion of religion from the public domain, its privatization. In his presentation, Prof. Bhargava argued that Indian secularism is different from this mainstream conception.
Further he stated that there are two conceptions of Indian secularism. For the first, the term secularism connotes a certain stance or comportment of the state that promotes or develops a certain quality of sociability among various religious communities and ensures that no religious community dominates other religious communities. A second conception of secularism also exists, more prominently in the Indian Constitution, for which the state must reduce not only inter-religious but also intra-religious domination. The task of the secular state then is to also protect rights of internal minorities (minority sects within religious groups) as well as vulnerable groups such as Dalits and women from oppressive religious practices. To protect citizens from religion-related domination requires not that the state excludes itself from the religious domain but rather that it keeps principled distance from it, he added.
Professor Rajeev Bhargava did his BA (Honours) in Economics from the University of Delhi and M.Phil and D.Phil from Oxford University. Currently, he is Senior Fellow and Director, Centre for the study of Developing Societies, Delhi. He is also an Honorary Fellow, Balliol College, Oxford University. Bhargava has taught in many universities abroad and has been a visiting fellow at Harvard, Columbia, Belfast, Bristol and Jerusalem. He has also been a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin and Institute of Human Sciences, Vienna. His publications include Individualism in Social Science, Secularism and its Critics (ed), What is Political Theory and Why do we need it?, The Promise of India’s secular democracy. His contributions to political theory particularly in debates on Secularism, constitutionalism and reconciliation between communities are internationally recognized. He was a consultant to the UNDP report on cultural liberty and is on the advisory board of several national and international organizations. Bhargava received the Malcolm Adishesiah award for his contribution to social sciences and the UGC national award for his contribution to Political Science.
The talk was presided by Prof. Ramakrishna Ramaswamy, Vice-Chancellor, UoH. Prof. Aloka Parasher-Sen, Dean, School of Social Sciences introduced the speaker while Prof. Amitabha Das Gupta, Dean, School of Humanities proposed the vote of thanks.