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Singh, Gurharpal (2011) 'United Progressive Alliance and Secularism.' In: Saez, Lawrence and Singh, Gurharpal, (eds.), New Dimensions of Politics in India: UPA in Power. London: Routledge, pp. 55-66. (Routledge Advances in South Asian Studies)

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In contrast to the rich theoretical discussion of secularism and the Indian state (Bhargava 1998), there is a major hiatus in the literature on its political practice. This ambiguity, according to Brass (2006), arises from the fact that secularism occupies a peculiar position in the discourse in India politics because not only does it encompass state-religion relations in the conventional sense, but it is also intimately interwoven into the fabric of competing visions of nationalism; the role of religious minorities, especially Muslims, in public life; and the belief that a strong centralized state is needed to act as a buffer between India’s religious communities that have a high propensity for communal conflict. These complexities, moreover, are shot through with sharp political differences between the Congress and the BJP in their contrasting conceptions of the national idea and the place of secularism within it – differences that, arguably, represent clear blue water between the UPA and the NDA. Secularism in contemporary India is therefore much more than simply an issue of the state-religion relationship; it is about highly contested political practices, ‘a mentality’, a ‘discourse’ and, above all, different constructions of Indian nationalism that have been strongly influenced by the division of the country in 1947 (Brass 2006).

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies > Department of Religions & Philosophies
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of the Study of Religions
ISBN: 9780415668972
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2011 14:25

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