Academy | Blog | Start Here

Mission Mains 2020: GS 1

Q. Constitutional secularism is the cornerstone of India's pluralistic society. Comment. 150/200

Constitutional secularism, in the Indian context, refers to the Indian adaptation of the ideal of secularism. It is located in the Preamble and Articles 14, 15, 17, 19, 21 and 25-28 (Fundamental Rights) of the Constitution of India.

In the Indian Constitution, secularism does not mean that the State is blind to religion. Instead, it means that the State recognises and respects all religions. 

How it is the cornerstone of Indian Pluralistic society 

1. It recognises the deeply spiritual nature of the Indian citizen, of religious sects and of religions.

2. This spiritual nature is seen as part of individual and collective identity which shaped our composite culture.

3. Freely professing, practicing, and propagating religion is seen as an aspect of life and personal liberty under Article 21. (Puttaswamy v. UoI)

4. State equally promotes all religions (Eg. Haj Subsidy for Muslims, Kartarpur Corridor for Sikhs, Chardham Project for Hindus) to promote individual liberty. This enables the full development of the individual and of the religious group.

5. Discrimination existing within religions (A. 17) and diversity within religions (A.26) is recognised to enable independent development of such groups, which have a unique culture of their own.

6. In case of violation of these rights, a remedy to approach the Supreme Court is provided for in Article 32. 

However, in order for these protections to be meaningful, constitutional morality must be imbibed in the hearts and minds of each individual. Otherwise, when the practices of religions come in conflict, these fundamental rights may be rendered meaningless. 

Therefore, beyond the mere text, it is also our constitutionalism that serves at the heart of our pluralistic society.



How would you have answered this question?

1. What makes the Indian society unique in sustaining its culture? Discuss.

1. Each part of India, and each of our different peoples have a unique history which shaped their societies. Thousands of different tribal groups have settled in India in the past and have adapted their culture to local conditions to create a unique culture of their own.

(For eg: The freedom struggle was not only a united struggle against imperial rule, but also struggles of individual groups for protection of their cultures.)

2. The diversity in languages among the different states, within states, and between tribes. Each language/dialect is associated with a culture endemic to the area in which it is spoken.

3. Historically, India has been a melting pot of cultures. Arrival of foreign cultures did not replace Indian cultures, but were absorbed.  This is true today as well.

(Eg: Maggi "Magic Masala" noodles, "Maharaja Mac" Burger)

4. The deeply spiritual nature of the Indian citizen, and Indian religious groups, as recognised and protected by the Constitution.

5. Certain elements like Caste are unique to India, with only incomplete parallels elsewhere. The fight against such discrimination in different parts of India have created thousands of different Dalit identities and cultures.

6. Each culture of India does not develop independently, but through intersectionality. The inherent cultural and structural diversity offers a greater scope for intersectionality in India than in other countries due to its diversity. (For eg: The culture of a "lower caste" urban woman is shaped by her caste's culture, urban culture as well as the Indian ideal of womanhood.)

Therefore, Indian culture is not merely adept and unique at sustaining its own culture. Instead, it is a melting pot of hundreds of thousands of different cultures, constantly interacting and developing together.

» show previous quotes

Your reading of law is superb. Awesome way how you've put your answer. 

Thank you. Just wanted to mention for the benefit of everyone,

Whenever there is a scope to mention fundamental rights, remember that fundamental rights dont function as islands. (RC Cooper case, Maneka Gandhi case, Puttaswamy, Sabarimala) Whenever there is scope to mention one fundamental right, most often, there is scope to mention Articles 21, 14 and 19. There is also scope to mention constitutionalism, Constitutional morality, and rule of law. There is scope to mention the preamble and maybe even how sovereignty resides in the people.

If one can do that, the answer would imbibe the spirit of the constitution and not just the letter. Always remember that the Constitution was not just a document guaranteeing rights; it was the result of the freedom struggle. It is an organic, living document that encompasses the pursuit of individual development. It is not what each right protects alone that matters; but what each right enables.

Hope this helps.:)

Q. Constitutional secularism is the cornerstone of India's pluralistic society. Comment. 150/200

Secularism refers to distinction from religious matters. Constitutional secularism refers to the constitutional backing of the idea of secularism, example, SECULAR word in preamble of Indian constitution via 42nd AA 1976.

 A pluralistic society, is a society where people having different kind of faiths, religious beliefs and practices co-exist and live peacefully. It is a society which is more tolerant, peaceful, and humane.

Constitutional secularism in India has led to existence of a pluralistic society in the following ways:-

  1. Backing of idea of secularism by a written Indian constitution, eg Preamble of Indian Constitution referring India as a SECULAR country along with the Fundamental duty of abiding by the constitution under part 4A has led to its acceptance and practice among the citizens.
  2. Provisions of Fundamental rights under part 3 of IC under article 25 to 28 have enabled Indian citizens to profess, practice and propagate any religion that they wish to.
  3. The difference between Indian Secularism from that of the western secularism, in the sense that apart from being clearly separated from the religious affairs in case of Western secularism, Indian state do take part in religious affairs of the country but with a positive attitude and this has resulted in equal treatment to all religions present in India. For eg, Indian state provides concessions to Islam followers for Haj pilgrimage, Indian state recently constructed the Kartarpur corridor on Indian side to facilitate Sikh pilgrimage, Indian state is developing the Char Dham route and likewise. All these mentioned examples reflect that all religions are equal in the eyes of Indian state which is an essential feature of Indian Secularism.
  4. The concept of Fraternity in Indian Constitution along with the concept of secularism has further strengthened the bonhomie among citizens of India having  different beliefs and faiths. Such brotherhood is clearly reflected when a Muslim family decorates their house on the occasion of Diwali, when a Hindu friend visits a Muslim friend’s house on the occasion of Eid to have biryani and sewai, when people of all faiths are served langar at community kitchens at Gurduwaras.
  5. Adoption and practice of ancient philosophies such as Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and Athithi Devo Bhawa have attracted  foreigners too to India to seek mental peace and spirituality eg places such as Haridwar, Varanasi, golden temple, Fatehpur sikri, Jama Masjid etc.

India has come a long way post  the 200 years of Divide and rule policy under the imperialist regime but still certain issues like oppression of lower castes, communalisation of politics, hate speeches and mob lynching are still plaguing the very peacefulness of this pluralistic Indian society. Steps such as effective implementation of Manual scavenging act 2013, criminalisation of mob lynching and curbing of circulation of fake news and hate speeches are all warranted.

That is a very crisp answer. Some points for value addition from my notes:

1. Ideal of secularism for India denotes equality among various religious communities as interpreted by the Supreme Court in the Ismail Faruqui v. Union of India judgment.

2. Constitutional secularism cannot be sustained by governments alone but requires collective commitment from an impartial judiciary, a scrupulous media, civil society activists, and an alert citizenry - which are all the foundations of a healthy democracy. 

I feel, a one liner needs to be added that constitution is the guiding force. Secularism as a value should be followed by citizens, wherein they respect plurality of cultures and ideas. 

@AlexanderSupertramp This question can be in GS1/2. You can quote these articles and judgements for GS2. 

As far as GS1 is concerned, we can rely on examples apart from the ones quoted by @TheNotorious . In The Discovery of India, Jawaharlal Nehru traced back the evolution of India’s composite culture through millennia of cultural osmosis. The State Emblem of India, the Lion Capital of Ashoka, from 250 BCE at Sarnath, has Buddhist roots. 

can you share any compilation of important SC judgements with respect to various topics in news?

» show previous quotes» show previous quotes» show previous quotes

The Brahmaputra is the lifeline of the northeastern part of India. It provides potable water as well as it has a high potential for hydropower generation. However construction the Chinese side has been seen as a cause of concern for the following reasons-
  • China being an upper riparian state can overexploit water from the river and thus depriving India.
  • the decreased flow can affect the viability of hydropower projects that have been executed or are planned by India.
  • it releases water during peak season which causes flooding in low lying regions. Annual Assam floods are also caused due to this.
  • overexploitation of river and not maintaining the environmental flow causes high river pollution affecting lower riparian states. recently the Siang river turned red due to high pollution.
  • can lead to weaponisation of river- by storing huge quantities of water and releasing it all together without any warning to intentionally cause damage to India.
  • the ecology would be threatened-   
  •          Brahmaputra and its tributaries are the lifelines of the biodiversity hotspot - eastern Himalayas and western ghats.
  •         people dependent on the fisheries sector would lose employment or incomes would go down.
  • National waterways mission would be affected due to irregular flow of the river. NW2 passes through the Brahmaputra.

The solution to this problem is developing water development mechanism through consensus with China. brahmaputra-yarlong water treaty in the lines of Indus water treaty could be devised to resolve future water disputes.


Lovely no-nonsense answer. 

Would have mentioned in the conclusion "in light of the present geopolitical scenario between India and China, the aggressive Chinese approach towards development of the Yarlung must be viewed seriously. If negotiations towards a consensus-based Water Development mechanism fails to yield results, India may seek to hold China accountable under customary international Law for causing transboundary harm."

Just to connect it to current events. Thanks for the answer!!