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Spectral Secularism: Religion, Politics and Democracy in India

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 December 2003

JACKIE ASSAYAG
Affiliation:
Maison Française d'Oxford, CEIASEHESS, Paris.
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Abstract

Everyone invokes secularism in India. So the spectrum of secularism is very large. However, it is rather the spectral ideas of “majority” (hindus) and “minorities” (Muslims, Christians) conceived in demographic (rather than political) terms which characterizes the discussion of this question. The insistence of Hindu nationalists on emphasizing that they are the majority tend to blur the difference between Hindu identity and Indian identity, coextensive with the territory of India. This concept, moreover, serves them in their legitimating of the democratic system insofar as the arithmetical rule is a first principle of this political regime. In the name of a secularism founded on the idea of the greater number (and also the supposed ideal of immemorial Hindu tolerance) India must be governed in accordance with demographic fact defined in religious terms. One of the paradoxical consequence of this “majoritarianism” is the development of “majority minority complex” of the Hindus and the increasing hate and violence (against Muslims and Christians). Today, the Hindu nationalism programme effectively dominates public debate. Its partisans has succeeded in discriminating between “friends” and “foes”, those inside and those outside, those whom one holds dear and those whom one pillories on the basis of a real or imaginary menace weighing upon autochthony, culture, religion and race, and the national (state) sovereignty.

Tout un chacun invoque le sécularisme en Inde. Or le spectre du sécularisme y est très large. En réalité, c'est plutôt les idées spectrales de “ majorité ” (hindoue) et de “ minorités ” (musulmans, Chrétiens) conçues en termes démographiques (plutôt que politiques) qui caractérisent la discussion de cette question. L'insistance des nationalistes hindous sur le fait qu'ils constituent la majorité de la population tend à effacer la différence entre l'identité indienne et l'identité hindoue, coextensive au territoire indien. Cette conception leur sert de surcroît à légitimer le système démocratique dans la mesure où la règle arithmétique est le premier principe de ce régime politique. Au nom d'un sécularisme, fondé sur l'idée du plus grand nombre (ainsi que sur l'idéal présumé immémorial de la tolérance hindoue), l'Inde doit être gouvernée conformément au fait démographique défini en termes religieux. Une des conséquences paradoxales de ce “ majoritarisme ” est le développement du “ complexe minoritaire de la majorité ” des hindous qui s'accompagne d'une montée en puissance de la haine et de la violence (centre les musulmans et les chrétiens). Aujourd'hui, le programme du nationalisme hindou domine le débat public. Ses partisans ont réussi à discriminer entre “ ami ” et “ ennemi ”, ceux qui sont inclus ou exclus, ceux qu'on estime ou voue aux gémonies sur la base d'une menace réelle ou imaginaire portant sur l'autochtonie, la culture, la religion, la race et la souveraineté nationale (de l'État).

In Indien spricht jeder vom Säkularismus, wenngleich der Begriff sehr weitläufig ist. In Wirklichkeit wird die Diskussion eher von den spektralen Ideen von Mehrheit (Hindus) und Minderheit (Moslem, Christen) bestimmt, aufbauend auf demographischen (mehr als politischen) Aspekten. Hinduistische Nationalisten klagen ihre Mehrheitsposition ein und verwischen damit den Unterschied zwischen indischer und hinduistischer Identität im gesamten indischen Staatsgebiet. Diese Einstellung erlaubt ihnen darüber hinaus, das demokratische System und sein rechnerischen Grundprinzip zu rechtfertigen. Im Namen des Säkularismus, aufbauend auf dem Mehrheitsprinzip (sowie dem unwiderruflichen Ideal der hinduistischen Toleranz), muß Indien entsprenchend den konfessionnellen demographischen Tatsachen regiert werden. Eine paradoxale Konsequenz dieser Mehrheitspolitik ist die Herausbildung eines ”Minderheitskomplexes der hinduistischen Mehrheit“, die zu ständig steigendem Hass und Gewalt (gegen, ber Moslems und Christen) führt. Heutzutage bestimmt das nationale Programm der Hindus die öffentliche Diskussion. Seine Anhänger haben erreicht, dass solche zwischen ”Freund“ und ”Feind“ diskriminiert werden, die ein- oder ausgeschlossen sind, denen Schändungen nachgesagt werden, wahr oder erfunden, im Vereich der Eingeborenen, der Kultur, der Religion, der Rasse und nationalen Souveränität (des Staates).

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2003 Archives Européennes de Sociology

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