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Legitimacy Gap - Secularism, Religion, and Culture in Comparative Constitutional Law by Depaigne, Vincent (13th July 2017)

Part II Models of Reconciliation Between Constitutional Law and Culture, 5 ‘Reformist’ Secularism: Reconciling Pluralism, Equality, and Unity in India

From: Legitimacy Gap: Secularism, Religion, and Culture in Comparative Constitutional Law

Vincent Depaigne

Chapter 5 looks at the ‘reformist’ conception of secularism in India. First, it addresses the historical origins of Indian secularism, in particular against the background of the Partition between India and Pakistan at the time of independence. From this origin can be traced a tension in Indian secularism between nationalism and ‘communalism’. This chapter shows in particular how the rise of Hindu nationalism has questioned this pluralist and reformist view of secularism, especially in the wake of the landmark Shah Bano Supreme Court judgment. This model also shows the dilemma of contemporary multiculturalism: how can the state be involved in religious matters and ensure equality among different (religious and cultural) groups without losing its secular nature? As in France, a trend towards a ‘nationalization’ of secularism can be discerned, in reaction to a perceived excessive state engagement with minorities.

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