India is noted for its secularism which means noninterference in others’ religious practices, viewing India as a composite nation with diverse cultures, languages and lifestyles.
Countries like Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Iran etc. are Muslim States and they are not secular in nature. In these countries the practice of the Muslim religion is encouraged. Most of the people there are Muslims and the name of the Muslim State is a Muslim name. But India has religious tolerance and as Swami Vivekananda said religious tolerance is the most admirable quality in a Hindu. Many of Swami Vivekananda talks are centered on non-interference in others’ religious faiths and practices. India should be proud of its secularism, its broad outlook, but at times, religious intolerance raises its ugly head now and then.
People of various religions fight for supremacy with the result there is clash of opinions and ideologies resulting in physical violence and dangerous subterranean activities. The Mumbai tragedy which occurred some time ago resulting in the death of many persons was caused by the explosion of bombs planted in many stations.
Not only there are many religions but also there are many languages in India. In UP, Delhi, Punjab, Bihar and other northern States Hindi are the language spoken by the majority of the people. In Andhra Pradesh Telugu is the language of the people. In Karnataka Kannada is the language of the State. In Karalla Malayalam is the language of the State. In Tamil Nadu it is Tamil. If you go from one State to another it is difficult to converse with the local people. We have to speak in English or in the language of the State. The culture of one State differs from the culture of another.
There are Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Parsees, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists in India. People of each religion practice their religion with freedom. This is religious tolerance.
In this diversity we have to find unity. This is secularism. The Government does not interfere in the practice of a people’s culture or religion. This principle of noninterference in one another’s religious beliefs is secularism.
No other country has people speaking so many languages, belonging to so many religions. These religious differences divide India. By and large people live united. Co-existence is a fine word which explains people’s spirit of mutual understanding and religious tolerance. Everyone has the right to practice his religion and speak his language. We should develop a mentality that we are all equal. The Government pursues the policy of social justice to all strictly. We should give importance to the slogan ‘Unity is our Strength.’