Education at Crossroads

7.
Value-Oriented Education

I

Values, secularism and spirituality

At the outset, it seems necessary to deal with the concept of secularism, since we may observe that this concept is ridden with ambiguities in our Indian situation; and it is thus left to every one to interpret it in any way one thinks best. There is a view of secularism, which consists of equality before law irrespective of caste, religion or race. But this view often tends to become tainted in actual situations where there are unreasonable demands coming from religious groups, which insist on special provisions which tend to mitigate the idea of equality before law. There is also the idea of secularism which advocates that the state funds should not be utilised for the promotion of any religion. In practice, very often, this rule is employed even where there is a question of the promotion, not of any religion, but of ethical and spiritual values. There is a tolerant view of secularism, which aims at equal respect for all religions. Here, again, it has become difficult to create an ethos where equal respect for all religions could be practised, and no significant efforts have been made to create a climate where secularism understood in this sense can flourish. There is also a synthetic view of secularism, which aims at bringing about unity of religions on the basis of the unity of moral and spiritual values. This is an excellent idea, but here, again, no significant effort has been made to actualise this view in practice. A very powerful interpretation of secularism is the materialistic view which denies any justification for religion as such. This view tends to get an upper hand, since it can be more convincingly made out that materialism is incontrovertibly secular. The net effect is that our

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