NCERT Class 8 Civics Chapter 2 Understanding Secularism talks about the importance of secularism in India. The Indian Constitution allows individuals the freedom to live by their religious beliefs and practices as they interpret these. Keeping with this idea of religious freedom for all, India also adopted a strategy of separating the power of religion and the power of the State. Secularism refers to this separation of religion from the State. Read on to learn more.
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The Indian Constitution mandates that the Indian State be secular. According to the Constitution, only a secular State can realise its objectives to ensure the following:
- One religious community does not dominate another
- Some members do not dominate other members of the same religious community
- The state does not enforce any particular religion nor take away the religious freedom of individuals.
The Indian State works in various ways to prevent the above domination. First, it uses a strategy of distancing itself from religion. The Indian State is not ruled by a religious group and nor does it support any one religion. In India, government spaces like law courts, police stations, government schools and offices are not supposed to display or promote any one religion.
Important Definitions in NCERT Class 8 Chapter 2
- Coercion: To force someone to do something. It refers to the force used by a legal authority like the State.
- Freedom to interpret: The independence that all persons shall have to understand things in their own way. It refers to a person’s liberty to develop their own understanding and meaning of the religion they practice.
- Intervene: It refers to the State’s efforts to influence a particular matter in accordance with the principles of the Constitution.
Important MCQs with Answers in NCERT Class 8 Chapter 2
1. Which of the following is a key principle of secularism?
(a) The state should promote a particular religion.
(b) Religious freedom should be guaranteed to all citizens.
(c) The state should enforce religious laws.
(d) The state should be involved in religious matters.
2. What is the main goal of secularism?
(a) To create a harmonious society where people of all religions can live together peacefully.
(b) To promote a particular religion or ideology.
(c) To control and suppress religious freedom.
(d) To establish the state as the head of all religions.
3. How does secularism differ from religious tolerance?
(a) Secularism is a broader concept that encompasses not only tolerance but also equality and neutrality.
(b) Religious tolerance is a more limited concept that simply allows people to practice their religion without interference.
(c) There is no difference between secularism and religious tolerance.
(d) Secularism is a subset of religious tolerance.
4. What is the role of the state in a secular society?
(a) To promote a particular religion or ideology.
(b) To enforce religious laws.
(c) To provide equal protection and support to all religions and religious groups.
(d) To remain neutral in matters of religion.
5. What is the importance of secularism in a democratic society?
(a) It ensures that the government is accountable to the people, not to any religious authority.
(b) It protects the rights of minority groups and prevents religious discrimination.
(c) It promotes social harmony and peace.
(d) All of the above.
Important Questions and Answers in NCERT Class 8 Chapter 2 Understanding Secularism
Q.1 List the different types of religious practices that you find in your neighbourhood. This could be different forms of prayer, worship of different gods, sacred sites, different kinds of religious music and singing, etc. Does this indicate freedom of religious practice?
Answer: The different types of religious practices that we can see in our neighbourhood are as follows:
- Sikhs worship in a Gurudwara to Sikh Gurus by reading the Guru Granth Sahib Ji
- Muslims worship in a mosque and their sacred book is called the Quran.
- Christians worship Jesus Christ in a Church, and their religious book is the Holy Bible.
- Hindus worship their deities and perform pooja in the Temple.
Q.2 Will the government intervene if some religious group says that their religion allows them to practise infanticide? Give reasons for your answer.
Ans. Yes, the Government can intervene if some religious group says that their religion allows them to practise infanticide. This is because the Indian Constitution clearly states that the Government has the right to intervene if there is a threat to social harmony. Also, killing an infant is a crime, and the judiciary is the only authority that can punish a person to death; no other religion or person can commit the crime of killing someone.
Q.3 Complete the following table.
|Objective||Why is it important||Example of a violation of this objective|
|One religious community does not
|The state does not enforce any particular
religion nor take away the religious freedom
|Some members do not dominate other
members of the same religious community
|Objective||Why is it important||Example of a violation of this objective|
|One religious community does not dominate
|It is important because the Constitution
gives the right to religious freedom to all,
and if it is not provided, there may be chances of riots and a disturbance of harmony in the country.
|Stopping the people of a particular religion from celebrating their festival|
|The state does not enforce any particular religion nor take away the religious freedom of individuals||It is important that every individual in a country has the right to follow the religion
of their choice. This is what makes the
nation a secular country.
|India is a country where people from different castes and religions reside.|
|Some members do not dominate other members of the same religious community||Religion cannot be divided on the basis of wealth or creed. Hence, it is important that no member dominates other members from the same religion. Following their religion is the right of every individual.||Distinguishing between upper-class and lower-class.|
Q.4 Find out some examples of different views within the same religion.
Ans. Some examples of different views within the same religion are as follows:
- Hindus worship different Gods and Goddesses.
- Muslims are segregated into Shia and Sunni
- Buddhist followers are split into Mahayana and Hinyan
Q.5 The Indian State both keeps away from religion as well as intervenes in religion. This idea can be quite confusing. Discuss this once again in class using examples from the chapter as well as those that you might have come up with.
Ans. The intervention of the State can also be in the form of support. The Indian Constitution grants the right to religious communities to set up their own schools and colleges. It also gives them financial aid on a nonpreferential basis. For example, the Indian Constitution intervened in Hindu religious practices in order to abolish untouchability. Another example could be that Sikh men do not have to wear a helmet. This is because the Indian State recognises that wearing a pagdi (turban) is central to a Sikh’s religious practice and in order to not to interfere with this, allows an exception in the law.
In Indian secularism, though the State is not strictly separate from religion it does maintain a principled distance vis-à-vis religion. This means that any interference in religion by the State has to be based on the ideals laid out in the Constitution. These ideals serve as the standard through which we can judge whether the State is or is not behaving according to secular principles.
Explore CBSE Civics Class 7 Notes
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|Chapter 4- Gender|
|Chapter 5- Women Change the World|
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The independence that all persons shall have to understand things in their own way. It refers to a person’s liberty to develop their own understanding and meaning of the religion they practice.
It refers to the State’s efforts to influence a particular matter in accordance with the principles of the Constitution.
It ensures that the government is accountable to the people, not to any religious authority. It protects the rights of minority groups and prevents religious discrimination. It promotes social harmony and peace.
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