IMSD stands committed to protecting and promoting the values and principles which constitute the bedrock of our Constitution, as also that of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), 1948. (See ANNEX 1)
IMSD’s commitment to the values enshrined in the Indian constitution is both a matter of principle and prudence. For minorities targeted by majoritarian, neo-fascist forces the only guarantee of life with dignity lies not in gaining the ‘goodwill of the majority’, as the RSS demands, but in defense of India’s Constitution that guarantees secular politics, democracy, pluralism, non-discrimination and equal citizenship rights. (See ANNEX 2).
To endorse the Indian Constitution is to defend the secular-democratic values enshrined in it; not only against Hindutva but against all sectarian, divisive, communal worldviews and forces. Communalists of different hues feed on each other. It is not possible to fight Hindu communalism without simultaneously fighting against Muslim communalism, or communal politics in any other garb. IMSD’s prime responsibility lies within the community. The history of all religions shows that any and every religion can be, and is, interpreted in many different ways. IMSD supports that strand within Islam which is in consonance with the values enshrined in the UDHR and Indian Constitution: justice, equality, free choice, wisdom and compassion. (See ANNEX 3)
Secular state: Secularism rejects the notion of a theocratic state – Islamic State, Hindu Rashtra or any other – since a theocratic state is by definition militates against the ideal of equal citizenship rights. For example, only those owing allegiance to the official state religion are eligible to the posts of President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice etc. The barring of women from occupying such posts on grounds of gender is another example.
A secular state is a state which has no religion. Such a religion-neutral (‘dharmnirpeksh’) state makes a clear separation between religion and politics, between matters of faith and affairs of the state. While all citizens are guaranteed the freedom of conscience, the state does not favour one religion or another.
Secular society: In our popular consciousness secularism means equal respect for all religions (Sarva dharma samabhava). This is the legacy of the Sufi and the Bhakti movements, our syncretic culture.
As IMSD understands it, the word ‘secular’ is not synonymous with ‘atheist’. Nor is being ‘religious’ the same as being ‘communal’.
To be secular is to affirm the inalienable basic rights and freedoms of all human beings, to respect all religions and cultures, even as we reserve the right to critique and reform them for the betterment of our societies. To be communal is to subscribe to the view that all followers of a particular faith have identical social-economic and political interests which are opposed to the interests of those of other faiths.
Democracy and Human Rights
Democracy is not only about elections, however free and fair. Given the logic of numbers an electoral process could well install governments with a majoritarian worldview. Herein lies the critical importance of the UDHR and the Indian Constitution, both of which guarantee certain rights and freedoms of all citizens; as also the rights of minorities, women, Dalits, OBCs, tribals and other vulnerable sections of society. Without these rights and liberties, democracy will be meaningless, in India or elsewhere in the world.
Fundamental Duties of Citizens
While standing by the rights and freedoms of individual citizens, minorities, women and other vulnerable sections, IMSD simultaneously endorses the fundamental duties of every citizen of India as spelt out in Article 51A of the Constitution. (ANNEX 4)