Canterbury Archbishop hails Indian secularism

Friday, October 15, 2010

NEW DELHI - The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams Friday said India has consistently tried to define a secularism that is not hostile to multiple religious identities.

“India, in declaring itself a secular state at independence, was making a clear option for a certain kind of public and political neutrality, acknowledging that to be a citizen in India could not be something that depended on any particular communal identity and that the state could not intervene in religious disagreements except in so far as they became socially disruptive,” the Archbishop said here.

Williams, who is on a two-week visit to India, was delivering a lecture on “Pluralism and the Dialogue of Religions” at the British Council here.

The Archbishop cited India as an example which highlights that “the law and the state cannot just treat a population as a collection of individuals, their actual identity already bound up with values and beliefs.”

He quoted Sunil Khilnani writing about Jawaharlal Nehru, who recognised India as “a society neither of liberal values nor of exclusive communities or nationalities but of interconnected differences.”

“The success or otherwise India’s capacity to manage ‘interconnected difference’ in Nehru’s pregnant phrase, will have significance well beyond India’s borders,” the Archbishop said.

Filed under: Religion

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