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In the Indian context, the term pseudo-secularism is used to pejoratively describe policies considered to involve minority appeasement.[1] The Hindus form the majority religious community in India; the term "pseudo-secular" implies that those who claim to be secular are actually not so, but are anti-Hindu or pro-minority.[2] The Hindu nationalist politicians accused of being "communal" use it as a counter-accusation against their critics.[3]


The first recorded use of the term "pseudo-secularism" was in the book Philosophy and Action of the R.S.S. for the Hind Swaraj, by Anthony Elenjimittam. In his book Elenjimittam accused leaders of the Indian National Congress of pretending to uphold secularism.[4]

After the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was accused of representing the Hindu communalism in Indian politics it started using the counter-charge of "pseudo-secularism" against the Congress and other parties.[5] The BJP leader LK Advani characterises pseudo-secular politicians as those for whom "secularism is only a euphemism for vote-bank politics". According to him, these politicians are not concerned with the welfare of the minorities, but only interested in their vote.[6]

The Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar has criticised the term as propaganda by Hindu nationalists.[7]

Alleged examples[edit]

The state policies of independent India accorded special rights to Muslims in matters of personal law. For example, in the Shah Bano case, a Muslim woman was denied alimony even after winning a court case, because the Indian Parliament reversed the court judgement under pressure of Islamic orthodoxy. This is often presented as proof of the Congress's practice of pseudo-secularism by many Indians.[8][9] Other special laws for Muslims, such as those allowing triple talaq and polygamy, are also considered as pseudo-secular.[10]

The religion-based reservations in civil and educational institutions are also seen as evidence of pseudo-secularism.[9]

Makarand Paranjape sees the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the demolition of Babri Masjid[clarification needed] as examples of the Indian National Congress practising pseudo-secularism.[11]

The BJP has also been criticised as to playing along with pseudo-secular parties by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for compromising on issues like Article 370, Ram temple and Uniform civil code of India.[12]


  1. ^ John Anderson (2006). Religion, Democracy And Democratization. Routledge. p. 134. ISBN 978-0-415-35537-7. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Mani Shankar Aiyar (1 May 2006). Confessions of a Secular Fundamentalist. Penguin Books India. pp. 25–. ISBN 978-0-14-306205-9. 
  3. ^ Deepa S. Reddy, ed. (2006). Religious Identity and Political Destiny: Hindutva in the Culture of Ethnicism. Rowman Altamira. pp. 171–173. ISBN 978-0-7591-0686-4. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  4. ^ Elenjimittam, Anthony (1951). Philosophy and Action of the R. S. S. for the Hind Swaraj. Laxmi Publications. pp. 188–189. 
  5. ^ Deepa S. Reddy (2006). Religious Identity and Political Destiny: Hindutva in the Culture of Ethnicism. Rowman Altamira. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-7591-0686-4. 
  6. ^ Mary Ann Tétreault; Robert Allen Denemark (2004). Gods, Guns, and Globalization: Religious Radicalism and International Political Economy. Lynne Rienner Publishers. pp. 115–. ISBN 978-1-58826-253-0. 
  7. ^ Mani Shankar Aiyer (1 May 2006). Confessions of a Secular Fundamentalist. Penguin Books India. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-14-306205-9. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Rafiq Dossani; Henry S. Rowen (2005). Prospects for Peace in South Asia. Stanford University Press. pp. 195–. ISBN 978-0-8047-5085-1. 
  9. ^ a b Shabnum Tejani (2008). Indian secularism: a social and intellectual history, 1890-1950. Indiana University Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-253-22044-8. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  10. ^ Kanaiyalalu Manghandasu Talreja (1996). Pseudo Secularism in India. Rashtriya Chetana Prakashan. p. 46. 
  11. ^ Makarand R Paranjape (2009). Altered Destinations: Self, Society, and Nation in India. Anthem Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-84331-797-5. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  12. ^ M. G. Chitkara (2003). Hindutva Parivar. APH Publishing. p. 84. ISBN 978-81-7648-461-9. 

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]