What’s the fuss all about?

A couple of weeks ago when suggestions regarding constitutional draft were the talk of the town, I as an educated and aware citizen asked my grandfather what he would like to recommend to the CA. All he had to say was revoke the secularism thing. Upon probing the reason for wanting a Hindu state, he firmly asserted that no constitution could deprive him of his faith. I was perplexed.

The perplexity took another turn a few days back during a bandh when I read a Facebook post by a fairly agitated fellow university undergraduate who had this to say-“….. We don’t want any traditional religion….” Since when did secularism start being about yes/no to religion? Was it me who was getting the meaning of a secular state completely wrong?

A secular state, at least for me, is that where rule of law governs the country, not religious codes; where no preferential treatment is given to the populace of a particular religious background. In a sense, Nepal has always been a secular state, putting aside the fact that never before had the state thought of confirming it explicitly. The lack of explicit confirmation was the only problem that somehow sent the message of symbolic partiality. Nothing has changed, and nothing is going to change. People will keep following the faith they have been following, or they want to follow. What is wrong about it?

A great, aggressive and admirable marketing campaign is being carried out by the, how do you put it, “Hinduists”, who are selling their concept of secularism and people are buying it, educated-uneducated, aware-unaware, all. I fear that the end result of this would be a confrontational situation which would be too much for a state that has a handful of other critical issues to deal with.

The reason we are even discussing this is again a marketing campaign, poor and traditional. Supply could not create its own demand even before 1930s if the consumers were not well-informed about the goods being supplied. The advocates of secularism failed to even make people comprehend what it actually means. But is it too late? No. But what they need to do is match the campaign of the competitors head-to-head. Media has a greater role to play, without taking sides, of course. Media has to play a role in letting people know what secularism is on a neutral ground, without supporting or opposing it.

Religion is the part of our identity; it’s the way of our life, but this fuss has to stop.