“Understanding Secularism” is an important chapter in Class 8 NCERT Pol. Sc. (Civics) Textbook. Here we are giving quality answers to Intext questions as well as the textbook exercise questions. Click here for other chapters.
Question Answers: Understanding Secularism
Intext Questions and Answers
Here are given answers to intext questions that are asked within the chapter text. These questions are published on either side of the main text on pages.
Q. Re-read the introduction to this chapter. Why do you think retaliation is not the proper response to this problem? What would happen if different groups followed this path?
Ans. Retaliation is not the proper response because it creates differences among the society. If different groups followed this path, then there will be no unity and violation will take place.
Q. Discuss in class: Can there be different views within the same religion?
Ans. Yes, there can definitely be different views within the same religion. Religions are complex and diverse belief systems that have evolved over time, and as such, they are subject to various interpretations and understandings. Different individuals may have unique spiritual experiences, cultural influences, and personal connections with their faith, leading them to perceive and practice the religion in different ways. Additionally, religious texts often contain passages open to multiple interpretations, allowing for diverse schools of thought within the same religious community. Embracing the existence of different views within a religion promotes tolerance, respect, and understanding among believers, fostering a culture of coexistence and mutual learning. Encouraging open discussions and acknowledging diversity can enrich the religious experience and contribute to a more harmonious and inclusive society.
Q. In the above storyboard, discuss the answer given by the teacher.
Ans. In the above storyboard, the teacher’s response to the students’ request to celebrate a religious festival in the government school in Seemapur was that it wasn’t possible. The teacher explained that government schools cannot give importance to any one religion and must treat all religions equally. The teacher pointed out that private schools may have different rules regarding religious celebrations. The teacher’s response reflects the principle of Indian secularism, where the State maintains a principled distance from religion to prevent any religious domination and interference, while still respecting the rights of all religious communities. The teacher’s explanation highlights the importance of upholding religious neutrality in government institutions while acknowledging the diversity of religious practices in society.
Q. Government schools often have students from different religious backgrounds. Re-read the three objectives of a secular State and write two sentences on why it is important that government schools do not promote any one religion?
Ans. Government schools do not promote any one religion because:
(i) It will violate the government’s policy of treating all the religions equally.
(ii) Being a secular country, any particular religion cannot be enforced in India.
Q. Can you think of a recent incident, from any part of India, in which the secular ideals of the Constitution were violated and persons were persecuted and killed because of their religious backgrounds?
Ans. India has witnessed since its independence many sorry and deplorable incidents of riots in which the secular ideals of the Constitution were violated and persons were persecuted and killed because of their religious backgrounds. Here is one example:
Delhi Riots – February 2020:
The Delhi riots occurred in February 2020 in several neighbourhoods of Delhi, primarily in Northeast Delhi. The violence erupted between groups with different religious backgrounds, resulting in clashes, destruction, and loss of lives. The incident was triggered by tensions surrounding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which led to protests across the country.
During the riots, there were reports of individuals being targeted and killed based on their religious identities. Both Hindu and Muslim communities were affected, and the violence resulted in numerous casualties, injuries, and widespread fear and trauma among residents.
It is crucial to acknowledge that these incidents violate the secular ideals of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality, religious freedom, and the right to life for all its citizens, irrespective of their religious backgrounds. The government and authorities play a crucial role in upholding the principles of secularism and ensuring the safety and protection of all citizens, regardless of their faith. Addressing such incidents, promoting harmony, and upholding the values of the Constitution are crucial to building a truly inclusive and pluralistic society in India.
Textbook Exercise Question and Answers
1. List the different types of religious practices that you find in your neighbourhood. These 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?
Ans. In my neighbourhood, there are different types of people who follow different types of religious practices. They include Sikhs, Muslims and Christians.
The Sikhs go to Gurudwaras for worship, the Muslims go to Mosques and the Christians go to Churches. Beside this, the Jain’s who live in my neighbourhood go to the Jain Temples, where they worship Lord Mahavira.
Examples of different types of religious practice:
(i) Jagran (ii) Kirtan (iii) Namaj (iv) Maanas Path (v) Havan
Yes, this indicates freedom of religious practice.
2. Will the government intervene if some religious group says that their religion allows them to practice infanticide? Give reasons for your answer.
Ans. Yes, the government will intervene because infanticide violates the right to life and equality guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. Religious practices cannot justify criminal acts or harm individuals’ well-being, and the government’s role is to protect citizens’ rights and uphold constitutional values.
Yes, the government will intervene if a religious group claims that their religion allows them to practice infanticide. The reason for this intervention is that the practice of infanticide goes against the principles of the Indian Constitution and violates fundamental rights, particularly the right to life and equality.
The Indian Constitution guarantees the right to life to all individuals, including infants, regardless of their religious background. Infanticide is considered a criminal offense under Indian law, and no religious practice can be allowed if it infringes upon the rights and well-being of individuals, especially vulnerable sections like children.
While Indian secularism respects religious freedom and the diversity of religious practices, it does not permit any religious activity that harms or endangers the lives of individuals. The government’s role is to uphold the constitutional values and protect the rights of all citizens, ensuring that no religious practice can be used as a justification for criminal acts or violations of human rights.
3. Complete the following table:
|Why is this important?
|Example of Violation
|One religious community does not dominate another.
|Ensures equality and prevents religious discrimination.
|(i) In Saudi Arabia, non-Muslims are not allowed to build temples.
(ii) A Hindu religious procession is not allowed to cross along the road passing through a mosque.
|The state does not enforce any particular religion nor take away the religious freedom of individuals.
|Safeguards religious freedom and prevents state-sponsored discrimination.
|(i) Demolition of Babri Masjid. The government failed to protect a sacred shrine.
(ii) Demolition of many temples in Pakistan by fanatic Islamists.
|That some members do not dominate other members of the same religious community.
|Upholds intra-religious equality and discourages religious-based oppression.
|(i) Dalits are discouraged to enter a temple by those who support untouchability.
(ii) Shia and Sunni animosity conflicts in Islamic society.
4. Look up the annual calendar of holidays of your school. How many of them pertain to different religions? What does this indicate?
Ans. Here is a school calendar with religious holidays.
|Holi, Dussehra, Deepawali
|Id-ul-zoha, Id-ul-fitr, Muharram
|Lohri, Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti, Guru Parv
|Christmas, Good Friday
This calendar indicates that the school calendar respects the rights of freedom of religion of minority as well as majority.
5. Find out some examples of different views within the same religion.
Ans. Some examples of different views within the same religion are listed below:
- In the Hindu religion we have hundreds of deities worshipped like Lord Shiva, some others follow Lord Vishnu, etc
- In Muslim community there are Shiyas and Shunnis.
- In Jainas, there are Shwetambar and Digambar sects.
- In Bauddha Dharma, there are Hinayaans and Mahayaans.
6. 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 Indian State follows a dual approach towards religion. On one hand, it maintains a distance from religious matters, respecting the sentiments of all religions by refraining from interference in their practices and making specific exceptions for any particular faith. For instance, Sikh individuals are exempted from wearing helmets due to the significance of their religious turban, known as the pugri.
On the other hand, the Indian State intervenes in religious affairs when necessary to address issues like untouchability. It actively prohibits practices that lead to the domination of certain religious communities over others, as seen in the ban on untouchability to promote equality among citizens.
Furthermore, the State supports religious communities by granting them the right to establish their own educational institutions such as schools and colleges. This support is provided on a non-preferential basis, allowing religious groups to promote education based on their beliefs while upholding secular principles.
In short, the Indian State adopts a balanced approach towards religion, respecting religious freedoms while intervening when necessary to safeguard individual rights and promote social harmony. It provides both autonomy and support to religious communities, aiming to maintain a secular and inclusive society.
7. This poster alongside highlights the need for ‘Peace’. It says, “Peace is a never-ending process….It cannot ignore our differences or overlook our common interests.” Write in your own words what you think the above sentences are trying to convey? How does it relate to the need for religious tolerance?
This poster carries a powerful message advocating for peace in society. It emphasizes that peace is a significant and enduring journey, requiring acknowledgment of our differences while also recognizing our shared interests. True peace can only be achieved when we establish coordination and understanding among common interests. Notably, religious tolerance plays a crucial role in this process, highlighting its sensitivity and importance in fostering harmonious coexistence.