Religious nationalism
is spreading fast in several parts of the world. In each context, there are
specific reasons for the ascendancy of this brand of nationalism. It has
engendered serious conflicts and violence. It is a permanent threat to the
survival of the poor and the marginalised, their identity and dignity. The new
avatar of nationalism creates serious polarisation in terms of
insider/outsider, we/they. Furthermore, it has a dangerous homogenising tendency
that does not allow for difference and pluralism. It functions by exploiting
religious symbols, rites and myths. In the process, it violently co-opts or
suppresses other identities. On the other hand, secular nationalism is supposed to transcend the sphere of religion
and religious identities. It is centred on a separation of religion and
politics in its strict interpretation, and equi-distance of the state from
religion in its more liberal version. It relies on the basic equality of all
citizens. The crucial question is whether secular nationalism could be a
response to religious nationalism and can stem its tide. 
secular nationalism has its own points of strength, it seems to be inadequate
to face up to the challenge posed by religious nationalism. Specifically, there
are many doubts about its capacity to defend the cause of the poor and the
oppressed. There is, in the first place, a general opinion that “secular” is a
Western concept that is ill at ease in our Indian context. The conception of
neutrality implied in the understanding of secular is formal in nature. We need
a substantive conception of equality
that would take into account the incontestable fact of plurality of groups and
identities, especially the vulnerable groups. Granting that this is possible
within the frame of secular nationalism, we cannot, however, ignore the fact
that the “secular” has become a highly debated question when it comes to
interpretation. As a result, strangely though, the religious nationalists
themselves could claim to be true secularists and brand others as
“pseudo-secularists”. I mean to say that the secular approach is preoccupied so
much with the negativities of religion that it is not able to tap the
humanistic message religions have to offer.
need to move in the direction of an inclusive humanistic nationalism that would
uphold the cause of the poor and the marginalised. It will create the space for
religious insights to play their humanising role in society. Humanistic
nationalism suggests the particularity of nation and fuses it with the
universalistic vision which is very important for the encounter of people and
culture. It will ensure, within the nation itself, that no group of people is
neglected or left out. It will be particularly attentive to the marginalised
and vulnerable groups by setting in operation social equity.
one of the avenues open for a religion’s involvement is the collaboration with
new social movements, which go in the direction of secularity and social
equity. These movements try to bring ethics in action and transcend the narrow
boundaries of caste and creed. Its support to humanistic nationalism would be
in the form of fostering pluralism that is very crucial for harmonious and just
inter-relationship among the groups and identities subsumed under the nation. 
Collected & Contributed By- 

Agriti Shrivastava,

Article Analyst, FSA
CNLU, Patna

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