Secularism, Multiculturalism and Legal Pluralism: A Comparative Analysis Between the Indian and Western Constitutional Philosophy

DOI10.1177/2322005819859674
Date01 January 2020
Published date01 January 2020
Article
Secularism, Multiculturalism and
Legal Pluralism: A Comparative
Analysis Between the Indian and
Western Constitutional Philosophy
Yashomati Ghosh1
Anirban Chakraborty2
Abstract
India over thousands of years had become a ‘melting pot’ of religious, linguistic and cultural diversity,
and thereby created a unique cultural fabric based on the principles of multiculturalism and pluralism.
The ancient Indian philosophy was based on the ideals of vasudaivakutumbakam - the whole world is one
family and sarvadharmasambhava- all religion leads to the same destination. These philosophical notions
have attained legal status in the India. This article will focus on the background and constitutional
perspective of secularism as implemented in India, the Supreme Court’s interpretation of secularism
and identification of certain religious practices as an essential and integral part of a religion and lastly
the role of the State in regulating the freedom of religion.
Introduction
The term ‘India’ has varied implication. In modern political context, it refers to the country which gained
independence in 1947 with a defined political boundary. In historical context, it was either described as
the land beyond the Hindukush mountains or the land where the river Sindhu (at present referred to as
River Indus). In social context, it was called as Hindustan referring to the people living in the Indian
subcontinent as Hindus. For centuries, people from different parts of the world had entered the Indian
subcontinent as invaders, traders, refugees, religious propagators, etc., and had settled down, and thereby
bringing their individual culture, language and religion with them. India for over thousands of years had
become a ‘melting pot’ of religious, linguistic and cultural diversity, and thereby created a unique cultural
fabric based on the principles of multiculturalism and pluralism. The ancient Indian philosophy was
1 Associate Professor of Law, National Law School of India University, Bangalore, Karnataka, India.
2 Maharashtra National Law University, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India.
Asian Journal of Legal Education
7(1) 73–81, 2020
© 2019 The West Bengal National
University of Juridical Sciences
Reprints and permissions:
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DOI: 10.1177/2322005819859674
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Corresponding author:
Yashomati Ghosh, National Law School of India University, P.O. Bag 7201, Nagarbhavi, Bangalore 560072,
Karnataka, India.
E-mail: yashomati@nls.ac.in

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