It’s truly mind boggling that there is such a huge hue and cry over Nepal adopting a secular Constitution. But more puzzling is the reaction of India to this development. The internal protests in Nepal are understandable but why is India unhappy? The common man is puzzled that a secular country can be such a threat to another secular country. Secularism by definition means that the State shall officially not participate in any rituals of its population. Whether any country follows it to the letter is another matter altogether. India is supposed to be a secular democratic state according to the preamble of the Constitution. But have our Prime Ministers, chief ministers and other people in public life ever maintained the sanctity of the secular definition? In fact the politicians and VIPs like to make a show of their visits to the various shrines, temples and other place of worship. Some of them have been photographed getting touched or rather kicked on the head by the feet of some naked babas sitting on a tree.
That is actually supposed to reestablish their identity with their voters. The only party which honestly tried to maintain an honest record with regard to their adherence to the secular fabric was the Communist Party. But their shrinking base even in states where they have traditionally been strong, Kerala and West Bengal, proves that being honestly secular has its own pitfalls especially in a country like India. But I was talking of Nepal. True, Nepal has the largest population of Hindus in the world followed by Mauritius. Till some time back it was the only country which had officially declared Hinduism as its religion. But if an independent and sovereign country like Nepal wants to adopt a secular constitution does India have a right to show its annoyance as it is doing today?
I remember when Atal Behari Vajpayee was the foreign minister of the country he won over the hearts of Nepal’s people by telling them that his visit to Nepal was “like a pilgrimage.”But rhetoric is one thing and officially summoning India’s envoy and expressing its concern over Nepal going secular is not done. It is embarrassing to swear by the India’s secular preamble and protesting that a neighbouring country has gone secular as the Modi government is doing. And it will also go strongly against the policy of non-interference in the affairs of a friendly country even if it a tiny country like Nepal. Coming in the wake of the action of the present regime of Nepal of sending back relief teams from India when they went there to offer help in the aftermath of the recent earthquake it seems India has not yet learnt its lesson.
By Amitabh Srivastava