Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The significant difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism is that in the west, secularism means the complete separation between religion and state and freedom of religion of all people. In India, secularism means equal treatment of all religions. The term secular essentially means being separate from religion, and secularism means the separation of religion from all other aspects of life pertaining to the political, economic, social, and cultural domains.

Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism PDF

Unlike Western concepts of secularism, India’s secularism does not detach religion and state. Indian Secularism is kind to all forms of faith and its display, whereas Western Secularism withstands the open show of belief rather than in areas of worshipping. Let’s discuss in detail the difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism in this article.

Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism

As per the Western concept of secularism, religion is treated as a private matter and has no place in public life. No public policies are related to religion, completely distancing the state from citizens’ religiously driven activities and practices.

Indian Secularism vs Western Secularism

Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism

Western Secularism

Indian Secularism

In the West, the primary separation between political and religious authority was marked as the process of secularization, with religion becoming a matter of personal choice rather than an obligation.

In the Indian concept of secularism, this distinct separation of the state from religious matters is missing.

In Western secularism, the line between the state and religion is well-defined and obvious.

In Indian Secularism, there is no clear demarcation between state and religion in India.

Another point of Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism is that in Western secularism, all religious institutions and organizations are outside the operation of the state.

But in Indian secularism, the state is neutral to all the different religious groups but is not distinct.

There is no wall of separation between state and religion in India.

Rather, state and religion often intervene in each other’s affairs within the parameters as legally and judicially decided.

Secularism in the West is opposed to the open display of religion other than the places of worship.

Indian Government, on the other hand, is tolerant of all and any forms of religion and its display.

In the West, the state cannot engage in any kind of financial assistance to educational institutions that religious groups manage.

But, In India, the state provides the right to such religious communities to establish and maintain educational institutions and financial assistance.

Indian Secularism and Western Secularism

Indian Secularism proclaims a state of being neutral for all diverse religions. The Western Concept of Secularism implies that the state is separate and treats all religions indifferently. In the Western model, a uniform code of law is used to pass judgment on all religious matters. But, this is not true in the case of Indian secularism.

What is Indian Secularism?

Indian Secularism promotes no official faith in India and shows equivalent respect and honour for all beliefs. The state is very much involved in religious activities, as seen from the setting up of religious-driven departments like the Department of Religious Endowments and the Waqf Board.

  • There is no uniform code of law.
  • Even India’s personal laws on marriage, divorce, inheritance, and alimony are decided by an individual’s religion.

What is Western Secularism?

Under Western Secularism, there is no scope for the idea that a society has the right to follow traditions of its own. The state is separate, treats all religions with apathy, and is not involved in sacred activities and organizations.


Key Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism

The key difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism is that Indian Secularism makes up an optimistic connection between the state and religion. In contrast, Western Secularism does not believe in an open display of theology.

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