Author: Mani Shankar Aiyar
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0670058173
Ever since 1986, when the locks on the gates of the makeshift Ram Lalla temple within the precincts of the Babri Masjid were opened, the debate over secularism and communalism has been revived in all its sound and fury. It now occupies centre stage in our public discourse.
In Confessions of a Secular Fundamentalist, Mani Shankar Aiyar, parliamentarian, commentator and crusader for a secular credo, calls for an unambiguous and decisive restoration of secularism to the core of our nationhood. In doing so, he revisits every dimension of our secular ethos and exposes the various myths perpetuated by communal elements of all hues. Putting under the scanner contentious issues like conversions, uniform civil code and Article 370, he nails the falsehoods underlying terms like pseudo-secularism, appeasement and soft Hindutva. And he places the domestic debate over secularism in India in the wider external dimension by discussing the experiences of countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Israel and erstwhile Yugoslavia.
Admitting to wearing his secularism on his sleeve, Aiyar reasons that only a determined and inflexible adherence to secularism, in principle and in practice, can counter religious bigotry and fundamentalism. Clear in his convictions, with history, logic and persuasive argument at his command, this is Mani Shankar Aiyar at his best, on a subject that we can ignore only at our own peril.
PROLOGUE: A CONVERSATION WITH ARUN SHOURIE
Secularism: An Overview
The Ideological Dimension
The Historical Dimension
The Constitutional and Legal Dimensions
Secularism in a Time of Communal Activism
Secularism and the Indian Religious Minorities
The External Dimension
In Conclusion: Why I am a Secular Fundamentalist
APPENDIX: Secular Answers to Communal
QUESTIONS-A Catechism for Communalists