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Class 8 > Civics > Understanding Secularism Class 8 Civics Chapter 2 – Explanation, Question and Answers

Understanding Secularism Class 8 Civics Chapter 2 – Explanation, Question and Answers

Understanding Secularism Class 8 Civics Chapter 2

CBSE Class 8 Civics Chapter 2 Understanding Secularism – Detailed explanation of the chapter ‘Understanding Secularism’ along with question answers. Given here is the complete explanation of the lesson, along with all the exercises, Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson.

Class 8 Civics – Chapter 2

Understanding Secularism

understanding secularism



Suppose you are a Hindu or Muslim living in a country where Christians are in majority. You come across Christian fundamentalism from time to time. Even if you are that country’s citizens and have all valid documents still you have a hard time while renting a home. These things are bound to make you unhappy. On one side, you will feel that even Christians deserve to be treated in the same manner in areas where Hindus and Muslims are in majority. This is a way of retaliation.

However, as a responsible citizen you will also feel that everyone is liable to get justice. No one should be discriminated on the basis of their religion. This example demonstrates that there should be no descrimination against ones’ religious beliefs. It is an essence of Secularism. 


In this chapter, the students would what is Secularism in terms of Indian context.  


If you read History, then you will come across several such instances when a large number of people from different regions of the world had to face persecution, exclusion and descrimination on the basis of the religion that they followed. When Hitler ruled Germany, he prosecuted millions of Jews claiming that they belonged to an inferior race. 


In recent times, there have been news of Israeli Jews treating Muslims and Christians (who are minorities in Israel) harshly. In Saudi Arabia, apart from Islam, one can’t practise any other religion in public.


From the above example, it is clear that people belonging to a majority religion in a particular country try to harass those belonging to minority religions. If a country has a particular state religion, then religious harassments are more common in such a place. No person likes to be discriminated against on the basis of religion that she practises. 


What is Secularism?

In the last chapter it has been given that the Indian Constitution provides fundamental rights to its citizens that protect them from the State and against oppressive rules of those in the majority. Our Constitution gives us the freedom to follow our own religious beliefs and practice them as we wish. While keeping the idea of religious freedom in their minds, the lawmakers adopted a strategy to separate the power of religion and power of state. 


Secularism is separation of religion from state.


Why Do We Need to Separate Religion from the State?


Secularism is all about separation of religion from the power of State. It helps a democratic country to function properly. Almost all countries around the world have more than one religious community residing in them. Out of these religious communities, one is a majority religion. If that majority country has access to ‘Power,’ then it is possible that it could misuse the laws and financial resources against those who are in the minority. There could also be some cases of persecution. 


Those in the majority have chances of creating tyranny by coersion, discrimination and even killing the minority people. There are instances of majorities not allowing minorities to practise their religion. If a religion starts dominating others, it is considered as a violation of rights. In a democracy, every citizen has the right to practise his/her own religion. Hence, the violation of Fundamental Rights and tyranny by those belonging to the majority religion is the major reason why we need to separate religion and politics. 


Apart from that, it is important to protect an individual’s freedom if he or she wishes to exit from his or her religion and embrace another one or wishes to have freedom to interpret religious teachings differently. This is another reason why religion and power should be kept separate. For example, if power lies with the Hindus they still face a lot of resistance from their own community if they wish to make a law for a minority community such as Muslims. 


What is Indian Secularism?

According to Indian Constitution, our country is secular. A Secular State can ensure its objectives by following these points:

  1. One religious community should not dominate the other one.
  2. Members belonging to one religious community should not dominate those who are in a minority.
  3. The state will never enforce any religion or take away the citizen’s religious freedom. 

Indian government is trained to work in different ways to prevent these kinds of dominations. It uses a strategy to keep itself away from religious issues. The Government of India does not support any religion nor it is ruled by one. Several government spaces such as police stations, offices, courts, etc. are not allowed to promote or display any religion. 


In order to prevent religious domination, the Indian government has adopted a strategy of non-interference. To make sure that there is no interference in religious practises and sentiments of all religions are respected, the government makes certain exceptions for a particular community. 


Sometimes, the Government of India also uses the strategy of interventions to sort out religious issues. In Hinduism, we come across cases of untouchability. Often, we see that people of the ‘Upper Castes’ dominate those belonging to ‘lower castes’ in different ways. To prevent such cases, our Constitution has banned untouchability. The State intervenes in religious cases from time to time, if it finds that any social practise excludes or discriminates against those belonging to the society’s lower structure. The law immediately takes action if it finds out that fundamental rights of a citizen are being violated on the basis of religion. 


The Indian Government is also known to intervene in certain religious matters by providing them support. According to the Constitutions, the religious communities in India have the right to set up their own colleges and schools. On a non-preferential basis, the Government can also provide them financial aid. 


How Indian Secularism is Different from other Countries?

Some of the above-mentioned points regarding the practise of Secularism by the Indian Government were included from different Democratic countries that practise ‘Secularism.’ For example, in the case of the United States, the 1st Amendment’ of its Constitution doesn’t allow the legislature to make laws regarding ‘establishment of any religion’ or ‘prohibit free practise of religion.’ Here, no preference has been given to one religion. In that country, the separation between religion and state means that none of them can interfere in the matters of one another.


However, there is still one difference between the way Secularism is practised in our Country and in the US. In the US, there is a strict separation of religion and State. However, in India the Government can interfere in a few religious matters. For example, our Government has to interfere in the cases of ‘Untouchability’ from time to time. 


According to the Indian Constitution, even though the religion and state are not strictly separate but they have to maintain a safe distance. It means that the State is allowed to interfere in the matters by taking decisions that are based on the ideals laid down by the Constitution. These ideals are in the form of certain standards through which citizens can judge if the Government is following the ‘Secular’ principles while taking such decisions. 


India is a secular country and our Government works in different ways to tackle religious domination. The Constitution of India provides Fundamental rights to its citizens that are based on Secular principles. Although there are some cases where the religious violations of these rights takes place. Hence, every citizen should be aware of his rights. It will enable him or her to take action in such a scenario.


 Question and Answers


Q1. List the different types of religious practice that you find in your neighbourhood. This could be different forms of prayer, worship of different gods, sacred sites, different kinds of religious

music and singing etc. Does this indicate freedom of religious practice?

Ans. In a neighbourhood, one may find different people practising different religions. A society has people belonging to different religions such as Hinduism, Muslims, Sikhism, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism among others living together in harmony. Accordingly, they have different religious places where they offer prayers such as Temples, Mosques, Churches, Gurudwaras, etc. They also celebrate their own festivals throughout the year where they invite people of other faiths as well. All these activities indicate that in a neighbourhood, all citizens practise their religion with freedom by living together in a secular environment.


Q2. Will the government intervene if some religious group says that their religion allows them to

practise infanticide? Give reasons for your answer.

Ans. A Democratic Government will never accept a religious group’s demand if they state that their religion allows them to practise infanticide. It is illegal and even goes against fundamental rights of a citizen. In this case, an innocent is being killed simply in the name of religion which is unacceptable. If such a case arises, the Government interferes to stop it. The Government follows stringent laws to stop such practises. This, in turn, ensures equality and freedom in the society.


Q3. Complete the following:


Objective Why is this important? Example of Violation of this Objective
One religious community

does not dominate another.

The State does not enforce

any particular religion nor

take away the religious

freedom of individuals

That some members do not

dominate other members

of the same religious





Objective Why is this important? Example of Violation of this Objective
One religious community

does not dominate another.

To protect the freedom of religion which is a fundamental right. The killing of cattle traders in Rajasthan suspecting that they were carrying beef.
The State does not enforce

any particular religion nor

take away the religious

freedom of individuals

To uphold the ideals of Indian Constitution which allows its citizens to practise their religion and follow their customs.  In 2004, people were banned from wearing head scarves or turbans in public places by the French Government.
That some members do not

dominate other members

of the same religious


To ensure that individual freedom of a citizen belonging to a religion is not violated by others if the former does not wishes to follow certain customs. Islam is divided into Sunni and Shia sects. In many Islamic countries Shias are oppressed by Sunni people. 


Q4. Look up the annual calendar of holidays of your school. How many of them pertain to different religions? What does this indicate?

Ans. According to the School Calendar, there are holidays on different festivals such as Id, Guru Nanak Dev Jayanti, Christmas, Muharram, Rakshabandhan, etc. This indicates that the School has a secular environment where it gives importance to every religion. Irrespective of a religion’s festival, all students are given a holiday on that particular day. 


Q5.  Find out some examples of different views within the same religion.

Ans. In Hinduism, some women still cover their heads under ‘Purdah’ system while some don’t. In Muslim community, few women are strictly told to wear abayas or Burka while some can wear the dresses of their choice. In Sikhism, few men like to wear turban while others choose to cut the hair. 


Q6. The Indian State both keeps away from religion as well as intervenes in religion. This idea can be quite confusing. Discuss this once again in class using examples from the chapter as well as those that you might have come up with.


  1. The Government of India keeps itself separate from religion. It is not dominated by any particular religion. As the Constitution allows a religion to set up any institution to promote its culture – if such a case arises then the Government can provide financial aid. 
  2. All religions are respected equally in India. To prevent the cases of domination by a particular community, the Government can interfere in such cases through support or coercion. 
  3. Sometimes the Government has to interfere in religious cases if someone is dominating the weak. For example, in the case of Triple Talaq a few Muslim Men simply divorced their wives by uttering ‘talaq’ three times due to which these women had to suffer a lot. Hence, the Government decided to abolish this practise and decided to punish those who still used it to harass their wives. 
  4. The State also follows the policy of non-interference. In a few rules, certain exemptions are allowed so that religious sentiments of a person are not hurt. For example, Sikh motorists are allowed to ride two-wheelers without helmets. 


Q7. This poster alongside highlights the need for ‘Peace’. It says, “Peace is a never-ending

process….It cannot ignore our differences or overlook our common interests.” Write in

your own words what you think the above sentences are trying to convey? How does it

relate to the need for religious tolerance?













Ans. Every person wishes to spend his life peacefully and wishes to live in harmony with others. Every religion preaches certain qualities such as brotherhood, non-violence, peace and humanity. Not only a single person, but the whole community needs peace for security, to live respectfully, etc. 


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