India/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.8 Social cohesion and cultural policies

Social cohesion issues in India primarily run on the broad question of secularism. Following the 42nd Amendment to the Indian Constitution, it was firmly established that India did not have an official state religion, and that all Indians had the right to preach, practice and propagate any religion they chose, and that the government must not favour or discriminate against any religion. It also required that no religious instruction could be imparted in government or government-aided schools.

The divide has been whether such an amendment effectively, in practice, requires the state to abolish religion in the name of secularism, or permit all religions to equally exist and define an inter-faith linkage that could be now named secularism.

Good practice which could be recognised as innovative for inter/multicultural and inter-religious programmes and activities

An example: Auroville is an experimental township in the state of Tamil Nadu and is governed by the Auroville Foundation, through an act of the Indian Parliament. This township is ‘dedicated to the promotion of international understanding and the realisation of an actual human unity’. The Foundation is fully controlled by the Indian Government. The Ministry of Human Resource Development appoints the Governing Board who, in turn, appoints the key committees such as the Funds and Assets Management, the Budget Co-ordination and City Planning Authority.

Auroville is an exercise in multiculturalism. People from more than 50 nationalities are residents of this city. The township also contains various permanent pavilions representing the nations and cultures of the world. There are many cutting edge experiments underway in the areas of education, community living, architecture, sustainability and handicraft development. 

Chapter published: 22-04-2014