Sabarimala temple ruling distances courts from Indians steeped in tradition

The more I think of it, the stronger are my fears that the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Sabarimala case will hurt the very Indian republic that allowed a deeply iniquitous tradition to be overturned, allowing women equal rights to worship at the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. I am not a conservative defender of religious traditions. Far from it, I say this as a liberal nationalist with deep convictions in the Enlightenment values enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

Why? Because the court’s decision further distances constitutional order from a large part of society that remains wedded to tradition. And why is that a cause for concern? Because both a religious conservative and a liberal have one vote each, liberals are generally outnumbered and thus electorally outgunned. Democracy amplifies social reaction, and creates governments, laws, law enforcement officials and even judges who are likely to side with what is popular than what is constitutional. If you don’t believe me, just read the news. We are already in the middle a moral panic where there is a finite risk that the current Constitution of India could be substantively amended if not replaced, almost as the immune reaction of an age-old civilisation that didn’t undergo the same intellectual-historical journey as western Europe.

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