Yes, every generation must debate secularism. School textbooks aren’t enough

Many people were upset last week that NDTV 24×7— even NDTV — decided that secularism ought to be a topic of debate. Amid the prevailing climate of deep political polarisation, prejudice and suspicion, some saw this debate segment, which asked panelists whether “Secularism Is Essential To Democracy”,as a sign that this media house, too, was caving in to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s line of thinking. Others were outraged that there should be a debate on the topic at all — for isn’t the need for secularism self-evident? Isn’t the principle non-negotiable, being part of the basic structure of the Indian republic? It is understandable that the beleaguered advocates of secularism should feel this way. But you don’t have to be a BJP supporter or religious Right-winger to argue that a debate on secularism is not only a good thing, and not only necessary at this time, but something that needs to take place regularly.

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