On my recent trip to India, I had an instance of how misunderstood the term "securalism" has become in India's politico today...
The Railways is a great leveler. For the period of the journey, you get to talk on par with people from all walks of life. I met an interesting, old Muslim gentleman on the Dadar (Mumbai-Chennai).
Old man to me: So, would you marry my nephew? He is smart and intelligent but he is a Muslim.
Me: (laughing) Well, if it was that easy!
Old man: You are Hindu? Ah, you don't like Muslims!
Me: No, it has nothing to do with it.
Old man: Then why are you averse to the idea?
Old man: (shaking his head) Ah, you are a Hindu fundamentalist; not secular.
Me (Totally confused at this tangent): ????????????????!!!!!!!?
(Who says that only women go on tangents?:))
And the old man didn't talk to me for the rest of the journey!So, these days, I gotta marry an unknown Muslim whose Uncle thinks it is a good match in order for me to be "secular". Sweet.
The Spectre of Jinnah
Jinnah must be turning in his grave. A half-century after the demise of the founding father of Pakistan, he still lingers fresh in people's memories; fresh enough to brew trouble, this time in the House of Saffron. India Today carries a series of articles on the soup that Advani has landed himself in with his comments on Jinnah.
Amidst the ruckus that Advani caused by calling Jinnah "secular", some say, "Why bother with issues surrounding a man who's been dead for a long time?". Some others, like the VHP and RSS, are adamant that Jinnah shouldn't be characterized as a secular figure.
I don't think you can ignore some things as being in the past. After all, the past is what defines the present. But neither can you say that the past is all black and white. Jinnah may have caused the bifurcation of the erstwhile British Raj but then he might have had his own ideas on secularism just as our netas have today (And most of what our honourable netas say are skewed, politically motivated and utter crap!). I prefer not to judge Jinnah. I think he must've been a complex man and perhaps, he had his own reasons....
[Larry Collins and Dominique LaPierre give a more unbiased (I thought it unbiased. My dad disagrees with me.), objective view of Jinnah's political motivations in their "Freedom at Midnight". Read it if you get a chance!]