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Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 19:08 GMT
Can Indian secularism survive?
Ayodhya temples
It is 10 years since the day when Hindu hardliners tore down the Babri Masjid in the northern Indian town of Ayodhya.

The event triggered some of the worst communal violence in India's history.

It also provoked deep soul searching about the country's secular traditions and the threats it might be facing from the forces of communalism.

The religious violence that erupted earlier this year in the state of Gujarat appeared to confirm those fears.

But 10 years on, is India more polarised along religious lines then before? Or is secularism and tolerance still alive and well?

Tell us what you think has changed for better or worse since the destruction of the mosque in Ayodhya in 1992.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

I think Indian secularism died the minute the country was partitioned. How can you have a hostile quasi-theocratic state on your border and then deny your own religious identity. If Pakistan wants India to retain its secular character then it should adopt the same principles. I think the rise of militant Hindu nationalism in India has been precipitated by the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism in Pakistan.
Roger Trevelyan, UK

The people of this nation have seen the success of secularism and will guard it at all times

Giri, India
There could be many challenges to the secularism concept in India, but secularism has, is and will triumph. This is because, the people of this nation have seen the success of secularism and will guard it at all times.
Giri, India

India has had many Muslim people occupying top positions, who wouldn't have if we were a theocratic state. There are Muslims who, by sheer hard work, earned their places as stalwarts in Indian history. They have been pioneers in IT Industry, captains and well acknowledged stars in cricket, dominate movie/entertainment industry, have been presidents of India, etc. This Ayodhya issue, Gujarat riots have all been projected as communal issues at the propaganda of vested interests, which otherwise should have been handled as law and order problems with equality of law as per our Indian Constitution. Hindus and Muslims have lived together for centuries in India and will do so as long as our neighbours and politicians stop exploiting these law and order issues with a communal touch.
Sitarama Swamy, India

It is time for the self proclaimed champions of Hindu fundamentalism to realise that they cannot counter Islamic fundamentalism by adopting a more aggressive and violent actions. Such response will only expose the weakness of the movement. The true strength of Hindu philosophy is its ability to absorb as great a diversity as possible, not any fear of diversity.
Barun Mitra, India

Why not talk of secularism in Pakistan or Bangladesh. Both these are fundamentalist Islamic countries. Yet they lecture India on secularism. Both these are envious of India's rapid progress. They blame India for all there woes, but they are very much self-inflicted.
Ganesh Sai, England

The United Nations should give a global definition for secularism. There should be an international law that all the world nations would have to abide by, independent of their majority and minority. This should be practised in Christian majority western nations, Muslim majority Arab nations and Hindu majority India.
Rajesh Adukkadukkath, Bangalore, India

India had been portraying as a secular country since the time it came into being and the world has accepted it as a secular country. But the most damage that has been done to its secular image is by the present government of the BJP that its dubious allies in some extremist Hindu organizations that don't believe in the coexistence of Hindus and Muslims inside India. Therefore, I seriously doubt the continuation of Indian secularism under any future government.
Khalid, Pakistan

Situation is worsening day by day in India. No religion graces violence, but the religious leaders are still fighting over a small holy land in Ayodhya. If it belongs to both religions - Hinduism and Islam, why not build a mosque and a temple in the same complex?
Pravesh Saria, Nepal/USA

India has more than 850 million Hindus and yet today the Babri Masjid still stands (broken but still there). The mosque has been disused for many years and it is still there awaiting a Supreme Court decision.
Shiva Kumar, Kochi, Kerela, India

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