21-22|March|Consultation on “Responding to Contemporary Challenges to Secularism in India”

Consultation on “Responding to Contemporary Challenges to Secularism in India” 

Bangalore, March 21 and 22, 2015

 Organised by the Alternative Law Forum with The Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, NLSIU

Venue:United Theological College

The Constitutional framework with its guarantee of the right to freedom to profess, practice, propagate the religion of one’s choice has come under increasing attack with the tenet of secularism as a concept integral to the nation’s imagination of itself being questioned. The idea that India is a nation that belongs to the majority community and the minorities can only live in the country as second class citizens finds increasingly sway and purchase.

Perhaps one indicator of this shift in national mood is the resurgence in the popularity of the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, Nathuram Godse. The demand from fringe groups that a temple be built to Godse, the media coverage of this demand, the mainstream media space occupied by these so called fringe groups as well as the studied silence of the ruling dispensation to these ideas lets us know that something is rotten in the state of India.

While the debate on the so called Godse temple is only a sign of the times, there are ominous actions which indicate a profound challenge to the idea of Indian secularism as guaranteeing equality before the law regardless of the religious faith you come from.

This consultation will seek to understand the contemporary moment, marked as it is by acceleration of the process of neo-liberalisation as well as deepening of the politics of communalisation. This consultation will seek to place the various issues which affect the secular character of India in this context. This consultation aims to shed light on the dimensions of the crisis confronting the idea of a secular India as well as the way groups have sought to mobilize the law in responding to the multiple challenges to the idea of a secular state.

Throughout the consultation Jis tann lãgé, soee jãné | Photo Exhibit will be set up for pubic viewing

The consultation is open to all.

Order of Programme and Speakers

March 21

9.00 am -9.10 am:                    Introduction

9.10 am – 11.00 am:                 Challenges to the notion of secularism as part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution

  • Irfan Engineer
  • Sudhir Krishnaswamy
  • Arvind Narrain – Chair

11.00 am-11.15 am:                    Tea Break – 15 minutes

11.15 am- 1.30 pm:                    The instigation of pogroms against the minority community.

  • Pritha Rani Jha
  • Saumya Uma
  • Warisha Farasat
  • Aman Wadud
  • Santanu Chakraborty – Chair

1.30 pm– 2.30 pm;                     Lunch

2.30pm – 4.00pm:                   The use of immoral policing/communal policing to restrict the autonomy of choice


  • Naveen Soorinje
  • Arvind Narrain
  • Shakun Mohini
  • Darshana Mitra – Chair

4.00 pm – 4.30 pm                 Tea Break

4.30pm-                                     Singing in the dark times | Music and Conversation

  • Vidrohi Shahiri Jalsa Featuring Sambhaji Bhagat, Babasaheb Aatkhile and Dhammarakshit Randive
  • Kabir Project Featuring Vipul Rikhi

March 22

9.30 am – 11.00 am:

Towards a fascist future?

  • Teesta Setalvad
  • Babu Mathew
  • VS Shreedhara – Chair


11.15 am-11.15am           :           Tea Break

11.15am – 1.00pm:

The use of hate speech by fringe groups to incite hatred on basis of religion

  • Lawrence Liang
  • Gautam Bhatia
  • Danish Sheikh – Chair

1.00 pm -2.00 pm :                  Lunch

2.00pm- 3.30pm:                     Conversion and its implications in India

  • Ajay Singh
  • Swar Thounaojam
  • Robin Christopher J – Chair

3.30 Pm-5.00pm                      Arbitrary Arrests in terror cases of those of a minority community with a view to constructing the entire community as ‘permanent suspects’.

  • Sharib Ali
  • Lateef Mohammed
  • Mahtab Alam – Chair

5.00pm- 6.00pm                      Moving forward – Robin Christopher J & Darshana Mitra


High Tea and Conclusion


To know more email ramya@altlawforum.org

Call 8050005354