“Secularism Doesn’t Mean You Deny Your Own Religion”: S Jaishankar

Secularism means respect for all religions and it does not mean that you deny your own religion or are somehow not proud of your culture and heritage, said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Sunday, clarifying what he means by the concept.

His remarks came during an interactive session in Odisha’s Cuttack while campaigning for the BJP amid Lok Sabha elections.

On being asked how secularism can be incorporated in the country’s foreign policy, EAM Jaishankar explained, “Now first of all let us be very clear what we mean by secularism. Secularism means respect for all religions. Secularism does not mean that you deny your own religion or you are somehow not proud of your culture and heritage. Today’s Bharat there are history, culture, and traditions.”

“These are facts of life. If something was there 3,000 years ago, it was a reality. So we should not be defensive about many of these things. I would respect all religions but obviously like you know, as an individual I will have pride in mind as a state I will be acting in a way in which I take cognizance of all but I do not in any way have to play down my own identity in that respect. And I think we get respect for it also,” he said.

He also highlighted that India has become a “Vishwabandhu” nation that works with everyone in harmony in the world which has instability, chaos and war.

“A ‘Vishwabandhu’ nation has an international advantage. A ‘Vishwabandhu’ works with everyone in harmony in a world which has instability, chaos and war. This has become India’s identity now. For our national security, we have so many partners, that we can join hands with America, Europe, Russia, Gulf countries or Israel,” EAM said.

“They may have internal conflicts. A country that can deal with and establish partnerships with different countries for its national interests is called a Vishwabandhu. A Vishwabandhu does ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas’ on global level,” he added.

EAM Jaishankar’s take on secularism comes when US President Joe Biden said that India, China, Japan and Russia have a “xenophobic” nature.

Biden said the “xenophobic” nature of India, China, Japan and Russia is responsible for their economic troubles and argued that America’s economy is growing because it welcomes immigrants to its soil. He made the statement while campaigning for his re-election at a Washington fundraising event and argued that Japan, along with Russia and China, would perform better economically if the countries embraced immigration more.

After US President’s remark, EAM Jaishankar on Saturday refuted US President Joe Biden’s “xenophobia” remark and argued that India’s economic growth is at 7 per cent which is higher than many other countries. Jaishankar reiterated that India is the most open, pluralistic and diverse society and is not “xenophobic”.

“We are the most open society, till date I have never seen such an open society, such a pluralistic society, such a diverse society, so I would say that we are actually not just not xenophobic, we are the most open, most pluralistic and in many ways, the most understanding society in the world,” EAM Jaishankar said while interacting with professionals in Bhubaneswar on his book “Why Bharat Matters”.

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