Fall of Constantinople and subsequent fleeing of the Byzantine-Greek scholars to Italy, has helped bringing the literature, art and cultural heritage of Greek and Roman into western world that had revived the classical learning and thus a spirit of enquiry developed. This spirit of enquiry stimulated the progress of science, art, architecture, sculpture, painting, literature, geography and religion. This led to the renaissance and consequent reformation. The term Reformation refers to a great religious reform movement in Europe during 16th century. There was a big protest against the Christian Church in different parts of Europe and it ultimately resulted in the emergence of Protestant Christian religion. And perhaps it was the beginning of new dawn where the role of religion into political sphere has to be abolished. And thus the process of secularization began.
In the West, the word secular implies three things: freedom of religion, equal citizenship to each citizen regardless of his or her religion, and the separation of religion and state. One of the core principles in the constitution of Western democracies has been this separation, with the state asserting its political authority in matters of law, while accepting every individual’s right to pursue his or her own religion and the right of religion to shape its own concepts of spirituality. Everyone is equal under law, and subject to the same laws irrespective of his or her religion, in the West.
In contrast, in India, the word secular does not imply separation of religion and state. The genesis of secularism in India needs to be understood before we venture into the real issue. Divide and rule policy of British has treated Hindu and Muslim differentially, that had created a gulf between them and their aspirations and interests were thus made contradictory to each other. Separate electorate for minorities, its acceptance by congress during Lucknow pact and amalgamating the religious Khilafat movement with otherwise secular movement of Non-Co-operation Movement was few step taken by congress which helped in reinforcing this differential treatment which later became the very base of Indian secularism.
In the name of divide and rule policy the colonial administration, under pressure, enacted the 1937 Indian Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, which instead of separating state and religion for Western secularism, did the reverse. It, along with additional laws such as Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act of 1939 that followed, established the principle that religious laws of Indian Muslims can be their personal laws. It also set the precedent that religious law, such as sharia, can overlap and supersede common and civil laws, that elected legislators may not revise or enact laws that supersede religious laws, that people of one nation need not live under the same laws, and that law enforcement process for different individuals shall depend on their religion. The Indian Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act of 1937 continues to be the law of land of modern India for Indian Muslims, while parliament-based, non-religious uniform civil code passed in mid-1950s applies to Indians who are Hindus (which includes Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Parsees), as well as to Indian Christians and Jews.
These acts along with subsequent differential treatments to Muslims by left oriented governments including Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begumcase had been seen as an act of appeasement by the rightist of our country. They for the first time proclaimed that Indian secularism is nothing more than the act of appeasement. They went further in saying that instead of preparing minorities for becoming the part of main stream, they (Left- read congress), through their differential treatment and in the name of protective discrimination, went well beyond the western notion of secularism and created a society where minorities are becoming more conscious of their own religious interest.
Historian Ronald Inden, have also observed that the Indian government is not really "secular", but one that selectively discriminates against Hindu communities while superficially appeasing Muslim leaders (without actually providing any community or theological benefits to regular Muslims in India). And rightist believed that this very notion of secularism had been enforced upon Indians through state based education system without actually coming from the people as was the case of Western Europe where secularism had been preceded by popular movements. “As we all are the product of this state based education system our ability to revolt against this faulty notion of secularism is limited and are being seen as an act of communalism” Rightists claim.
India must come out of this debate of left-right of Indian secularism. Secularism in the political sense requires the separation of the state from any particular religious order. This can be interpreted in at least two different ways: The first view argues the state be equidistant from all religions – refusing to take sides and having a neutral attitude towards them. The second view insists that the state must not have any relation at all with any religion. In both interpretations, secularism goes against giving any religion a privileged position in the activities of the state. Here first form is more suited to India, where there is no demand that the state stay clear of any association with any religious matter whatsoever. However modern India is not symmetric in its treatment. What is needed is to make sure that in so far as the state has to deal with different religions and members of different religious communities, there must be a basic symmetry of treatment.