How Should Secular Democracy Relate to Religion? Reflections from India

When and Where

Thursday, April 14, 2022 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Sidney Smith Hall / Zoom


Rajeev Bhargava, Director of the Institute of Indian Thought, Centre for the Study of Developing Societes



I have earlier argued that Indian secular Democracy is meant to keep an ambivalent toward religion, in that it respects some aspects of its aspects, while being deeply critical of others. It is marked by an attitude of critical respect towards religion. In my presentation, I wish to extend and amend this argument. As I view it now, the constitutionally grounded secular democracy of India differentiates between being religious and belonging to a religion. It values plural religiosities but is suspicious of Religion. I explore this view comparing and contrasting it with West European and North American conceptions of secular democracies.


Rajeev Bhargava is Director of the Institute of Indian Thought at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi, and past Director of CSDS. A leading scholar of Indian sec-ularism and democracy in India, his many publications include What is Political Theory and Why Do We Need It? (2010), The Promise of India’s Secular Democracy (2010), and the influential Secularism and Its Critics (edited, 1998).   


→ Sidney Smith Hall (limited space) 
→ Zoom

Professor Bhargava will also be leading a workshop for the “Deparochializing Political Thought” project, supported by the ATLAS (Advancing Teaching and Learning in the Arts and Sciences) program of the Faculty of Arts and Science, University of Toronto. The project aims at de-centering Euro-American traditions in the way we teach political theory. 
“Studying and Teaching the Ashokan Inscriptions” 
Date: Thursday, April 14, 10AM - 12PM
Sidney Smith Hall or via zoom
Please RSVP to for either in-person or virtual attendance.


Department of Political Science, Centre for South Asian Civilizations, Department for the Study of Religion