Secularism means पंथनिरपेक्ष/Panthnirpeksh. Panthnirpeksh means "No preference" to any Sect or Group. It absolutely and categorically does NOT mean that all religions are equal. It literally means indifference to, or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations in public life and government policies. This is also validated as per 42nd amendment to the Preamble of the Constitution of Bharat (misnomer: India) in 1976 by then despotic Prime Minister Indira Nehru Gandhi. Unfortunately, this amendment was passed without any debate when opposition was in jail during the dark days of emergency, which remains a blot on Indian Democracy and was enforced on India by dictatorial Indira Gandhi.
Secularism means पंथनिरपेक्ष/Panthnirpeksh and does NOT mean धर्मनिरपेक्ष/Dharmnirpeksh. Let me say it again, Secularism ≠ धर्मनिरपेक्ष/Dharmnirpeksh AND Secularism ≠ बिनसाम्प्रदाय/Bin-Sampradaya. Those who say this are fools and may be unintentionally calling themselves as fascists. To understand this, we have to understand what does Dharm means?
Sanatan Dharm is too vast and deep to be defined in one line. Its a popular misconception that Religion equals Dharma. It is a misconception because Religion is only a minuscule part of Dharma. Its a misnomer that they are exactly same and it is inappropriate to loosely use them interchangeably.
Here are few attempts to define Dharma in Bharatiya (misnomer: Indian) history:
तादृशोऽयमनुप्रश्नो यत्र धर्मः सुदुर्वचःDharma is not just mere Religion as latter is minuscule part of ones Dharm (righteous duties). Religion is a sect or group of people following certain beliefs or ideology which can be truly defined by a Sanskrit word "Panth" and not "Dharm". Hence, if Dharm is "that which upholds, nourishes or supports the stability of society, maintains social order and secures the general well-being and progress of mankind" and "Nirpekshta" means "no adherence to" then "Dharm-Nirpekshta" means "no adherence to Dharm". Which means those who claim themselves to be Dharm-Nirpeksh, as do most of the Bharatiya (misnomer: Indian) politicians especially from Indian National Congress, RJD, DMK, BSP, SP, etc political parties, are actually saying that they have no adherence to upholding Dharm (upholds, nourishes or supports the stability of society, maintains social order and secures the general well-being and progress of mankind).
दुष्करः प्रतिसंख्यातुं तर्केणात्र व्यवस्यति ९
प्रभावार्थाय भूतानां धर्मप्रवचनं कृतम्
यत्स्यादहिंसासंयुक्तं स धर्म इति निश्चयः १०
- भीष्म उवाच दशाधिक शततमोऽध्यायः शान्तिपर्व महाभारत
"Dharma" is that which upholds, nourishes or supports the stability of society, maintains social order and secures the general well-being and progress of mankind.
- Supreme Court of India
As India has recognised national flag, national bird, national anthem and national flower, the Bhagwad Gita may also be considered as the Rashtriya Dharma Shastra. The Gita inspired our national struggle for freedom and all walks of life,. It is the duty of every citizen of India under Article 51A of the Constitution of India irrespective of caste, creed or religion to follow the dharma propounded by the Bhagwad Gita,.
- Prayagraj High Court
Which means they are proudly claiming themselves to be Adharmi & may be unintentionally calling themselves as fascists.
Heck Yeah! Hindus are inherently pluralistic in nature & believe in secular value of not giving preference to anyone sect or group. Certainly, allot more Pluralist & Secular than those who follow Abrahamic mythologies which are all based on intolerant concept of "Holier than thou" or "أشهد أن لا إله إلاَّ الله و أشهد أن محمدا رسول الله / ašhadu ʾan laa ilāha illa (A)llāh, wa ʾašhadu ʾanna Muḥammada(n) rasūlo (A)llāh / Allah is the ONLY God & Mohamed is his messenger, no one before them" (shahadah). It amazes me when Leftist bigots or self-righteous Westerners out of their Dhimmitude accuse Hindus of not being "secular" but conveniently ignore intolerance of these totalitarian ideologies like Islam & Christianity.
Leftist bigots or self-righteous Westerners should teach these supremacist cults to Mutually Respect us non-believer/infidel/kuffar Hindus rather than "tolerating" us.
Has any other sect or group of people, like Hindus, been so religiously tolerant and mutually respectful to any other sect in the history of Humanity? No. We have survived over 20000 years with natural & man made calamities, atrocities and genocide led by Muslims, Mongols, Alexander, Evangelic Christians missionary conversions, British et al and we are still over 800 Million Hindus in the world.
It's been possible to be the longest surviving civilization in the world only because of the strong fundamentals and ground work of Sanatan Vedic Dharm done by our Rishi Munis (seers), our Gods avtar (incarnation on Earth) like Baman ji, Shri Ram ji, Shri Krishna ji and it's Sanatan Vedic Dharm Anuyayi's (misnomers: Hindus) big heart to still let at least 4 other religions (Jain, Buddhist, Sikh, et al) to originate and also assimilate other fellow sect of most oppressed people in the world, the Jews, Parsi, Zohrashtrians et al, by letting them settle with peace and honor in Bharat. So don't tell us Hindus, if we are "Secular" or not. We don't need your certificate.
Following is a debate on "Is Secularism the Solution to Communal Conflict in India?" at Rethinking Religion in India in 2009. Its a nine part series but I am posting only two important parts in which Prof. S.N. Balagangadhara and Dr. Jakob De Roover of Ghent University, Belgium presented their views on how to define Secularism.