Subscribe to Secularism is a Womens Issue

Secularism is a Women’s Issue

Home > Resources > Secular States, Religious Politics India, Turkey, and the Future of (...)

Secular States, Religious Politics India, Turkey, and the Future of Secularism


Tuesday 1 October 2019, by siawi3


[(Secular States, Religious Politics
India, Turkey, and the Future of Secularism

Author: Sumantra Bose, London School of Economics and Political Science

Date Published: May 2018
format: Paperback
isbn: 9781108454865
length: 388 pages)]

A pioneering comparative study of the two major attempts to build secular states - where the state’s constitutional identity and fundamental character are not based on or derived from any religious faith - in the non-Western world. This book explains the origins, evolution and latterly the decline of secularism as a core principle of the state in India and Turkey. The anti-secular political transformations of the twenty-first century are the rise of a Sunni-Islamist definition of Turkish national identity to hegemonic power, and Hindu nationalism as India’s pre-eminent political force. Both secular-state models adopted a similar operational doctrine of state intervention in and regulation of the religious sphere, rather than a Western-style separation of church and state. But, Turkish state-secularism took a culturally deracinated and harshly authoritarian form that led to its failure, whereas India’s secular state - though flawed in practice - followed a culturally rooted and democratic path that makes secularism indispensable to India’s future.

The first-ever comparative study of the Indian and Turkish secular states
Essential for understanding the rise of Hindu nationalism in India, and the consolidation of the Erdogan regime in Turkey
Lucidly written, accessible across disciplines and categories of readers



[(Sumantra Bose
Secular States, Religious Politics:
India, Turkey and the Future of Secularism
Cambridge University Press 2018)]

November 28, 2018

Sumantra Bose,
Listeinterviewed by James M. Dorsey

Sumantra Bose‘s new book Secular States, Religious Politics: India, Turkey and the Future of Secularism (Cambridge University Press, 2018) is a fascinating comparison of the rise of religious parties in the non-Western world’s two major attempts to establish a post-colonial secular state. The secular experiments in Turkey and India were considered success stories for the longest period of time but that has changed with the rise of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party in Turkey and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in India and the capture of state power by political forces with an anti-secular vision of nationhood. In his ground-breaking book, Bose attributes the rise of secularism to the fact that non-Western states like Turkey and India never adopted the Western principle of separation of state and church and instead based their secularism on the principle of state intervention and regulation of the religious sphere. In doing so, Bose distinguishes between the embedding of secularism in Turkey in authoritarianism entrenched in the carving out of the modern Turkish state from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire and the fact that secularism in India is rooted in culture and a democratic form of government. With the anti-secular trend in Turkey and India fitting into a global trend in which cultural and religious identity is gaining traction, Bose’s study constitutes a significant contribution to the study of the future of secularism and the often complex relationship between religious parties and the secular state.

James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

AUDIO Listen here