Secularisation has had a tremendous impact on Indian society. The authority of religion over the society has diminished greatly. This is evident from the gradual breakdown of the caste system, the increase in inter-religious marriages, the abolition of untouchability and the improved status of women. Ideals of equality, fraternity and brotherhood are now ingrained in the society. State-owned educational institutions and government offices are required to strictly adhere to a secular policy.
The main features of secularisation, as stated by Vidya Bhushan and Sachdeva are as follows:
(i) Decrease in religious beliefs:
Secularisation is opposed to blind faith in religion. As secularisation grows, the customary practices of religious rites decrease and they have to stand the test of logic and reason to survive. Religious customs and rituals performed at the time of births, deaths and marriages are slowly losing their value. Secularisation is therefore marked by a decrease in the influence of religion on the different aspects of social life.
Religion no longer binds the various aspects of social life. Economic, political, legal and ethical facets of social life exist independently of religious influences and are subject to their respective principles and doctrines. Secularisation is therefore characterized by a differentiation or separation of different aspects of social life such that they exist independent of religious influences.
Secularisation appeals to the rational side of man. Religious customs are followed so long as they are in keeping with rationality and reason – but not when they defy logic and plain reasoning.
(iv) Scientific attitude:
Secularisation is often accompanied by a replacement of religious explanations by scientific explanations. There is therefore a perceptible shift from faith in religious beliefs to a reliance on scientific theories and explanations.