The preamble of our Constitution guarantees every Indian the liberty of thought, belief, expression, faith and worship. Further, Article 25 of the Constitution says that all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.
The right to propagate religion creates controversies every once in a while. Because propagation naturally leads to conversion sooner or later. Mass conversions always give rise to allegations of coercion and bribery. Even individual conversions are not always above such accusations.
Should the religious sector be regulated? There is a school of thought which believes that there should be a 'cooling off' period required under law to protect the rights of all vendors and consumers. Vendors in this case being the various religions vying for the individual's soul and the consumer being the individual, who should be protected from making vital decisions in the heat of the moment, or under the influence of bribery or coercion. Thus giving all religions an equal opportunity to present their case during the 'cooling off' period, before the individual takes a final decision on whether to convert or not.
There is another school of thought which believes that the state should not take part in any such exercise, but instead insist upon all religions putting their minds together and coming up with a regulatory body to oversee conversions. A self-regulating body formed by all religions, which sets up the code of conduct for conversions, is the best answer to this perennial question according to them.
And then there are those who believe that the state should not do anything at all and let things continue as they are. Because they believe that any regulation would be an encroachment on individual liberties. Why question only religious conversions, why not political ones as well, and then what about career changes by professionals? They too are conversions of a sort. Sooner or later, they feel you will be asking the state to regulate what to cook on which day too.
Should the state just be concerned with maintaining law and order, or do we need some sort of regulatory mechanism to oversee religious conversions? I would like to hear your thoughts on this.