|“The antagonism practiced by the members of one community against the people of other community and |
religion can be termed as communalism” – Ram Ahuja
- India is a land of multiple faiths and religions leading often to violence and hatred among the people. Those who fan this religious violence do not consider religion as a moral order but use it as a means and weapons to pursue their political ambitions.
- Communalism, in a broad sense, means a strong attachment to one’s own community. In a popular discourse in India, it is understood as an unhealthy attachment to one’s own religion.
- Communalism, in the Indian context, is most commonly perceived-form as the phenomenon of religious differences between groups that often leads to tension and even rioting between them.
- In its not so violent manifestation, communalism amounts to discrimination against a religious group in matters such as employment or education.
- In India, communalism arises when religion is used as a marker to highlight socio-economic disequilibrium between communities and as a force multiplier to demand concessions.
- Communalism as “political trade in religion”. It is an ideology on which communal politics is based. And communal violence are conjectural consequences of communal ideology.
- Communalism essentially leads to violence as it is based on mutual religious hatred. This phenomenon leads to a distinction between a communal organization and a religious organization.
|The report of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, headed by former Chief Justice of India Rangnath Mishra, says that 10% should be reserved for Muslims and 5% for other minorities in central and state government jobs in all cadre and grades.|
- Communalism is an ideology that, in order to unify the community, suppresses distinctions within the community and emphasizes the essential unity of the community against other communities.
- In this way, it promotes belief in orthodox tenets and principles, intolerance, and hatredof other religions and thus, divides the society.
- In western countries, it refers to a feeling of ‘community’. Whereas in India, it is understood in a negative sense i.e. a community is put against one or more communities.
- There are both positive as well as negative aspects of communalism. It disintegrates social fabric and disturbs peace and integrity. To speak in its positive sense, a community for the other community, have a feeling of unity, to achieve the objective. In other words, it may be called “the group solidarity”
- A communalised atmosphere is the one where there exists a deep-seated animosity and suspicion among communities
|ELEMENTS OF COMMUNALISM|
Communalism or communal ideology consists of three basic elements or stages in following the other:
- Mild Stage: It is the belief that people who follow the same religion have common secular interests i.e. common political, social, and cultural interests.
- Moderate Stage: In a multi-religious society like India, the secular interests of followers of one religion are dissimilar and divergent from the interests of the followers of another religion.
- Extreme Stage: Interests of different religious communities are seen to be mutually incompatible, antagonistic, and hostile.
|FEATURES OF COMMUNALISM|
- It is a multifaceted process based on orthodoxy and intolerance.
- It also propagates intense dislike of other religions.
- It provides fertile ground for the emergence of mutual distrust and disharmony amongst the communities
- It stands for the elimination of other religions and their values.
- It adopts extremist tactics including the use of violence against other people.
- Communalism leads to abuse of power. It seeks to emphasize the social and religious norms of the community on the other communities by including force, fraud, economic and other allurements, and even assistance from foreign powers.
- It is exclusive in outlook; a communalist considers his own religion to be superior to other religions.
- Communalism treats some citizens not as citizens but as a member of some specific religious community.
|CAUSE OF COMMUNALISM IN INDIA|
Historical factors –
- British historians projected ancient India as being ruled by Hindus and the Medieval period as the period of Muslim rule when Hindus were exploited and threaten. Some influential Indians too supported this projection.
Political Factors –
- Communalism has flourished in India because the communalist leaders of both Hindu and Muslim communities desire to flourish in the interest of their communities.
- The demand for a separate electorate and the organization of the Muslim League was the practical manifestations of this line of thought.
- The British policy of divide and rule used religion to divide India by giving separate electorates for Muslims and later it was given to Sikhs and Anglo Indians. Other political factors include religion-based politics, the partiality of political leaders towards their communities, etc.
- Ultimately, the partition of the country provided further antagonistic feelings towards each other.
- In India, the politics of opportunism is the biggest cause of communalism driven by the middle/ upper class for secular gains and trusted by the lower sections that identify with the cause.
Economic Factor –
- Due to educational backwardness, people have not been represented sufficiently in the public service, industry, and trade, etc. This causes the feeling of relative deprivation and such feelings contain the seeds of communalism.
- Non-expansion of the economy, competitive market, non-absorption of workers is contributing factors.
- A prominent reason why ‘divide and rule’ policy became prominent was that the Muslim middle class had lagged behind the Hindus in terms of education, which contributed to their low representation in government jobs. Due to the lack of enough economic opportunities at that time, a government job was highly coveted by the middle classes.
- The demand for a separate nation of Pakistan got the favor due to marked inequalities in socio–economic indicators including representation in the seats of power.
- The Mappila Rebellion, the first so-called communal clash, was also more of a proletarian strike against the landed gentry than a communal riot. It so happened that the landed gentry were Hindus and the peasants were Muslims.
- Ghettoization and the refugee problem are the other dimension of communalism induced violence.
Social Factors –
- Issues like beef consumption, Hindi/Urdu imposition, conversion efforts by religious groups, etc., further created a wedge between the Hindus and Muslims.
- Social institutions, customs, and practices of Hindus and Muslims are so divergent that they think themselves to be two distinct communities that further aids communism in India.
Psychological Factors –
- The lack of interpersonal trust and mutual understanding between two communities often result in the perception of threat, harassment, fear, and danger in one community against the members of the other community, which in turn leads to fighting, hatred, and anger-phobia.
Role of Media –
- It is often accused of sensationalism and disseminates rumours as “news” which sometimes resulted in further tension and riots between two rival religious groups.
- Lots of movies have been pictured on the above-mentioned communal violence, which can give us understanding about the damages and harm, done by these violence- “Bombay” & “Black Friday” based on 1992 attacks. “Train to Pakistan” based on the novel of Khuswant singh about partition of India, 1947.
- “Gandhi” is portrayal of Direct Action Day and partition of India.
- “Hawayein” based of Sikh riots (1984) and “Machis” about Punjab terrorism.
- It has also emerged as a powerful medium to spread messages relating to communal tension or riot in any part of the country.
|CONSEQUENCES OF COMMUNALISM|
- Voters generally vote on communal lines. After getting elected, the representatives try to safeguard the interests of their community and ignore national interests. These conditions hinder the progress of democracy in the country.
- It is also a threat to Indian constitutional values, which promotes secularism and religious tolerance. In that case, citizens don’t fulfill their fundamental duties towards the nation.
- It becomes a threat to the unity and integrity of the nation as a whole. It promotes only the feeling of hatred in all directions, dividing society into communal lines.
- Communal activities occurring frequently do harm the human resource and economy of the country and act as a barrier in the development of the nation.
- The investment attitude towards the country from foreign investors would be cautious; they tend to avoid the countries with a highly communal country, for not take the risk of end up losing their investment.
- The flow of labor from productive activities is diverted to unproductive activities; there is massive destruction of public properties to spread the ideology.
- It causes hatred among different religious sections in society and disrupts the peaceful social fabric of our society.
- A sudden increase in violence against any particular community causes mass exodus and stampede which in turn kills any number of people. For example, this was seen in the case of Bangalore in 2012, with respect to people from North-eastern states, which was stimulated by a rumour.
- With mass killings, the real sufferers are the poor, who lose their house, their near and dear ones, their lives, their livelihood, etc. It violates human rights from all directions. Sometimes children lose their parents and will become orphans for a lifetime.
- Ancient India was united and no such communal feelings were there. People lived peacefully together; there was acceptance for each other’s culture and tradition.
- For example, Ashoka followed religious tolerance and focused mainly on Dhamma.
- In the Medieval period, there are examples such as- Akbar, who was the epitome of secular practices and believed in propagating such values by abolishing the Jizya tax and starting of Din-I- ilahi and Ibadat Khana.
- However, barring few sectarian rulers like Aurangzeb, who was least tolerant for other religious practices and performed practices like- imposing taxes on religious practices of other community, destructing temples, forced conversions, killing of Sikh guru, etc. were instrumental in deepening and establishing the feeling of communal differences in India.
- But these incidents were not common, as a huge majority of Indians were rural and were aloof from such influences and so people coexisted peacefully. Overall, the Hindus and Muslims in those days had common economic and political interests.
- Communal ideology in a person, party, or movement went through the mentioned three stages and two phases (Liberal and Extremist) during the Indian National Movement and ultimately resulted in the bifurcation of India and creation of Pakistan.
- Along with the rise of nationalism, communalism too made its appearance around the end of the nineteenth century and posed the biggest threat to the unity of the Indian people and the national movement.
- Roots of this were led in the latter part of the 19th century with Hindu revivalist movements like the Shuddhi movement of Arya Samaj and Cow protection riots of 1892.
- On the other hand, movements like the Faraizi movement started Haji Shariatullah in Bengal to bring the Bengali Muslims back on the true path of Islam, was one of the religious reform movement which had bearing on communalism in the 19th century.
- Later people like Syed Ahmed Khan, who despite having a scientific and rational approach, projected Indian Muslims as a separate community (qaum) having interest different from others.
- Post-1857 revolt, the British preferred Hindus over Muslims in the matters of employment, education, etc.
- Muslim intellectuals too realized that Muslims lagged behind their Hindu counterparts in terms of education, government jobs, etc.
- Eventually, Syed Ahmed Khan opposed the functioning of the Indian National Congress and deemed it a pro- Hindu party, which was against Muslim interests.
- The prominent Muslims like Aga Khan, Nawab Moshin-ul-Mulk, founded the All India Muslim League, to consolidate Muslim interests. One of its major objectives was to keep emerging intelligentsia among Muslims from joining the Congress.
- Communalism in India got its initial start in the 1880s when Syed Ahmed Khan opposed the national movement, initiated by the Indian National Congress.
- Simultaneously, Hindu communalism was also being born. They declared Urdu to be the language of the Muslims and Hindi of Hindus. Further, anti-cow slaughter propagation was undertaken in the 1890s and it was primarily directed against Muslims.
- Eventually, organizations like the Punjab Hindu Sabha (1909), All India Hindu Mahasabha (1st session in 1915), were founded.
- Revivalist movements like Arya Samaj, Shuddhi Movement (among Hindus), Wahabi Movement, Tanzeem and Tabligh movements (among Muslims), etc. gave further impetus to communalist tendencies.
- This phase saw eventual communalization of leaders like Syed Ahmed Khan, Lala Lajpat Rai, M.A. Jinnah, Madan Mohan Malviya, etc.
- The British gave momentum to the communalist divide through their administrative decisions and policies such as the division of Bengal, Morley- Minto reforms (1909), Communal Award (1932), etc.
- It demanded a separate nation, based on fear and hatred. There was a tendency to use violence of language, deed, and behaviour. For instance, Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha after 1937.
- Communalism acquired a popular base among urban lower-middle-class groups and mass movements around aggressive, extremist communal politics emerged.
- Communalism also became the only political recourse of colonial authorities and their policy of divide and rule.
- During the period, A. Jinnah declared that ‘Muslims should organize themselves, stand united and should press every reasonable point for the protection of their community.’
- He eventually stated that Muslims would be suppressed under the Hindu dominated Congress after the British left India and thus, the only recourse would be a separate state for Muslimse. creation of Pakistan.
- Hindu communalism too did not lag behind. The Hindu Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), began propagating extreme communalism. They demanded that the non-Hindu groups of India adopt the Hindu culture and language and hold the Hindu religion in reverence. They too espoused that Hindus and Muslims are two separate social and political entities with opposing interests.
- Colonialism is perceived as the prominent factor for the emergence of communalism in India. However, overthrowing colonial rule proved to be only a necessary condition for fighting communalism, not sufficient.
- Even post-independence, communalism persisted and has been the biggest threat to the secular fabric of our nation.
- Most communal riots prior to 1947 were rooted in the policy of British colonial rulers. But after the partition, a section of the Indian elite of both sections are also blamed for the problem.
- Communal problems post-independence has been caused many factors, some of which are:
- The class division of society and the backwardness of our economy resulted in an unequal and unbalanced economy.
- It is the upper classes of the less developed communities that have enjoyed the fruits of limited growth and have hence enjoyed the political power.
- In order to draw support from their own communities, these leaders have always encouraged communal feelings to strengthen their political support.
- Improper cultural synthesis
- Perceived or relative deprivation
- Regional or social imbalance in development
- Political mobilization in the age of democracy has led to the consolidation of communal sentiments.
|COMMUNAL VIOLENCE IN INDIA|
Partition of India,1947
- The manifestations of communal killings and disturbances resulted in the Calcutta killings (1946) in which thousands lost their lives within a span of five days, the butchery of Hindus at Noakhali in Bengal and Muslims in Bihar, the carnage of partition riots in various parts of India and the assassination of Gandhiji by a Hindu fanatic.
- Communalism also resulted in the division of India and the creation of Pakistan.
- After partition, millions of the population were forced to move from both sides of the border. Hindus in Pakistan and Muslims in India were killed in masses, women were raped, and many children lost their parents. There was hatred everywhere, violence didn’t see anything except bloodshed.
- Later, it turned into the problem of refugees and their rehabilitation became one of the biggest challenges for independent India.
Anti-Sikh riots, 1984:
- This is one of the bloodsheds in India, where Sikhs in large numbers were massacred by the anti- Sikh mob.
- This massacre took place in response to the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by his own Sikh body Guard in response to her actions authorizing the military operation.
Operation Blue Star:
- It is a code name given to an Indian Military Operation to remove the separatists who were hidden inside the Golden Temple at Amritsar on 5th June 1984.
- The operation was ordered by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, primarily to take control of the Harmandir Sahib Complex in Amritsar (popularly known as the Golden Temple).
- The Indian military entered into the premises of the temple to drive out the Sikh extremist religious leader, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his armed followers.
Issue of Kashmiri Hindu pundits (1989):
- Kashmir is known as the heaven of India and was known for its Kashmiryat, i.e. the reflection of love, peace and harmony through brotherhood and unity of Hindu, Muslims and other communities living together.
- Spread of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism in Kashmir valley led to mass killing and a large-scale exodus of Kashmiri pundits during 1989- 90. The region continues to be threatened by communal violence.
Babri masjid demolition in Ayodhya, 1992:
- In December 1992, a large crowd of Hindu Kar Sevaks demolished the 16th-century Babri masjid (mosque) in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh claiming the site to be Ram Janma-bhoomi (birthplace of Ram).
- This led to months of inter-communal rioting between the Hindus and Muslims resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people.
Godhra Riots 2002:
- The Gujarat riot was caused by a fire incident in a train in which 58 Hindus were killed while they were returning from Ayodhya.
- According to official figures, the riots resulted in the deaths of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus. There were instances of rape, children being burned alive, and widespread looting and destruction of property.
Assam violence (2012):
- There were frequent clashes between the Bodos and Bengali speaking Muslims due to increased competition for livelihood, land, and political power.
- In 2012, one such outbreak escalated into a riot in Kokrajhar, when unidentified miscreants killed four Bodo youths at Joypur.
- This was followed by retaliatory attacks on local Muslims killing two and injuring several of them. Almost 80 people were killed, most of whom were Bengali Muslims and some Bodos. Approximately, 400,000 people were displaced to makeshift camps.
Muzaffarnagar Riots (2013):
- The clashes between the Hindu Jats and Muslim communities in Muzaffarnagar, UP resulted in at least 62 deaths, injured 93 people, and left more than 50,000 displaced.
- The riot has been described as “the worst violence in Uttar Pradesh in recent history”, with the army being deployed in the state for the first time in the last 20 years.
- International Religious Freedom Report 2013 (USA) has slammed the Uttar Pradesh government for not taking effective steps to control communal violence and intolerance.
- Uttar Pradesh has seen the frequent occurrences of communal riots. For Example, The Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013
|CURRENT ISSUES REGARDING COMMUNALISM|
Currently, a manifestation of communalism in India can be witnessed in several forms. These include:
Hadiya case 2017:
- A 24-year-old Hindu woman, Akhila, who converted to Islam and took a new name, Hadiya was at the center of the ‘love jihad’ controversy.
- While she alleged that she converted to Islam and chose to marry her husband out of choice, her father filed a Habeas Corpus petition and claimed that she was forced to convert to Islam and was targeted as a recruit of ISIS.
- The Kerala High Court annulled her marriage, sent her to her parents’ home, and observed that “she was a weak and vulnerable girl capable of being exploited.”
- However, the Supreme Court protected her freedom to choose her religion and freedom of movement and asked her to return to college to continue her studies.
Beef consumption and ensuing deaths
- The issue of beef consumption and transportation has been a contentious issue in India and has triggered communal outbreaks in various parts of the country.
- Muslims were the target of 51% of violence cantered on bovine issues over nearly eight years (2010 to 2017) and comprised 86% of 28 Indians killed in 63 incidents, according to India-Spend content analysis.
Ghar Wapsi programs:
- It is a series of religious conversion activities, facilitated by Indian Hindu organizations such as the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), to facilitate the conversion of non-Hindus to Hinduism.
- While the organizing groups claimed that people voluntarily came forward to convert to Hinduism, some participants claimed that they were forced to do so.
Religious fundamentalism among youth:
- It has been deemed as a major challenge among the youth. There is an on-going threat of radicalization among Kashmiri youth, which can give an impetus to already existing separatist tendencies.
- Further, the youth have fallen prey to fundamentalist tendencies of terrorist groups like ISIS as much Indian radicalized youth have joined the group.
- The Minister of Home Affairs (MHA) estimates that 75 Indians have joined ISIS.
- However, the reach of the terrorist organization is spreading in India, especially through the medium of social media.
Delhi riot 2020 or North East Delhi riots
- New Delhi witnessed one of the worst communal violence in the history of the national capital.
- The premise of the New Delhi 2020 riots is based on growing animosity and destabilisation of communal harmony in the background of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
|STEPS TO CHECK THE GROWTH OF COMMUNALISM|
- Political communism should be avoided as directed by the Supreme Court’s directives.
- Identification and mapping of riot prone areas. For Example, the Delhi police used drones to monitor to maintain vigil during communal festivals.
- Media, movies, and other cultural platforms can be influential in promoting peace and harmony.
- Social Media should be monitored for violent and repulsive content and taken off immediately.
- Religious leaders and preachers should promote rational and practical things through religion promoting peace and security.
- Children in schools must be taught through textbooks and pamphlets to maintain brotherhood and respect for all religions.
- Creating awareness in the society about the ill effects of communism through mass media.
- Poverty is one of the major factors for communal violence. Poverty alleviation measures are thus important for promoting communal harmony.
- Eradicating the problem of unemployment among the youths, illiteracy, and poverty and that too with honesty and without any discrimination. There is a great need to work towards eradicating the problem of unemployment among the youths, illiteracy and poverty and that too with honesty and without any discrimination
- Reducing the educational and economic backwardness of minorities like Muslims. This can uplift their socio-economic status and reduce their deprivation compared to Hindus
- The problem of communalism in India is grave and can have far-reaching consequences. Thus, persuasive as well as punitive measures are required to curb its spread.
- Building solidarity and assimilation of various religious groups at different levels in society- workplace, neighbourhood etc. by fostering a secular culture eg. celebrating each other’s religious festivals.
- Emphasis on value-oriented education with a focus on the values of peace, non-violence, compassion, secularism, and humanism as well as developing scientific temper (enshrined as a fundamental duty) and rationalism as core values in children both in schools and colleges/universities, can prove vital in preventing communal feelings.
- Swift and prompt response to radicalization by a militant group on social media through police action, counselling sessions for those radicalized especially adolescents etc.
- There is a need to reform in the present criminal justice system (Mall math Committee recommended), speedy trials and adequate compensation to the victims may act as a deterrent.
- Ensuring that political parties refrain from using religion, religious ideologies in order to garner votes through strict vigilance by institutional mechanisms such as the Election Commission, media, civil society, etc.
- Instances of an inter-religious marriage of two consenting adults should not be construed as “love jihad issue” and highlighted in the media. Thus, media persons should be sensitized regarding the issue.
- The pluralistic settlement where members of different communities live together should be encouraged by removing existing barriers as religious segregation strengthens communal identities and reinforces negative stereotypes of other religious groups.
- Sachar Committee report on the status of Indian Muslims recommended the creation of an Equal Opportunities Commission to deal with complaints of intolerance and exclusion.
- The government should criminalize the act of mob violence. Manipur became the first to pass a remarkable law against lynching, late last year. The precedent should be followed in other states too. Mobs leading communal riots should be controlled and strict action should be taken against them as a combative measure.
- Stern law should be framed by the Parliament against communal violence. The weaknesses of laws resulted in the escape of politicians and other influential persons openly indulged in inciting communal violence.
- The CBI or a special investigative body should investigate communal riots within a stipulated time frame.
- Further, special courts should hear such cases for quick delivery of justice to victims.
- There is a need for minority welfare schemes to be launched and implemented efficiently by the administration to address the challenges and various forms of discrimination faced by them in jobs, housing, and daily life.
- Increase in the representation of minority communities and weaker sections in all wings of law-enforcement, training of forces in human rights, especially in the use of firearms in accordance with the UN code of conduct.
- Uniform Civil Code should be formulated and implemented with the consensus of all religious communities so that there is uniformity in personal laws.
- Secular education should be taught in all educational institutions, which will lead to the development of harmony and co-operation among members of different communities.
- History education should be de-communalized as the present categorization of Indian history into ancient, medieval, and modern has contributed to communal thinking as it has effectively divided history into the Hindu period, Muslim period, and Christian period respectively. This has given rise to notions that India was a Hindu country which was ‘invaded’ by Muslims and Christians.
- Increased employment opportunities for minorities can lead to a decrease in communal discord.
- Religious heads can play an important role in the dissemination of ideas of the diversity of religion, ideas, etc. which can help in spreading peace among different communities.
- The government should not ban minority practices to appease the majority group. E.g. the state should not show a preference for vegetarianism.
- Media, movies, and other influences should be used in promoting religious harmony and peace.
- The solution of such problems cannot be one or two steps by government. Apart from legislative support, administrative efficiency and alertness with the help of modern tools and technology, the major onus lies on the citizens themselves by avoiding communal violence.
Mahatma Gandhi was also very much against religious conversions. Long back he had written, ‘Every nation considers its own faith to be as good as that of any other. Certainly, the great faiths held by the people of India are adequate for her people. India stands in no need of conversion from one faith to another’. As early as in 19th Jan, 1928, Gandhiji wrote in Young India that we should not even secretly pray that anyone should be converted, ‘but our utmost prayer should be that a Hindu should be a better Hindu a Musalman a better Musalman and a Christian a better Christian
Thus, in order to get rid of the problem of communalism in India, there is a need of collective efforts. All will have to discharge their duties. If we do so, definitely harmony will prevail. Everybody will prosper. This must be done; this was the dream of Mahatma Gandhi for a free India’.
|PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTIONS|
- ‘Communalism arises either due to power struggle or relative deprivation.’ Argue by giving suitable illustrations. (2018) – 15 Marks
- Distinguish between religiousness/religiosity and communalism giving one example of how the former has got transformed into the latter in independent India. (2017) – 15 Marks
- Along with the rise of nationalism, communalism too made its appearance around the end of the nineteenth century. Discuss
- Critically examine various factors that aid communalism in India with recent relevant examples from Indian Society.
- Communal attacks, the cancer of communalism affect the body of the Indian Nation. Comment.