This article deals with topic titled ‘Communalism.’
Note : This is part of our series on Society for UPSC examination. For more articles , click here.
Definition of Communalism
Allegiance to ones own ethnic/religious group rather than to wider society
Stages of Communalism
Communalism is manifested at three levels
When people belonging to same community believe that they have same secular interest
When people belonging to different communities believe that they have different secular interests
When people believe that they not only have different interests but mutually antagonistc and hostile interests (one community can prosper only at the cost of other community)
Communalism is an ideological tool often used by upper class to mobilise people to achieve their own political goals
6 types of Communalism
Often there is perception in the society that communalism is threat to National Security . But , it is not a threat to national security prima facie. It depends upon type of communalism which is present
When large religious community tries to bring into it’s fold small communities
Eg : Hindu organisation projecting Tribals as Hindus
When religious community makes effort for welfare of the members of that community
Eg : Christian organisations doing welfare work for Christians
When the religious community forbid their members from participating in political affairs
Eg : Bahi Community
When members of the religious communities are made to believe that their interests are mutually antagonist to interests of other religious communities
Eg : Hindu-Muslim community
When based on religious identities , people demand a separate state within the federal framework
Eg : Punjabi Suba
When based on religious identities , people demand secession
Eg : Khalistan
Last three are threat to national integration but first three arent . Hence, we cant say communalism is always threat to national integration.
Characteristics of Communalism
Communalism is an ideological concept.
It is total commitment to a set of beliefs & unwillingness to accept other beliefs
It mostly rests on prejudices.
It close the self and is highly emotional
It causes rivalry and violence among masses.
It is used by the higher class people and elites as an instrument for division and exploitation.
It strikes at the roots of secularism and national integration.
Evolution of Communalism in India
The genesis of communalism in India can be traced back to the British rule
With the emergence of secular education, new educated middle class emerged . But the aspirations of the middle class were not getting satisfied in the absence of adequate economic opportunities. Communal Politics emerged to get largest pie .
Socio-economic classes coincided with religious distinctions. Eg :
Hindu Zamindars vs Muslim peasants in Bengal, Kerala etc
Divide and Rule Policy of Britishers : To counter the growing national movement
However, the overthrow of colonial state was only the necessary condition to fight the menace of communalism but not sufficient condition . There were other forces at play too. Even in post-independence period , Government failed to control communalism.
Causes of Communalism
Failing of Minorities to integrate in Mainstream
Muslims failed to intermix in the national mainstream and insist to sustain separate identity.
Vote Bank Politics
Various religion base parties use Communalism to consolidate their vote banks
Communal way of History writing
British historian like James Mill described ancient period as the Hindu period and medieval period as the Muslim period
If certain religious community is economically weak => feeling of relative deprivation => rise of communalism
Absence of Uniform Code
In absence of Uniform civil code, there is perception that all communities have divergent and contradictory interests.
Hindu groups consider that the Muslims are crusaders , fundamentalists and unpatriotic.
On the other hand, the Muslims believe that they are treated as inferior group in India .
Politics of Appeasement
Political parties try to appease communities for votes. Eg : Shah Bano Case . This promote Communalism
Provocation of Enemy Countries
Eg : Pakistan foster Communal feelings especially in Kashmiri Muslim Youth
Problems in State Machinery to fight Communalism
National human rights commission (NHRC) fights for communal violence related causes . But it’s recommendations are advisory in nature
Various commissions have given suggestions to solve the issue of communal violence. Prominent among them are SACHAR COMMITTEE and RANGANATH MISHRA COMMISSION.
Sachar committee (2010) : set up Equal opportunity commission (EOC)
Ranganath Misra Commission : recommended reservation for minorities
No Special Act dealing with Communal Violence and targetted violence. It was also held in Sajjan Kumar vs State (2018)
Role of police in communal riots is highly controversial. This is further aggravated by large scale concentration of dominant caste in police .
Impact of Communalism
Organisation of Political parties on Communal Basis
Voting on Communal Basis
Large scale riots near elections to polarize votes
Created wide rift among the people
Hampers unity of nation and creates various sub-national feelings
Curbing of Progressive voices . Eg Voices for abolition of Triple Talaq is being opposed
Vandalisation of public property like burning of buses, trains etc
Badly impacts the investors confidence
Ways to eradicate Communalism:
Balanced and job intensive economic development
Equal Opportunities commission should be formed .
Going towards Uniform civil code
Zero Tolerance toward riots .
Avoid communalisation of politics.
Promote Indian ideology of Vasudeva Kutumbakam ie whole world is a family ie universal brotherhood.