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GS I - UPSC- MAIN - COMMUNALISM

Mon, 12 Nov, 2018

COMMUNALISM

Questins in mains:

Q 1 .Distinguish between religiousness/religiosity and communalism giving one example of how the former has got transformed into the latter in independent India.                               ( 15 marks,  250 words,  GS 1-2017)
Q 2 .‘Communalism arises either due to power struggle or relative deprivation.’ Argue by giving suitable illustrations.(15 marks, 250 words,  GS 1-2018)

 COMMUNALISM

Communalism is a serious threat to the integrity and economic development of the countries, which have diverse religions, communities and linguistic groups. It is an infectious disease and when its germs, sting the people of one community, it gets enraged and sheds the blood of the other. Such germs exist largely in regions, where different religious, caste, class, groups, fear the continuity of their specific social, religious and regional identity. This results in increasing mistrust among them.

India is a secular nation where several religions co-existed. The Constitution asks each citizen to be tolerant of other religions. However despite the provisions of the Indian Constitution to protect the interests of people belonging to all religions, communalism has often endangered peace and harmony of our country in several instances in the past.

Communalism actually stems from religious fundamentalism that makes one believe that one’s own religion is the only true faith. Communalism itself is the ideology of a social , political or a religious group that their religion and practices are superior to that of other groups. Religion is a personal and sensitive issue for most people. Therefore any hint of antagonism or a sign of disrespect towards one’s religion immediately triggers hatred and violence. Communalism is divisive in that it stresses the significance of one religion over the others.

While effectively the preaching and values of all religions do not differ, it is the conflict of interests and desire for dominance that provokes hostility. It has also been observed on various occasions that religious leaders arouse fanatic behaviour among followers through fundamentalist speeches and political leaders do the same to ensure themselves of a vote bank for attaining power.

Historically communal tensions between Hindus and Muslims have occurred regularly. The seeds of this conflict lay in the Partition and formation of Pakistan. A case in point is the Ram Mandir – Babri- Masjid issue that was responsible for violent communal clashes across the nation and resulted in loss of innocent lives and property. Religious fundamentalism and fanaticism have left such wounds on the psyche of the people that it has led to building of stereo types. Muslims are viewed\ suspiciously and often experience difficulties in assimilation. The New York Twin-Tower terror event has brought in it’s wake other issues like racial profiling at airports which is creating a greater sense of alienation in the Islamic community.

In recent times communal strife has also spread to rural areas of the country implying prejudices can exist anywhere.

The word communal is derived from the word ‘commune’, striking the meaning of a feeling of oneness or consciousness or friendliness. But this word has been used in the Indian context in a worst derogatory sense. In India, the word “communal” means mistrust, hatred, rivalry etc. among the people of different religions. It is characterized by tension or conflict between culturally distinct, but geographically mixed communities. 

The term communalism has thus negative as well as positive connotations. In the right sense of the term, a religious person cannot be a communalist and a communalist, cannot be a religious, because every religion of the world preaches love, tolerance, mutual respect, and welfare of humanity. No doubt true dedication towards one’s own religion does not generate mistrust or hatred towards other religions, but when the religious leaders, incite the feelings of its orthodox, illiterate and gullible devotees, such heinous tactics of the selfish leaders and resultant charged feelings, of the followers, gain the terminology of communalism.

There are numerous definitions of communalism, which have emerged from different political and ideological orientations. Scholars have elaborated this concept from socio-economic, cultural, political and historical angles. The essence of their views conveys that communalism is a multi-faceted phenomenon, in which each factor has a close relationship with the other. India has a variety of cultures and religions, with conceptual differences. These differences have created antagonism and distrust among them.

The burden of the argument is that in India, a religious community, is an economic as well as political community at the same time. This complex phenomenon of communalism, dominates Indian political discourse. On the basis of false community introduction consciousness, elites incite the people to wage movements, to avail more resources and encourage separate identity on communal lines.

So the communal violence is linked to communal ideology. Communal ideology can prevail even without violence, but communal violence cannot exist without communal ideology. Therefore communalism is above all a communal ideology.

So the question arise what is communal ideology?

 COMMUNAL IDEOLOGY:

A communal ideology consist of three element one succeeding the other.

 FIRST Stage- Mild communalism

People following the same religion have similar interests

The first stage is beginning of communal ideology.

 First of all according to communal ideology people who follow the same religion having common secular interest, that is people of same religion have not only common religious belief, but also have common political, economic, social and cultural interest. This is the first bedrock of communal ideology. From this arise the notion of a religious community for secular interest. A person who talk about the Hindu community or Muslim community or the interests of the Muslim community or the Hindu community is already taking the first step toward communalism whether he know it or not.

 SECOND Stage- Liberal communalism or Moderate communalism

 Dissimilarity of interests between people of different religions

 The second step is taken when in a multi-religious society the secular interests that are economic, social, political and cultural interests, of the followers of one religion are different from some of the interests of the followers of another religion. E.g. the secular interests of Hindu are different from the interests of Muslim one has taken the second step toward communalism.

THIRD Stage- Extreme communalism

Interests of people following different religions are antagonistic to each other, based on fear and hatred of other religions.

 The third step is taken when not only the interests of the followers of different “communities” different but are hostile to each other, that is, what is economically, politically, socially or culturally in interests of Hindu is not so in the interests of Muslim, that the two cannot have common economic, social, political, interests that there secular interests are bound to be oppose each other. This last step brings communalism to the stage of what would be describe as extreme communalism.

 So the communal violence is only a concrete conjectural manifestation of the communalization of society and politics. Communal ideology leads to politic and psychology differentiation, distance and competition along religious line. Sooner or later it lead to mutual fear and hatred and ultimately to violence. Once communalism segments politics along religious line, violent conflict became a matter of time. Behind every riot a strong collective communal mentality.

 

FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GROWTH OF COMMUNALISM IN INDIA:

 The ghost of communalism has not emerged suddenly or developed by chance.

Tracing the roots of communal violence has been a controversial problem. According to some scholars the roots of communalism lay in failure of Hindu and Muslim to fuse their differences and constitute one society. Hewer exponent of this theory insist that the role of divisive forces in Indian society should not be exaggerated. India had powerful cohesive and unifying elements which often held various socio-cultural communities together.

  1. Communalism as Basis of Politics in Pre independent India:

Slow pace of transition from a feudal structure to a modern set-up in pre independence era results in consolidation of religion/caste-based identities.

Previous Feudal structure (kingdoms)- Favouritism /Reward and Succession

            New Colonial/Modern society -Mobilization/Competition

In a limited job market, competition based on religion/caste communal politics is handy to         

(a) hide economic frustrations,

(b) hide the real sources of misery, and

(c) mask the relationship between exploiters and the exploited.

Sometimes religious/caste distinctions coincide with economic distinctions, e.g., the exploiting sections (landlord, moneylender and merchant) were upper- caste Hindu and the exploited are poor peasants, landless labour, etc., were low-caste or Muslims.

Bengal and Kerala (Moplah): Hindu landlords/Muslim poor peasants

Punjab: Muslim landlords and Hindu peasant elite used their religious identity to suppress the exploited/oppressed sections of society.

 Common Features of Hindu Communalism and Muslim Communalism:

  • Came from declining sections of society, landlords and kings
  • No struggle against British; subtly encouraged by British
  • Both denigrated and despised Congress(Criticized)
  • Supported only by the elites of the communities
  • Believed that Hindu and Muslims are separate nations
  • Mutual hatred for each other
  • Strengthened each other through their politics
  • Spread fear against each other
  • Believed in hierarchy of caste and gender (feudal value system)
  • Opposed to democratic values
  • Their politics consolidated the colonialists

 Jinnah : Non religions and communal

Gandhi and Abul Kalam Azad : Deeply religious and non-communal

Nehru and Bhagat Singh : Atheists and noncommunal

Muslim Communalism : Muslim League

Hindu Communalism : Hindu Mahasabha, RSS, partly also through Congress

  1. Un-historical Approach :

The British use of Indian history to degenerate Indian national character and to prove Indians unfitness for independence and democracy produced another distortion in Indian Historgraphy and politic. The Indian counter this unscientific and unhistorical approach with an unhistorical approach of their own. They began to glorify the past. Thus gradually developed several myths, each one of which weakened healthy, secular nationalism and gave an opening to communalism. The first of these myth is the belief that Indian society and culture-Indian civilization-had reached a high watermark, the Golden Age, in ancient India, from which high watermark it gradually sided downward during the medieval period branded the period of decadence and of  foreign rule‟ and continued to slide down till the revivalist movement made partial recovery but that real task of reviving the past glory and civilization still remains. The blaming this decay of “Islam” or “Muslim” rule and the alien west, was easily taken. These create hostility between these two religious communities.

  1. Hero myth :

 All of the major heroes, Rana Pratap, Shivaji, and Guru Gobind Sing, belonged to medieval India and had fought against Mughal authority- have done as much to undermine secularism and national integration as any other ideological factor. These hero myths proved the case for the two nation theory or basic communal approach. By what definition are they national heroes and their struggle a national struggle? Because they were fighting against foreigner? How were the Mughals foreigners? Because they were Muslim. What was the uniting principle in the nationalism of Rana Pratap, Shivaji and Guru Gobin Sing? Their being Hindu or non-Muslim thus the hero myths spontaneously generated communalism.

  1. Divide and Rule Policy of the British:

The British rulers adopted the policy of 'Divide and Rule' in order to establish their supremacy in it’s colonies and expand it’s power and to strengthen their roots while living in India. They encouraged the setting up of communal organisations having extremist religious tendencies. They divided the people of various communities of India as part of their political policy of “divide and rule” and spread the feeling of distrust among them and hence they sowed the seeds of communalism in India. It largely changed the whole political landscape of India.

  1. Socio-economic conditions:

Unfortunately after partition, the socio-economic conditions in the country, continued to favour the breeding of communalism. The Indian economy has grown at less than the required rate. Such a critical situation gives birth to the new problems, like

-unemployment,

-inequality, as well as

-a large gap in the distribution of wealth.

The whole situation breeds frustration and social anxiety, among the people.

  1. Political Organisations, Religious organisations and Communalization of politics (Communalism as Basis of Politics in post-independence era)-

The politicians too resorted to the British policy of exploiting the communal situation. Now politics is closely mingled with a sort of communalism and naturally, it has poisoned the national life in various ways. The tragedy of the recent Indian politics is that the people are more religious than communal, while the political leaders are more communal than religious. Some political parties of India are too much communal in nature. They are least concerned with the fundamentals of our constitutional set up. The political parties are using religion as stepping stone for political power. Similarly the religious organizations, utilize it for political clout or to preserve hold on their vote bank. The places of worship are being converted into centres of political activities. The party tickets in elections are ensued, keeping in view the particular caste, creed, language or religious group, so as to enhance the chances of victory. It is this process, that actually prepares the ground for communalization of politics. This intermixture of religion and politics has encouraged the concept of communal politics in Indian political infrastructure. Ramjanmabhumi-Babri Masjid dispute is the major example of this fact.  The concept of communalism in India, generally, has been used to explain the confrontation between the Hindus and the Muslims, as they are the major religious groups and their numbers really matter in the elections. There had been many conflicts and riots emanating from Hindu-Muslim communalism, in the post-independent era. Prominent among the riots are Jabalpur (1961), Meerut (1968), Ahmedabad (1969), Gujarat (2002) and the major issue of Babri Masjid Ramjanmabhumi, which is under study, is the matter of the same kind.

  1. Indifferent Government:

When the government does not take proper action at the proper time, communalism spreads among the subjects. Sometimes the government favours on the religion and leave others which create differences.

  1. Ineffective Handling of Communal Riots:

Sometimes the state governments have been proved ineffective to curb the communal riots in their respective states. It also results in spreading the communalism. As the result of the above factors, communalism is raising its ugly face in India after the Independence and also creating great problems even in the working of Indian political system.

  1. Flexibility in religion’s civil code:

There is a lack of a uniform civil code. To assure itself of votes and return to power the government affords special provisions to certain religious communities to follow their own code while other smaller communities are not allowed the freedom to follow their own personal laws and may feel discriminated against.

    10. Rise of communal organisations:

Communal organizations established on the pretext of propagating and promoting religion socially through cultural activities have instead worsened the problem of communal politics.

    11. Religious fundamentalism:

 Some religious leaders followed ardently by herds of devotees use their influence through inflammatory speeches to misguide the masses. Especially the ignorant masses get caught up in religious fevor and are willing to act violently.

    12. Conversions:

Religious conversions are a sensitive issue in India. It is often undertaken by religious organizations on the promise of food, shelter.etc. to the poor and viewed suspiciously by everyone.

     13. Politicization of local problems:

Local issues or problems involving different communities, which can be resolved by the local authorities, are sometimes magnified and given political dimensions to are use communalistic passions and often lead to riots. Ex. Malegaon and Bhiwandi.

    14. Law and Order:

The administration may fail to take care of minor disputes that could flare up into a major communal clash. There may be several anti-social elements who in the name of religion may engage activities such as drug-peddling, smuggling , trafficking, robberies, murder and so on. Their activities need to be curbed and they need to be brought to book to maintain social balance.

   15. External threats:

There exist many foreign forces which train extremists and supply them with modern weapons to undertake terrorist activities to fuel communal unrest in the nation.

 

STEPS/MEASURES TO COMBAT COMMUNAL VIOLENCE:

 If the communalism is an ideology, it cannot be suppressed by force. No ideology can be suppressed by force. Ideology has to be fought at the level of ideas.

 Ideological struggle against communalism:

 Ideological struggle against communalism does not at all mean a struggle against religion, religiosity. Communalism is neither inspired by religion nor is religion an object of communal politic. Religion is personal affair. Even though the communalist bases his politic on religious differences, uses religious identity as an organizing principle and in mass phase of communalism uses religion to mobilize the masses.

The ideological struggle against communalism above all mean bringing home to people, masses and intellectual, the falsity of communal assumption, of communal logic, of communal answer; of bringing home to people that what the communalist projects

‟ problem are not the real problem and what the communalist say is the answer is not the real answer”

this is the long haul which we have got to undertake, of going to the people and explaining to them with the help of history, with the help of sociology, with the help of everyday life, with the help of our social struggle.

  1. Educating the Masses with Right type of ideas:

The role of education and the press is crucial. Paradoxically, the spread of literacy can also have negative consequences in thus respect. In simple terms literacy is supposed to be the panacea for all social ills; and spread of literacy is seen as of the highest value. It is of course of highest value and literacy is one of the three or four basic developments which all society must achieve. But in this development there also inheres a great danger. The illiterate Russian produce Lenin as their leader; the illiterate Indians have produce Gandhi as their leader; and the country with the highest literacy, with the largest number of Ph.Ds has produce Hitler as their leader; therefore be warned. Literacy makes sense only if it is used to spread the right type of ideas, not if it is used to spread poisonous ideas. The study contents should be devoid of any communal content and partial views about particular religions. It should in fact teach secular principles, appreciation and respect for all religions. Schools and higher educational institutions should use various teaching aids promoting national values and communal harmony. Teachers should be trained to motivate students to conduct community programmes with involvement from their parents, neighbours and others to promote secularism, nationalism, cooperation and tolerance.

  1. Formation of true secular state:

Ideological struggle against the communalism mean, the establishment of the legal secular state and ideology was necessity, because when two or more religion already existed it was useless and worse than useless for the state to seek to impose religious uniformity to do so merely lead to civil war or communal riots and thus weaken the state. So secularism opposed to all form of institutionalized religious domination. It challenges not merely inter- religious but also intra-religious domination. Secular state not only keep separation of state and religion but also refused to be theocratic or any formal, legal alliance with any religion

'Religion and state will be separate. I swear by my religion, I will die for it. But it is my personal affair. The state has nothing to with it. The state will look after your secular welfare, health, communications, foreign relations, currency and so on, but not your or my religion. That is everybody's personal concern.’- Gandhi

  1. Safeguard of constitutional provisions:

All communities must be treated equally. The people belonging to smaller communities should not feel isolated. Instead confidence should be instilled in them so that they feel safe and secure to partake in the growth of the nation.

The remedy of constitutional safeguards to root out the chronic malaise of communalism shall not have desired effect unless it is tackled by society itself.

  1. Government must not follow policy of appeasement:

Efforts should be made by the enlightened citizens to discourage the communal based forces from the social, political and electoral process in order to make these forces irrelevant. They are to be opposed not to be appeased. Communal carnage should be dealt strictly with new strategies.

  1. Spreading the concept Sarva dharma sambhava :

To usher an era of social equity and sarva dharma sambhava the people of India should not mix religion with politics to attain the goal of common brotherhood for the unity and integrity of the nation.

  1. Role of Law and order Administration:

The police have an important role to play in intercepting and diffusing communal riots and flare-ups before it assumes huge proportions. They should act responsibly to combat violence and work with the cooperation of peace committees and members of conflict in communities to resolve tension.

  1. Role of Religious Leaders:

Religious leaders have an important role to play as the preaching is followed by the masses. People look up to their leaders and hence these leaders should teach the importance of communal harmony through their discourses.

  1. Role of Media:

The media should act responsibly and avoid delivering news in a manner that will further encourage violence. Instead the media should identify and expose communal elements. It should create a forum for discussion where information about the ill effects of communal activities.

     10. Role of NGOs:

NGOs should go for large-scale publicity campaigns in media promoting communal harmony and national unity. They should draw public focus on more pressing national problems and educate people about the ill consequences of riots and destruction based on religious intolerance.

    11. Ban on communal political parties:

The political parties having any direct or indirect connections with communal forces should be de-recognized by the government. They should not be allowed to play with the religious sentiments of the public and exploit them for their political gains. This will help in force harmony among various communities.

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