Sunday, 23 September 2018

Essay on Communalism in India

Essay on Communalism in India

Essay on Communalism in India
“I have nothing of the communist in me because of Hinduism in all inclusive.” - Mahatma Gandhi
Communalism is referred in the Western world as a “Theory or system of government in which virtually autonomous local communities are loosely in federation.” Communalism is a political philosophy which proposes that market and money be abolished and that land and enterprises to be placed in the custody of community. But in the Indian sub-continent context communalism has come to be associated with the tensions and clashes between different religious communities in various regions.

Development of communalism as political philosophy has roots in the ethnic and cultural diversity of Africa. It is characterized as people from different ethnic groups or community who do not interact much or at all and this has somewhere acted as hindrance in the economic growth and prosperity of Africa. However communalism in South Asia is used to denote the differences between various religious groups and differences among the people of different community. It is significant socio-economic and political issue in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal etc.

Defining communalism poses a complex problem for historians in contemporary India. On the one hand is the barrier posited by the communal traditions itself which has endeavored with considerable success to reduce the nation to the community. The partition of India and the long history of Hindu Rashtravad (Hindu nationalism) express the formidable success of this tradition. Bipan Chandra points out- “Simply put, communalism is the belief that because a group of people follow a particular religion they have, as a result of social, political and economic interests.” Communism in our country is more like blind loyalty to one's own religious group. It is described as a tool to mobilize people for or against by raising an appeal on communal lines. It is associated with religious fundamentalism and dogmatism.

If we turn the pages of history, we find that ancient India was united without any communal feelings. People lived peacefully together there was acceptance for each other's culture and tradition. For example, Ashoka followed religious tolerance and focused mainly on Dharma. In Medieval period, rulers such as Akbar, was an epitome of secular practices and believed in propagating harmony. Same acceptance for different cultures and traditions was practiced in several kingdoms throughout India, because of which there was peace and concord.

The growth of communalism in India is result of the emergence of modern politics which has its roots in partition of Bengal in 1905 and feature of separate electorate under Government of India Act, 1909. Later, British government also appeased various communities through communal award in 1932, which faced strong resistance from Gandhiji and many others. All these acts were done by the British government to appease Muslims and other communities for their own political needs. This feeling of communalism has deepened since then, fragmenting the Indian society and being a cause of unrest. Communal consciousness arose as a result of the transformation of Indian society under the impact of colonialism and the need to struggle against it.

The growth of communalism increased in later part of 19th century with Hindu revivalist movement like the Shuddhi movement of Arya Samaj and cow protection riots of 1892 and other hand movements like Faraizi movement started by Haji Shariatullah in Bengal to bring the Bengali Muslim back on the truth of Islam. Later people like Syed Ahmed Khan, who despite of having scientific and rational approach, projected Indian Muslim as a separate community quam. This was followed by the setup of Hindu Mahasabha, Muslim League and personality like M.A. Jinnah, M. M. Malviya, and Lala Lajpat Rai after 1920s.

An important feature of colonial India was the emergence of communalism as a force that guided the destiny of India into a bloodbath and inevitable partition of the Indian subcontinent on common lines. Though India was the land of multi religions, creeds and faiths, pre-colonial India was never plagued by the worm of communalism. It was the purposeful colonial policy of divide and rule that laid the seeds of communalism which grew into a huge tree that disturbed the solidarity of the age old mosaic of India and it is still haunting to sap the vitality of the newly won independence.

It was thought that partition of the country would resolve the problem of communal violence in India, and in the post partition period, the people would be able to live without facing the ill effects of the communal violence. However it was a false hope and except the decade of fifty, people could not live in without communal violence. And this was just the beginning; post independence India witnessed even more communal violence- The anti Sikh riots of 1984; the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindu Pundits in 1989; Bhagalpur riots in 1989; Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya in 1992; Gujarat riots in 2002, recently Muzaffar Nagar riots in 2013 and many more.

Communalism or ideology consists of three basic elements or stages, one following the other. Firstly there is a belief that people who follow the same religion have common political, economic, cultural and social interests. Secondly in multi religious society like India, the common interest of the followers of one religion are dissimilar and divergent from the interest of the followers of another religion and thirdly the belief that the interests of the followers of different religions or different communities are seen to be mutually incompatible antagonistic and hostile.

In India throughout the past century communal forces have tried to capture the political centre stage. By various means they have sought to disrupt the unity and integrity of the country, tried to gnaw at the every secular foundations of Indian culture and history. But every time they have failed. Yet the consequences of such thoughts have often been traumatic. The specter of growing communalism is the most threatening issue facing India today. The nation is becoming increasingly intolerant when it comes to communist issues. The lynching of a Muslim man in Jharkhand on the suspicion of carrying beef in his car; lynching of another Muslim man in Bulandshahar, Uttar Pradesh over not divulging the details of a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl eloping these two stories by lynching highlight the Silence of Hindu India.

From time to time the Muslim Fundamentalists have made it an issue of their identity and existence. The Hindu Fundamentalists are also not behind inciting the gullible masses to raise against the Muslims by making them belief that Hindu in Hindustan are being treated as second class citizens.

Furthermore it is not always Hindus or Muslims spreading the communal violence, sometimes other forces operating in the name of religion are responsible. This is evident from the fact of large scale violence that followed after the conviction of a self renowned God man, Gurmeet Ram Rahim in Panchkula. It was almost a war like situation when the godman’s hysterical followers ran amok pelting stones and set vehicles, buildings a fire and created havoc. The mayhem raised numerous questions not only on the current law and order situation in India but also that Communalism becoming a serious issue even at the cost of human life.

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