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Communalism, in its broadest definition, refers to a strong sense of belonging to one's own community. It is interpreted as an unhealthy connection to one's own faith in Indian popular discourse.

It's an ideology that, in order to unite a community, hides internal divisions and highlights the community's inherent oneness in the face of other communities.

As a result, it promotes orthodox tenets and ideals, as well as intolerance and hatred of other religions, dividing society.

The positive element of communalism is an individual's affection for his or her own community, which includes efforts for the community's social and economic upliftment.

In a pejorative sense, it is an ideology that emphasises a religious group's own identity in respect to other groups, with a tendency to promote its own interests to the detriment of others.

India's religious and cultural diversity is the source of Communalism's political philosophy.

As a political propaganda tactic, it has been used to promote religious and ethnic divisions between communities, resulting in communal animosity and violence. It has now become a tool in the hands of religious fanatics, who at the cost of harmony attempt to gain advantages by creating rifts within the society.

Classification-two broad streams:

  • Liberal: It does not preclude the possibility of mediation and dialogue between groups for the purpose of advancing greater patriotic aims. In this sense, liberal communal ideology promoted dialogue between diverse religious communities in order to form solidarity and advance shared patriotic goals of political independence, economic progress, and poverty eradication.

  • Radical: It is radical in that it limits any chance of negotiated union and emphasises the groups' irreconcilable opposition to one another. It contends that the religious community is a distinct nation that cannot exist within the same state, or more accurately, that the nation's objectives can be realised only when it is associated with a separate territorial unit within its own sovereignty. Their two communities' interests are not just divergent, but also antagonistic.

Divide and Rule- British policy after 1857

The British assumed that Muslims were responsible for the 1857 rebellion and hence began appeasing Hindus. To avert Muslim marginalisation, Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan pledged Muslims' devotion to the British. The British abandoned Hindus in favour of Muslims, believing minorities to be more reliable allies due to underlying societal fears that could be easily used in favour of empire.

To undermine nationalism, they announced the division of Bengal in 1905, backed the foundation of the Muslim League in 1906, and implemented separate electorates in 1909.

In 1915, Savarkar established the Hindu Mahasabha in opposition to the Muslim League. In 1919, all other minorities, such as Sikhs, Parsis, and Anglo Indians, were granted separate electorates, posing a challenge to Indians' unity.

In 1923, Savarkar proposed the concept of Hindutva, which translates as Hindu nationalism, and states that nationalism requires that a person's fatherland and spiritual land be one.

Muhammad Iqbal responded by introducing the concept of Muslim brotherhood. He maintained that it is against Islam for Muslims to live under man-made laws (rather than follow sharia laws). He stated categorically that Islam opposes the concept of geographical country. Muslims are one community that cannot be separated along territorial lines.

After Independence:

Fourth general elections led to the breakdown of the Congress system, the formation of non-Congress governments in eight states and Congress in coalition in nine states. Political competition became tough, of the strengthening of identity politics can be observed. Caste and religion became more prominent. Among the most heinous manifestations of sectarian politics were the communal conflicts in Punjab. Communal violence in Punjab culminated in the tragedy of Operation Blue Star, which resulted in Indira Gandhi's assassination and subsequent anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and other parts of the country.

Since the 1990s, identity politics have become increasingly influential, Manda, Mandir and Masjid have been the idioms of Indian politics since the 1990s. It was a period when the age of coalition politics began at the union level, intensifying political struggle. The memories of the demolition of Babri Masjid are still fresh.

In his book the saffron wave, Thomas Hansen Blom projected the communalization of Indian politics as a result of the bjp's rapid rise. By 1999, the party with only two seats in 1984 could establish a coalition government with the partners.

Rajiv Gandhi's role

To strengthen Congress's position. Rajiv Gandhi pursued a double appeasement approach. To pacify Hindus, the government permitted the inauguration of Ramjanmbhoomi and Shilaniyas pujas. To satisfy Muslims, the government diluted the supreme court's revolutionary ruling in the Shah Bano case.

The BJP's/role Advani's

The BJP felt concerned that Congress had seized control of the mandir agenda. The BJP was left with no choice but to begin the Rath Yatra. Rath Yatra concluded in the demolition of the Babri Mosque, followed by riots in Mumbai, Godara, Gujarat, and Muzaffarnagar.

Factors Contributing to Communal Violence

As a political ideology, communalism is generally described as one which exploits disparities between religions and cultures in order to acquire political power.

As a result of economic inequalities, social divisions, poverty, and unemployment, the general populace is more prone to political manipulation since they feel less secure.

If a town has already had community riots once or twice, the likelihood that it will do so again is higher than in a town that has never experienced communal riots.

Politics of appeasement - Political parties make decisions that encourage communal conflict because of political reasons and their own vested interests.

Economic and Social Isolation of Muslims - Muslims have a sense of relative deprivation as a result of their inability to accept scientific and technical knowledge and, as a result, their lack of representation in government, business, and other sectors.

Communal violence is often sparked by a lack of law and order.

Psychology – The absence of inter-personal trust and mutual understanding between two groups often leads to the feeling of threat, harassment and danger in one community towards members of the other community, which in turn leads to fighting and hatred phobias and fury.

When speculations are passed off as "news" by the media, it can exacerbate tensions and lead to violence between religiously opposed groups.

It has also evolved as an effective means of disseminating information about communal tension or riots in any region of the country via social media.

Contribution of Paul Brass—Communal riots in India, according to Brass, are not spontaneous phenomena. It is incorrect to refer to them as riots. According to him, the country has a well-developed mechanism. Communal riots are carried out in the most professional manner possible. He has argued that community roots assist all political parties by consolidating and polarising their votes. This is why no political party makes a serious attempt to put an end to communal riots. According to him, if the Indian government wishes, communal riots can be effectively managed, but due to a lack of political will, the situation deteriorates.

Way forward

Emphasis on value-oriented education with an emphasis on the values of peace and nonviolence, compassion, secularity and humanism, as well as developing scientific temper (enshrined as an essential duty) and rationalism as core values in children, it may be possible to prevent communal feelings.

India can also take a page out of Hong Kong's book when it comes to countering communalism by establishing a "Race Relation Unit" to promote racial peace and help ethnic minorities integrate. RRU has set up a hotline for people to call with complaints or questions about racial bias. RRU also visits schools to educate students about ethnic minorities' cultures and the concept of racial prejudice in order to promote community harmony.

When civil society and non-profit organisations are supported by the government, they can be encouraged and supported in their efforts to improve the lives of the people in their communities.

In order to address the difficulties and many forms of discrimination that minorities encounter in the workplace, housing, and day-to-day life, the administration must create and manage minority assistance schemes properly.

The National Foundation for Communal Harmony (NFCH), which promotes communal harmony, needs to take a more proactive stance. Community harmony, brotherhood and national integration are among the goals of the National Foundation for Children's Harmony (NFCH). NFCH assists in the physical and psychological rehabilitation of child victims of communal, caste, ethnic, or terrorist violence.

Effective implementation of the provisions of the Constitution and laws in place.

citizen vigilantism needs to be checked.

Media needs to play a very responsible role when it comes to communal rifts, the secular fabric of the country needs to be kept in mind.


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