Communalism by Ananya Rajput

India is a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic as system of government. Indian constitution strained “We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens; Justice-social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all; Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and unit and integrity of the Nation; in our Constituent Assembly this twenty sixth day of November 1949, do hereby, adopt, enact and give to ourselves this constitution”. Dr. B.R. Ambedar, Chairman of the Drafting Committee speaking on the Hindu Code Bill in 1951 in Parliament explained the secular concept of democracy as follows- ‘It (Secular democracy) does not mean that we shall not take into consideration the religious sentiments of the people. All that a secular state means that this Parliament shall not be competent to impose any particular religion upon the rest of the people. This is the only restraint that the constitution reorganization’. It is emphasized secular state of Indian democracy. Thus the state will remain secular as long as its citizens carry out their responsibility of self-government, in which they are aided because India has a political tradition that favors Secularism. Indian Constitution guarantees to all its citizens freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion and assures strict impartiality on the part of the state and its institution towards all religious.

Communalism is a powerful force in India. The challenges of castes, communalism and religious fundamentalism involving separatism in India are the major threats to our Secular state. They weaken the working and stability of our democratic secular Federal state and militate against the basic principles governing our national life and providing means to our new identity. ‘Casteism’ and ‘Communalism’ are tearing apart the rich and closely-knit fabric of Indian cultural pluralism.

India is a puzzling and complex mix of tribal, feudal and industrial stages of social evolution. This is compounded to low literacy rate, strangle-hold of religion, superstitions, ignorance and poverty. Apart from these and other not so easily identifiable causes of social tension, the democratic process itself is the most potent cause of tension. Each group, community and region is, as it were, up in arms against the Union Government, the only viable unifying force still left in tact. Revivalism of religious fundamentalism has pitted followers of different religions against each other. In Kashmir, it is Islam against Hindu hegemony; in Gujarat, it is Hindutva forces against Muslims and in Punjab it is Sikhs against Hindus. These tensions are not conflicts of divergent cultures; each one of them is potentially and actually a political movement aiming at realizing not a mere cultural or religious objective. Communalism is perversion of religion from a moral order to an arrangement of contemporary political convenience.

Communalism is a multi-dimensional, complex, social phenomena. There are social, political, economic, cultural and religious factors which account for the genesis of communalism and communal violence. It has generally been seen that determining role in creating communalism is not played by religion but by non-religious forces. A careful scrutiny of the demands which have been and are made by communal leaders will reveal the true character and objective of communal politics under the mask of religion, tradition and culture. Earlier British imperialism used communalism as a divide and rule policy. The same has been continued by vested interests after independence using various factors.

The roots of communalism are very deep and diversified. Some of the roots lie in the structure and nature of Indian society which is multi-religious, multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-casteist and multi-regional in character. A society divided on these basis helps the growth of communal organizations. It may be asserted that the economic condition of the Hindu and the Muslim and other communities and their different development also contributes to the growth of communalism. It is often that the communalism of the community is a reaction of the communalism of another community.

The successful democratic government lies on the principles of liberty, equality, fraternity, social justice, secularism, fair play and rule of law enshrined in Indian Constitution. To form successful democratic government, the political parties and Indian citizens must play their role to fight against the communalism and casteism in the politics and avoid these elements to act as instruments to get political gain the hands of politicians. Political parties should fight elections and exercise political power on the basis of an ideological perspective, of course, taking care of social, cultural and linguistic interests of various communities in India. There is need on the part of citizens, as they have to understand that the real purposes of communal and caste politics is to keep tem divided. Hence, the educated and the conscious have to protect them from falling prey to communal forces. Communal and caste sentiments are bound to lose their strength in India with the growth of democratic and humanistic values.

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