In this essay we will discuss about the communalism in Indian politics. After reading this essay you will learn about: 1. Role of Communalism in Indian Politics 2. Communal Politics after Partition of India 3. Causes Responsible for Communalism.
List of Essays on Communalism in Indian Politics
- Essay on the Role of Communalism in Indian Politics
- Essay on Communal Politics after Partition of India
- Essay on the Causes Responsible for Communalism
1. Essay on the Role of Communalism in Indian Politics:
For centuries people belonging to different religious communities have been living together in India without any friction or ill will. Major communities in India being the Hindus, the Muslims, the Sikhs, the Christians, the Parsees, the Jains, the Buddhists, etc.
All these communities lived with each other in perfect toleration. It was only at the turn of the century that the British rulers in India followed policy of divide and rule and with that the gulf between various religious communities very considerably increased.
The device of giving separate representation to each major community in elected bodies and civil services widened the gap, particularly among two major Indian communities, namely, the Hindus and the Muslims. When late Muhammed Ali Jinnah expounded his two nation theory, gap between these communities still more widened.
The result of all this was that there was communal hatred. Before the partition of the country, there were communal riots in some parts of the country resulting in the killing of several hundred people and looting and burning property worth crores of rupees. Everything inhuman and unhuman was done in the name of religion.
The country had to be partitioned because the Muslim League, under the leadership of M.A. Jinnah made it clear that the Muslims and the Hindus were two separate nations, which could not live together and partition of India was the only solution of communal and political problems of the country
2. Essay on Communal Politics after Partition of India:
In 1947, India was partitioned and with that migration of population started. Conditions in the country were such that it was almost impossible for the Hindus to respectfully live in the areas which formed Pakistan and thus they had to migrate. From India some of the Muslims migrated but a vast majority decided to remain in the county.
When constitution was being enacted there was a demand that the Hindus should have full control over political life of India because the country had been partitioned 011 the basis of two nations theory and that the Muslims had got their home land. They should migrate there and if they decided to live in India they should remain as second rate citizens. But leadership at that time firmly stood against this view point.
It was made clear that religion should have no part and role to play in Indian politics. It had already done sufficient harm and could not be allowed to do more harm to our polity. It was, therefore, decided that India will be a secular state and subsequently this was incorporated even in the preamble of the constitution itself.
Several clauses in the constitution accordingly provided that no distinction between religious communities in any walks of life will be made on the basis of religion.
In other words, constitution fathers were determined to see that religion did not become a heavy weight on political life of the country. In order to lessen the influence of religion on politics under the Representation of People’s Act, it was made clear that influencing of voters in the name of religion or exploitation of religious sentiments to get votes, was liable to even make the election of successful candidate invalid.
No such symbol will be allotted to any political party, which is likely to exploit religious sentiments of any religious community or injure those bf any other.
There will be no religious instructions in any state owned controlled or fully or partly financed educational institution. Similarly none in the state will in any way get preference in any way simply because of religion.
But unfortunately much which was expected by constitution fathers about the role of religion in politics has not come true. Some of the orthodox religious minded persons could not reconcile themselves to the idea of a secular India in which the Hindus were to be placed on equal footings with other religious communities.
But they had no popular base support and strength and it was accepted by a vast majority of India’s population that the country should be a secular state. But in spite of all this in India there have been communal riots from time to time between two major religious communities; namely, the Hindus and the Muslims.
These indicate that even after the lapse of such a long time some in India, belonging to both the communities, have not fully reconciled themselves to the basic idea and philosophy of secularism. After the partition of the country, when there was turmoil, for about a decade or so, there were no communal riots in India and it appeared that all was going well, but situation began to gradually change thereafter.
It was, however, in October, 1961, that communal riots broke out in Aligarh Muslim University and the trouble spread outside the university and in some parts of U.P., Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. It was with great difficulty that situation could be controlled.
To the satisfaction of all, for some time there were no riots in the country till 1963 when communal riots broke out in J & K. In December of that year it was reported that sacred hair of Prophet Mohammed was missing from Hazratbal Mosque in Srinagar. There were hartals, demonstrations and violence as well as lawlessness in the state.
The relic was recovered and certified as the original one. But some orthodox Muslims did not accept its genuineness and continued demonstrations which spread in some part of the East Pakistan. Large number of the Hindus was killed and their properties looted. Thousands of them were forced to leave the country to migrate to India.
It is estimated that more than 5 lakhs Hindus and those belonging to other religious minorities were forced to cross over to India. There were riots in some parts of Bengal and Bihar as well. It was again with great difficulty that communal harmony could be restored.
Communal riots again broke out at Washim in Maharashtra in 1966. On October 2, i.e. on the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, the prophet of non-violence. It is said that some members of a religious community threw stones on the processionists of the other community who were taking out a procession in support of cow protection. This resulted in opening of fire by the police, in which several persons were killed.
In 1967, there were again serious communal troubles. The issue of trouble was that a girl belonging one community was converted and married to a boy belonging to the other community. The former did not tolerate this. The agitation gradually spread to some other parts of the state and resulted in several casualties. The troops had to be called out to control the situation.
But in October of the same year there were riots in the state. This time the point of infuriation was that it was alleged that some torn pages of holy Quran were found in a latrine. Again police had to be called out. Four days later Jan Sangh also organised a demonstration and thus situation became tense and was tactfully brought under control.
In 1968, there were riots in four states, namely, U.P., Assam, West Bengal and Bihar. In U.P. early in the year in January some people belonging to one community are alleged to have attacked a political meeting of the other community and in the riots that followed 17 persons were killed.
On March 15 riots broke out in Allahabad on Holi day resulting in the death of three persons.
In Assam riots broke out on March 2,1968 on a stray cow incident and in that seven persons were killed. A few days later cow became the cause of communal riots at Tinsukia.
But serious riots broke out in Bihar in 1968 over the issue of Urdu to be given the status of second official language. This was opposed by Jan Sangh, a constituent unit in the government. The riots were of so serious magnitude that more than 150 Persons are stated to have been killed.
In Calcutta, in March of the same year there was some quarrel between a Hindu and a Muslim, which took a communal turn. In order to control the situation, police had to be given shoot at sight orders.
In Aurangabad riots broke out when a Muslim baker killed a cow. This infuriated the Hindus who looted property and destroyed bakery. Several houses were burnt and thus considerable damage was done to public and private property.
In 1969, serious communal riots broke out in Ahmedabad in September of that year. In this case again cow became cause of trouble. It is stated that a herd of cows which belonged to a Hindu Temple injured few Muslim boys near a mosque. The Muslims in turn drove the cows in the temple to which these belonged.
This infuriated the Hindus, who retaliated and as a consequence tension developed which shortly became riots. According to some sources about 600 persons were killed, while others estimate it at 1200. Several political leaders and Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, who happened to be in India at that time, went on fast to touch the conscience of the people to give up communal hatred.
But in May 1970, communal riots broke out at Bhiwandi near Bombay, when it is alleged that a procession being taken out in honour of Shivaji was stoned by some miscreants. These infuriated the processionists and in the riots that broke out about a thousand houses were destroyed and some 80 persons were killed.
In a statement issued by the then Union Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs in the year 1973 as many as 242 incidents of communal violence took place in the country. One serious riot of the year broke out in December of that year in Meerut, in which political parties charged each other for the outbreak of riots in which nine persons were killed.
In May 1974, serious riots broke out in Delhi and in order to control the situation Border Security Force had to be called out.
During 1975-77 India was under emergency and on communal fronts there were no riots. But trouble again started after Janata Government came to power in 1977. In 1978, there were serious riots in Aligarh resulting in loss of many lives. There were incidents of communal violence in some other parts of the country as well.
Communal trouble again started in August 1980 on Id day at Moradabad. It is alleged that when prayers were going on some stray animal went in the mosque. It became the source of trouble. In the subsequent communal trouble about 150 persons including some police men were killed.
As a consequence communal trouble also started in Delhi on 15th August, 1980 soon after the Prime Minister had finished her speech from the ramparts of Red Fort on independence day.
The same spread in some parts of Gujarat and J & K. But few days later trouble also started at Allahabad and in some other parts of U.P. including Sambal and Aligarh. At every place there was loss of life and property. To control the situation army had to be called and curfew imposed.
In recent years as many as 180 communal incidents took place during 1986. Of these about 50% broke out in Gujarat alone. It has been estimated that about 200 lives were lost in these incidents. In 1987, serious communal riots broke out in Meerut which resulted in heavy loss of life and property.
But communal tension in India very much increase because of Ram Janam Bhumi and Babri Masjid dispute. When the masjid was demolished on 6th December, 1992 there were riots in some parts of the country and even outside India resulting in heavy losses of lives and property.
In 1993, there were communal riots in Bombay in which hundreds were killed and property worth crores was looted.
The riots are always a matter of concern both for the society as well as the government but these are becoming of great serious concern because the country side which used to be free from communal tension is now becoming victim of communal disharmony.
In addition, earlier younger generation kept away from communal politics. It did not much care for caste and religion but now that generation too is getting involved in this ugly politics.
3. Essay on the Causes Responsible for Communalism:
There is no denial that under the existing conditions in India, all major Indian communities must live in close harmony with each other, in case both these communities as well as the nation as a whole wants to make rapid progress. Each communal riot results in loss of life of the people, creating problems for the families left behind.
There is looting of property and its destruction in the wake which creates serious social and economic problems for the individuals as well as the society. It creates tensions for the neighbours who had been otherwise living very peacefully. Heavy strain is put on the civil administration, which is forced to divert its resources to the riot torn areas.
The task of maintaining law and order becomes very difficult and all developmental activities come to a stand still for some time. The task of reconstruction and rehabilitation of those who are affected by communal fury is in no way easy. The irony is that no religious, social or political leader of any community openly supports communal disharmony. As soon as riots break out these leaders invariably issue prompt statements for maintaining communal harmony.
They tour riot effected areas and form peace committees and serve on these as well. And yet riots break out. Then another tragedy is that all this is done in the name of religion, whereas no religion propagates either communal hatred or disharmony or violence or looting of property and killing of the people.
A very important question, therefore, arises as to why communal disharmony is presisting between major religous communities, though the constitution has established a secular set up.
Some of the important causes responsible for this are as under:
i. Tendency to Keep Aloof:
Under the constitution, India has been declared a secular state. The constitution fathers had hoped that all religious communities, including the Muslims will join the main stream of national life and that they will contribute to the task of national-reconstruction.
In fact, soon after the partition of the country many Muslim leaders appealed to the Muslims to actively associate themselves in the task of national development which laid before the country.
But unfortunately quite a vast majority has not come closer to Hindu majority and general impression and stigma that the Muslims in India were responsible for the partition of the country in the past continues. Some of the Muslims have organised themselves in such organisations as Jamaite-Islami; Jamait-ul-ulama-i-Hind; Muslim Majlis, Muslim League of India and so on.
Though these bodies today have no significant role to play in national politics, yet the fact remains that by and large the Muslims remain aloof from the majority community and thus the scope for appreciating and understanding each other’s view point is considerably reduced. In this way communal harmony is hindered.
ii. Religious Orthodoxy:
Then another serious problem is religious orthodoxy of the Muslims. In every society religion, of course, plays a big role but at the same time each society is likely to receive a serious set back unless it modernises itself. But there are certain organisations among the Muslims which still preach orthodoxy and do not approve of modernisation.
These stress on medieval glories of Islam and supremacy of religion in the life of the individual. These organisations still stress on basic differences which exist between the Hindu and the Muslim ways of living and thinking. These are not prepared to bring about any change in Muslim personal laws, in spite of the fact that in some Muslim countries these laws are being reviewed and changed.
Not only this, but they threaten that if any attempt is made to change these laws then the Muslims will not hesitate to make any sacrifice to save that.
They want that Art 44 of the constitution, which provides for a uniform civil code should not be applied to the Muslims. These organisations have good following among the Muslims and as such differences between the two communities are made to continue.
iii. Economic Backwardness of the Muslims:
During the British regime whole of India was economically backward, but even in those days the Muslims were comparatively economically more backward, as compared with the Hindus. It was hoped that after independence when equal opportunities would be provided to all, the Muslims in India would also take the fullest advantage of that.
But even now the percentage of Muslims going to educational, technical, medical and other professional institutions is much less than their population.
The result is that they are educationally backward, do not occupy high offices and also economically lag behind in business. As such they are today economically backward. This economic disparity between the two communities is creating wide gap and many misunderstanding; one community feeling that it is being constantly exploited by the other or that the richness of one is only at the cost of poverty of the other.
iv. Role of Pakistan:
Pakistan was created on the basis of two nation theory, i.e., that the Hindus and the Muslims were are separate nations, which can not live together. With the creation of Pakistan, the Muslims got their homeland and those Muslims who did not wish to live in India migrated to Pakistan.
It was very much hoped that after the creation of this new state both the countries will attend to their domestic problems and devote themselves to the task of national reconstruction, not interfering in the internal affairs of other country.
But from the very beginning Pakistan tried to play the role of guardian of the Muslims in India. On the least pretext it tries to provocate the Muslims of India. In every communal riot it holds the Hindus of India responsible. It always tries to show the world that the Muslims of India are deliberately being kept backward and in a state of slavery.
Pakistan radio and press constantly propagates that the Muslims of India are at the mercy of the Hindus and that all crimes against the Muslims of India are committed in a planned way and with indirect approval of the government.
In this way many Muslims fall into the trap of propaganda of Pakistan and carry some misconceived notions which do not help bringing the two nations as closer to each other, as otherwise these would have come.
v. Responsibility of the Government:
Many have held government responsible for the continuance of communalism. They point out that Ministers both at the Centre and states make such statements at times to win favour of religious communities which result in disharmony, raise un-necessary hopes and make false promises which they cannot keep.
These governments so far have failed to find out real causes of communal riots. Ministers approach religious leaders for getting their blessings and request them to appeal to their followers for casting their votes in their favour, etc. All this encourages communalism. Not only this, but it is alleged that quite often law enforcing agencies fail to quickly control communal riots, thus, creating many apprehensions in the minds of worst affected religious community.
vi. Role of Communal Parties:
India has decided to be a secular state in which communal politics should play no role and there should be no communal parties. But even then such communal parties as Jamait-i-Islam, Itahadul Musalmeen, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, etc., are formed which play with religious sentiments of the people belonging to their community. They try to develop narrow out look among them.
They do not hesitate to spread communal violence to maintain their existence and if need be spread even communal hatred. Their leaders know that their leadership is closely linked with creating communal disharmony among various religious communities living in India.
vii. Hindu Chauvinism:
Even before the partition of India, when two nation theory was being preached by the Muslim League, there were Hindu organisations which always stressed that India was essentially a land of the Hindus and that the Muslims had come to the country as invaders only.
But after the partition of the country many among the Hindus forcefully argued that since the Muslims had got their homeland, India which was now left behind, should be the land of the Hindus.
They talked of Hindu Rashtra, Hindu Sanskriti, Hindu Maryada and so on. They wanted that high offices in India should exclusively be the monopoly of the Hindus. According to them the Muslims should be Indianised, if they are to become nationalists. Some preached that the Hindus of India should not only remain Hindus but fanatic Hindus as well, so that they could preserve Hindu culture and civilisation.
Some of these leaders declared that the Muslims in India were taking undue advantage of the endurance of the Hindus and that this should in no way be allowed to linger on.
They charge the government of following policy of appeasement towards the Muslims. When some of the Muslims demanded separate electorates for themselves the Hindu Chauvinists very sharply reacted to the demand and demanded that these Muslims still believed in two nation theory and should be sent to Pakistan.
They characterise the Muslims as dangerous and the biggest den of communal and anti-national activities. This attitude of these Hindus creates many apprehensions among the minds of the Muslims and thus widens the gap between the two communities.
viii. Vote Bank Background:
India is a democracy in which each political party tries to catch maximum voters for itself. But in India unfortunately political parties try to have religious communities as a vote bank, which means that community as a whole should vote for it.
These try to appease them and leave an impression that interests of one religious community are not safe in the hands of other. For this the parties try to create communal ill feelings and many misunderstandings as well.
ix. Ever Increasing Muslim Population:
By and large, the Muslims of India have not accepted family planning and welfare programmes launched by the Government of India with the result that their population has rapidly increased.
This has created many apprehensions in the minds of the Hindus who feel that in case this tendency is not checked, Muslim population in the country will so much increase that demand will once again be made for the partition of the country. This widens the gap between the two communities resulting in disharmony and apprehensions.
x. Attitude of the Government:
Lastly, then comes the attitude of the government. Though at times there have been communal riots in the country, yet the causes of problem have not been fully diagnosed. Every time the ruling parties everywhere satisfy themselves by saying that the riots had been masterminded by the opposition parties.
In some cases Jana Sangh and R.S.S. are held responsible whereas in other cases blame is thrown on Muslim League and other Muslim dominated parties. But nothing concrete has been done to find out real causes and also remedies of communal disharmony. This casual attitude of the government does not help in finding real solution of the problem but perpetuates that.
xi. Suggestions for Checking Communalism:
Thus several causes combined together are responsible for the gap which exists between two major religious communities in India. In case it is desired that this gap should be abridged for that concrete and solid steps will have to be taken. The task is difficult, but the satisfaction is that both the communities have not shown any disunity or major differences at the times of emergencies say e.g., during Indo-Pakistan wars.
The Muslims and the Hindus stood side by side with each other and did not hesitate to sacrifice their lives for the sake of mother India. It will be most appropriate, if such religious and political parties are legally banned which propagate communal hatred and live on the exploitation of the religious sentiments of the people, both directly and indirectly.
The government should invigorate its propaganda machinery to make the masses realise the harm which these parties are likely to do to national unity and integrity. Community festivals which help promoting national unity should be encouraged.
It has been found that quite often riots take place at the time of taking out of processions. Elaborate arrangements should be made on these occasions for maintaining law and order. In addition, a code should be developed for all processionist’s which should be strictly enforced.
Rumours should not be allowed to play any role and immediate counter rumours steps should be taken. Those who play important role in curbing communalism and communal riots should be publicly honoured. Mohalla Samitis should be organised, consisting of non-political and non-communal minded persons. Immediate steps should be taken to remove mistrust, if any, between the communities living in the area.
No time should be allowed to lapse because that increases mistrust. In maintaining law and order police authorities should seek maximum co-operation of the minorities and weaker section of society.
Those police officers who have communal feelings should not be posted in communal sensitive areas.
Need, importance and utility of communal harmony should be propagated vigorously. An eye should be kept on the activities of communal militant organations and where necessary checks should be applied. It should be ensured that religious places are not used for preaching communal disharmony or hatred. These should not be allowed to be used for storing weapons.
Where riots frequently break out collective fines should be imposed so that all feel the punch of communal fury. It is only then that religion will not become a heavy weight on the political life of India, but will become a cementing force for nation’s unity and territorial integrity.
Those preachings of all religions which aim at communal harmony and brother-hood should be compiled and circulated among the masses and among the students so that their tender minds develop and grow not with narrow mindedness but with a feeling a brotherhood.
Ministers, both at the Centre and states should not be allowed to make such statements which are based on appeasement of a religious community.
If any such statement is made such a Minister should be pulled up by the Prime Minister/Chief Minister to avoid unnecessary controversy and tensions. Similarly no Minister should approach any religious leader for winning political favour from him. Vote bank psychology should be discouraged in so far as religious communities are concerned.
Law enforcing agencies and personnel who fail to take prompt action to control communal riots or disturbances should be quickly punished to convince the people of the seriousness of the government.
Electronic media and press should be extensively used for promoting communal harmony. Similarly mixed community housing schemes should be introduced on large scale.
If these and similar other measures are taken, it may be hoped that communalism in India will be checked. It will go a long way if the Muslims in India give up present system of living in isolation and try to flow in the national main stream.