11 Causes of Communalism in India

Some important causes of communalism are given below:

(a) Design of the Leaders:

Proponents of this view hold that communalism has flourished in India, because the communalist leaders of both the Hindu and Muslim communities desire to flourish it, in the interest of their communities. The irony is that if communalism flourishes in India the minorities will suffer. The minorities perceive secularism as their protective cover and the only weapon against communalism.

Nevertheless India’s colonial past which produced the divide and rule policy, the Communal award, separate electorates on the basis of religions, strengthened the base of communalism in India. Ultimately the partition of undivided India into Pakistan and India (Bharat) provided further an antagonistic feeling towards each other.

(b) Tendency of the minorities:

The minorities fail to be intermingled in the national mainstream. Most of the members of minority communities do not participate in the secular nationalistic politics and insist on maintaining their separate entity. They also demand security of life and property, reservation for minorities in services etc. In this regard R.A. Schermerthorn holds that “the Muslims must realize that their future is bound up with the future of secularism and they should support and strengthen- the Hindus and others who have launched a crusade against communalism.”

(c) Orthodoxy and Obscurantism:

The orthodox and obscurantist members of the minorities feel that they have a distinct entity with their own cultural pattern, personal laws and way of thinking. Such a feeling has prevented them from accepting the concept of secularism and religious tolerance. Hindu chauvinism is also equally responsible for non-acceptance of secular principles.

The dominant and chauvinist Hindu leaders have tried to impose Hindu culture on the Muslims in the name of Indianisation. This had resulted in resistance from the Muslim community and revival of demand for separate electorates and the formation of different political parties organised in the line of fundamentalism.

(d) Organised and Militant Fundamentalist Organisation:

It has been argued by certain scholars that communal riots are mostly caused by organised fundamentalist organisations designed on the religious lines. As for instance Moin Shakir in his book “Politics and Minorities”, says these communal riots should be viewed as the handiwork of organised and militant Hindu organisations like R.S.S. They seek to achieve certain political objectives through rioting.

Communal violence is the result of political attitude of inciting one community against the other for political purposes. This process gets accelerated through mechanizations of the perverse caste, community or religious leadership. It is also not a coincidence that communal disturbances become more frequent after the Indo-Pak war (1965).” On the contrary the RSS leaders have strongly repudiated their involvement in communal riots.

(e) Weak economic status of the minorities:

The largest group of minorities in India still remains orthodox and traditional in outlook which contributes to communal feeling. As such a major chunk of Muslims in India has failed to adopt the western, scientific, technological and philosophical education. Owing to their educational backwardness, the Muslims have not been represented sufficiently in the public services, industry, trade etc. This causes the feeling of relative deprivation, which in turn, leads to the contempt of other communities, better placed in industry, service and trade. Such feelings contain the seeds of communalism.

(f) Geographical Causes:

The territorial settlement of different religious groups especially Hindus, Muslims, and Christians causes in them wide variation in the mode of life, social standards and belief patterns. Most often those patterns become contradictory and this may result in communal tension.

(g) Historical Causes:

The historical causes are no less important also. It is not an exaggeration that the Muslim religionists entered India as foreigners and started converting Hindus to Islam with the force of the sword. Many Hindus were compelled by the Muslim rulers to embrace Islam. In case of refusal, they were subjected to much suffering and injustice. On the contrary, the Hindu kings also opposed the religious policy of the Muslims kings.

Even then we find a number of instances in which the Hindus and Muslims have worked hand in hand. For the freedom of the country the Hindus and the Muslims had to fight jointly. May it be the Congress or I.N.A., the Muslims always provided able support to the Hindus and stood by their side. But gradually it contained some elements of communalism, as a result of which Muslim League was formed and it also demanded partition of the country.

(h) Psychological Causes:

Hatred, disgust, deceptive and misleading dogmas give rise to communal tensions. Stereotyped beliefs of both the communities towards one another tend to prevail since long. The Hindus construe the Muslims as fanatics and staunch fundamentalist. What is more important in this regard is that the Hindus believe that the Muslims are unpatriotic and owe their allegiance to the Islamic countries.

On the contrary, the Muslims also feel that they are being treated as second rate citizens in India and their religious practices are looked down upon by the Hindus. During the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971, no responsible duties, concerning civil defence, were assigned to the Muslims. This has created the feeling among the Muslims that they are treated as second rate citizens and a sense of distrust persists against them.

(i) Failure of the governmental machinery:

The State govt., as well as the Union government cannot evade their responsibility for the growing communalism in our country. They have repeatedly failed on several occasions to take stock of the situation, to anticipate in advance the sudden outburst of riots. They have also failed to take immediate action to minimize the intensity of tension. The governments are only trying to scapegoat the opposition parties and throwing the entire blame on them. The Government has also failed to abolish the political parties organised on the basis of communal feelings.

(j) Provocation of enemy countries:

Some foreign countries interfere in India’s internal politics and try to destabilize her internal affairs by setting one community against the other through their spying agents. The role of Pakistan in fostering communal feeling among the Muslims of our country can hardly be undermined. The Hindu fundamentalist leaders allege that the communal riots are provoked in India by Pakistan through its Indian agents.

In the like manner, whenever there is any Hindu-Muslim conflict the Pakistan authorities always hold the Hindus responsible for it and project the impression that the Government of India is also behind the scene. It has been suspected that Pakistan has encouraged and promoted communal riots by instigating the militant sections of Indian Muslim community to take recourse to violence. It has also been confirmed that Pakistan is training the Sikh terrorists and Kashmir youths and destabilizing India’s internal security by spreading communal venom. The USA has also played a dirty role through C.I.A., its secret agency.

(k) Negative effect of mass media:

The messages relating to communal tension, in any part of our country, is spread through the mass media. This has resulted in further tension and riots between the rival communities. As for instance, the news of demolition of the disputed structure at Ayodhya spread like wild fire all over the country through mass media. This aggravated the situation further, as riots spread to several cities and towns.

Submitted by : Professor Abel, Category : Communalism