Here is an essay on ‘Communalism’ for class 9, 10, 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Communalism’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on Communalism
- Essay on the Conceptional Background of Communalism
- Essay on Communalism in India
- Essay on Communal Violence
- Essay on the Theories Regarding Communalism
- Essay on the Prescriptive Measures to Combat Communalism
Essay # 1. Conceptional Background of Communalism:
Communalism in the western concept is referred to 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 the community. But in the Indian sub-continent context, communalism has come to be associated with conflicts and clashes between different religious communities.
Communalism as a political philosophy has its roots in the ethnic and cultural diversity of Africa. It was used to refer to the characteristics of different ethnic groups and the community’s lack of interaction with each other. Communalism in South Asia is used to denote the differences between the various religious groups and communities. The term has been extensively used to denote conflicts between those groups.
Communalism as an ideology consists of three elements:
i. A belief that people who follow the same religion have common political, economic, and social interests.
ii. A notion that, in a multi religious society, these common interests of one religion are dissimilar and divergent from the interests of the followers of another religion,
iii. The interests of the followers of the different religions or of different ‘communities’ are seen to be completely incompatible, antagonist, and hostile.
The two other related concepts of communalism are:
1. Secularism and
Secularism as a concept has its origin in western philosophy. It was initially used to refer to the separation of the church from the state, which gives the state a position of neutrality between different religions, while at the same time, it guarantees all citizens right to adhere to any religion. Holyoake has been regarded as the originator of the concept of secularism because of his important work, such as, ‘Principles of Secularism’ and ‘The Origin and Nature of Secularism’.
A secular state is defined as a state which recognises every citizen as equal and does not recognise any social or religious stratification for any political benefit. Secularism is tolerance of all religions with special emphasis on the protection of minorities and preservation of communal harmony.
However, in the words of Rizvi (2005), the essence of secularism rests on two basic principles:
(i) Separation of religion from politics.
(ii) Acceptance of religion as purely and strictly private affairs of individuals and having nothing to do with the state.
Sometimes secularism is used as a concept opposite to religious dogmatism but in reality, rather than remaining opposed to religion, secularism takes a dispassionate view in running the affairs of the state.
Region is a geographical unit and is delimited from other regions. Region as a social system reflects the relation between different human beings and groups. Regions are an organised cooperation in cultural, economic, political, or military fields. Region acts as a subject with distinct identity, language, culture, and tradition.
Regionalism is an ideology and political movement that seeks to advance the causes of regions. As a process, it plays a role within the nation as well as outside the nation, that is, on a transnational level. Both types of regionalism have different meaning and have positive as well as negative impact on society, polity, diplomacy, economy, security, culture, development, negotiations, etc.
At the transnational level, regionalism refers to international cooperation to meet a common goal or to resolve a shared problem or it refers to a group of countries such as—Western Europe, or Southeast Asia, linked by geography, history, or economic features. Used in this sense, regionalism connotes to the attempts to consolidate the economic links between these countries.
Regionalism at the national level refers to a process in which sub- state actors become significant and power devolves from the central level to regional governments. These are the regions within a country, distinguished in culture, language, and other sociocultural factors.
Essay # 2. Communalism in India:
India from the ancient times has a traditional of religious coexistence. For example, from the ancient Indian history we know that Ashoka followed religious tolerance and focussed mainly on Dhamma. In the medieval period, we have the example of a great ruler like Akbar, who was the epitome of secular practices and believed in propagating such values by abolishing Jajhiya tax and starting of Din-I-ilahi and Ibadat Khana.
Same acceptance for different cultures and tradition was practised in several other kingdoms throughout India, though examples of a few sectarian rulers like Aurangzeb are also present who were least tolerant for other religious practices. Such rulers expressed religious dogmatism by imposing taxes on religious practices of other communities, destructing other religious monuments, forced conversions, etc.
However, communalism in India as we know today, is believed to be of modern origin and a result of the emergence of modern politics. The roots can be traced to the 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 (by Communal award colonial government mandated that consensus over any issue among different communities—Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs, and others as a precondition for any further political development), which faced strong resistance from Mahatma Gandhi and others. The feeling of communalism has been heightened by these developments.
Chronology of Development of Communalism in India:
India is a nation imbibed in diversity— lingual, ethnic, cultural, and racial diversity. The idea that is popularly propagated to contend the diversity is “Unity in Diversity”. There have been instances in the history of the nation that have threatened to break this fabric of unity.
Some of them can be accounted as:
First stage was rise of religious nationalism—Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, etc. Roots of this can be surmised as the developments in the later part of 19th century with Hindu revivalist movement like Shuddhi movement of Arya Samaj and Cow protection riots of 1892. On the other hand, movements like Faraizi movement started by Haji Shariatullah in Bengal to bring the Bengali Muslims back on the true path of Islam also impacted the sense of communalism. Later, leaders like Syed Ahmed Khan projected Indian Muslims as a separate community (qaum) having interest different from others.
Second stage was of Liberal Communalism—it believed in communal politics but liberal in democratic, humanist, and nationalist values. This wave existed before 1937. For example, organisations like Hindu Mahasabha, Muslim League, and personalities like M.A. Jinnah, M M Malviya, and Lala Lajpat Rai had this approach.
Third was the stage of Extreme Communalism which had fascist features. It demanded a separate nation, based on fear and hatred. There was tendency to use violence of language and action, for example, the Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha after 1937. It spread as a by-product of colonialism, economic stagnations, and absence of modern institutions of education and health.
These factors caused competition, people started using nepotism (patronage bestowed or favouritism shown on the basis of family relationship, as in business and politics), etc. Short-term benefits from communalism started gaining grounds and this gave rise to communal politics.
After this period the spread of education amongst the peasant and small landlords gave rise to the new middle class. This class started demanding representation based on communal grounds and in this way the social base for communalism widened.
The Mughal rule and the 1857 Revolt made the colonial administration suspicious towards Muslims, hence they patronised the Hindus. Upper caste Hindus dominated colonial services as they adapted early to the colonial structure. This resulted in resentment in Muslims in the late 19th century and they then formed a pressure group under Sir Sayed Ahmed Khan to bargain as a separate community.
In contrast, Congress focussed on ‘rights and freedom of individual’. In several parts, religious distinction were layered by social and class distinction, causing communal distortion. In many instances, communal colour was induced by communal politics.
Communalism in many cases was crisscrossed by struggle for economic power. For example—in western Punjab at that time, Muslim landlords opposed Hindu moneylenders. In eastern Bengal, Muslim jotedars opposed Hindu zamindars. Later on, communalism developed as a weapon of economically and politically reactionary social classes and political forces.
Divide and Rule:
Communalism was a channel for providing service to colonialism and the feudal lords. British authorities supported communal feelings and divided Indian society for their authoritative ruling. Through actions like official patronage of communal biasness, favouring communal press, and people and agitations, acceptance of communal demands by the British politically strengthened communal organisations.
British started accepting communal organisations and leaders as the real spokesperson of communities and adopted a policy of non-action against communalism. Communal riots were not crushed. Separate electorate was introduced in 1909 and communal award in 1932. These fulfilled the agenda of the British authorities of ruling India by dividing the societies on communal lines.
These unprecedented developments in the administration of the Indian society gave rise to communal and sectarian facets in the political and sociocultural life of Indians.
Essay # 3. Communal Violence:
India has witnessed brutal communal violence in the pre and post-Independence era. These have marred the achievements of the nation.
Some of them are:
1. Partition of India, 1947:
Independence for India came with a heavy price. The country was divided into India and Pakistan. After partition, millions of people were forced to move from both sides of the border. Hindus in Pakistan and Muslims in India were killed in masses, women were raped, and children and aged people were also not spared. Later, the problem of refugees and their rehabilitation became one of the biggest challenges for independent India.
2. Anti-Sikh Riots, 1984:
This was one of the worst riots in the recent history of India. Sikhs in a large number were massacred by anti-Sikh mobs. This massacre took place in response to the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her own Sikh body guard in response to her actions authorising the military operation in the Golden Temple to curb terrorism.
3. Ethnic Cleansing of Kashmiri Hindu Pundits, 1989:
Kashmir is known as the paradise of India and was known for its Kashmiryat, that is, the reflection of love, peace, and harmony through brotherhood and unity of Hindu, Muslims, and other communities living together. But, this perception faced a serious blow because of the extremist terrorism in the Kashmir valley.
The terrorism believed to be inspired by Islamic nationalism has led to mass killing and large scale exodus of Kashmiri Pundits from the valley to the various regions and corners of the India, giving them the status of refugees in their own country. Since then, the valley is under the grip of communal violence and continues even till the present times.
4. Babri Masjid Demolition in Ayodhya, 1992:
It is believed that in the medieval period, Mughal general Mir Baqi, destroyed the sacred temple of the Hindus that was built on the site of Hindu god Rama’s birth place and in its place built a mosque, named after Mughal ruler Babur. In 1990, due to political mobilization, there was attempt to resurrect the temple in the place of the mosque.
Hindu religious groups and “kar sevak” in large numbers visited Ayodhya from all parts of India, in support of demolishing Babri masjid and building Ram temple there. These movements caused a huge amount of bloodshed all over the country and since then it is a disputed matter.
5. Godhra Riots, 2002:
“Kar sevaks” returning from Ayodhya in a Sabarmati Express were killed by torching the coaches of the train. This act was followed by the extended communal violence in Gujarat. Hindu and Muslim community became antagonists to each other.
6. Assam Communal Violence, 2012:
Large scale illegal immigration from Bangladesh has threatened to change the demography of North eastern states. In 2012, there were ethnic clashes between Bodos’ tribal extremist groups and immigrants from Bangladesh in the Bodoloand Terrotorial Autonomous District (BTAD) areas. Ethnic tensions between Bodos and mostly Bengali-speaking Muslims escalated into a riot in Kokrajhar in July 2012, when unidentified miscreants killed four Bodo youths at Joypur.
7. Muzaffarnagar Violence, 2013:
The cause of this ethnic clash between the Jat and Muslim community still remains unconfirmed. According to some, it ensued after some suspicious post on social media platform Facebook and according to others, it was escalated after the eve teasing case in Shamli. Despite the cause and reason, the consequence and the brutality of this incidence left a scar on the face of the nation.
These and many other big and small violent incidents have disturbed the peace and communal harmony of the nation time and again. These have claimed the lives and property of innumerable innocent people untouched by communal feeling.
Besides the incidences mentioned earlier, Bombay bomb incident (1993), attack on Akshardham (2002), and Varanasi bomb (2006) are other instances when the peace and coexistence of the general public have been tarnished.
Essay # 4. Theories Regarding Communalism:
Generally, communalism is understood as rivalry kept and practised by one community or religion towards another or each other. Communalism can be considered an ideology which states that society is divided into religious communities whose interests differ and are at times even opposed to each other.
The antagonism practiced by members of one community against the people of another community and religion can be termed communalism. This antagonism goes to the extent of falsely accusing, harming, and deliberately insulting a particular community and extends to looting, burning down the homes and property, dishonouring women, and even killing people. Richard Lambert defines communalism as “something colours political behaviour and produces a community oriented outlook.”
Louis Dumont states that “communalism is an affirmation and assertion of the religious community as a political group.” In the words of Satish Sabarwal, “communalism in our sense means the channelling of personal sentiments and actions primarily with reference to the ascriptive group whose boundaries are determined by the accident of one’s birth”. According to Bipan Chandra, “communalism is the belief that because a group of people follow a particular religion, they have as a result, common social, political, and economic interests”.
Communalism is a modern phenomenon and its fundamental interests are secular, like competition for share in political power or economic benefits. Religion is not its fundamental cause but an instrument used to achieve these goals as it contains great mobilizing power. A significant example is Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Father of Pakistan, who advocated the theory of a separate nation for Muslims (the Two Nation theory), was essentially a communalist but not essentially a man of religion.
M.A. Jinnah did not represent the masses of the Muslim population. The conservative Ulamas, on the other hand, were closer to the masses and represented their aspirations. No wonder that Jinnah and the Deoband Ulemas never saw eye to eye on political matters. They were closer to the Indian National Congress than to the Muslim League, which was the party of the Muslim elite. They supported the composite nationalism than Muslim separation. Similarly, many religious people who are having deep rooted knowledge in religion do not engage in propagating divisive communal thoughts.
Jawaharlal Nehru while delivering a speech in Punjab Provincial Congress in 1928 clearly stated that the Hindu-Muslim antagonism was rooted in the economic exploitation stimulated by imperialism. The role of religion is too less in a communal issue and the economic and political aspirations of both the communities play the major role.
“It is an outcome largely of anger and passion and when we regain our tempers, it will fade into nothingness. It is a myth with no connection with reality and it cannot endure. It is really the creation of our educated class in search of office and employment……… What does it matter to the Muslim peasant whether a Hindu or Muslim is a judge at Lahore? Economic issues run along different lines. There is a great deal in common between the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu (Landlords) and a great deal in common between the Muslim Sikh and Hindu peasantry; but very little in common between a Muslim peasant and a Muslim landlord.”
Essay # 5. Prescriptive Measures to Combat Communalism:
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in India fights for the causes of rights of the victims, but its recommendations are advisory in nature. From time to time, respective governments have constituted various committees, commissions, bills, and police force to give recommendations to solve the issue of communal violence.
Committees and Commissions:
The Nanavati-Mehta Commission was set up by Gujarat government in 2002 to enquire about Gujarat violence. The Sachar Committee, appointed in 2005, was commissioned to prepare a report on the latest social, economic and educational conditions of the Mushin commissary in India. Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) was set up in 2010. EOC was to set up a grievance redressal mechanism for all individual cases of discriminations— religion, caste, gender, and physical ability among others.
The Ranganath Mishra Commission was entrusted by the Government of India to suggest practical measures for the upliftment of the socially and economically backward sections among religious and linguistic minorities and to include the modalities of implementation for the same.
The report of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, headed by former Chief Justice of India, Ranganath Mishra, says that 10% should be reserved for Muslims and 5% for other minorities in central and state government jobs in all cadre and grades. The purpose of all the aforementioned committees is to give recommendations to find out the causes of backwardness of minorities and steps required to improve their conditions.
Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011:
This bill lapsed in the Parliament. The bill provided for a seven-member national authority for communal harmony, justice, and reparations. It attempted to safeguard the minority sections. It had provisions for ensuring accountability of the district administration. This has already been recommended by the Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Commission.
The Role of Police:
The role of police in communal riots is highly controversial. Generally, riot victims complain that police did not come to the rescue, police forces were themselves instrumental in arresting the innocent people and harassing them inside the lockup, etc. Police can act much better, if there is political will and if they are given a free hand along with the implementation of recommended police reforms. There are specialized battalions of Rapid Action force in India, which is a wing of CRPF, to deal with riots, riot like situations, crowd control, rescue and relief operations, and related unrest.