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Mains Test Series

Communalism, Regionalism & Secularism.

Q. Discuss communalism in Indian society as a product of its history. (150 Words)


Communalism refers to the belief in the primacy of one’s religious community over others, often leading to conflict and violence between different religious groups. Communalism as an ideology emphasizes the interests and identity of a particular religious community over those of the larger society.

Communalism as a product of its history:

  1. Medieval rulers: Few rulers like Aurangzeb were least tolerant of other religious practices. Their policies, such as imposing taxes(Jazia) on nonMuslim communities, destroying temples, forcing conversions, killing sikh gurus, etc., were instrumental in deepening and establishing the feeling of communal difference in India.
  2. Partition of Bengal: Communalism had its roots in the partition of Bengal in 1905 and the feature of a separate electorate under the Government of India Act of 1909.
  3. Religious revivalist movements: Movements of conversion and reconversion like the Shuddhi Movement. Religious conversions resulted in communal tensions in colonial times.
  4. Communal Award: The British government appeased various communities through communal awards in 1909, 1919 and 1935. The feeling of communalism has deepened since then, fragmenting Indian society and being a cause of unrest. Later, demands for communal representation were initiated by various communities themselves.
  5. Communal Riots: After independence, communalism persisted as the biggest threat to India’s secular fabric. For instance, the Partition riots (1947), the Anti-Sikh riots (1984), the riots after the Babri Masjid demolition (1992), etc.

Stages in Indian colonialism:

  1. The first stage was the rise of nationalist Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, etc. and the roots of this were laid in the later part of the 19th century with the Hindu Revivalist Movement. For instance, the Shuddhi Movement of Arya Samaj and the cow protection riots of 1892.
  2. The second stage (before 1937) was Liberal communalism, which believed in communal politics but liberal in democratic, humanist, etc., for example, Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim league.
  3. Third stage: It was the stage of extreme communalism, which has a fascist syndrome. It demanded separate nations based on fear and hatred. It spread as a by-product of colonialism, economic stagnation and the absence of modern education and health institutions.


It’s the need of the hour to address communalism, which is a long-term process and requires the involvement of various stakeholders, including the government, civil society and the public. It requires a holistic approach that addre

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