Syllabus: General Studies Paper 1 (Indian Society): Communalism is a Threat to Indian Society



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Syllabus: General Studies Paper 1 (Indian Society)


Communalism is a threat to Indian society undermining the public order and National integrity. Elucidate and suggest measures to curb Communal ideology and violence. (15 Marks)


Communalism is a social phenomenon characterized by the religion of two communities, often leading to acrimony, tension and even rioting between them”. “Communalism is a political doctrine which makes use of religious and cultural differences to achieve political ends.

  However, in the western world communalism is defined differently. According to socialist Murray Book chin, communalism is “a theory or system of government in which independent communities participate in a federation. But, in the context of Indian sub-continent, the term communalism is associated with tensions between various religious communities.



Communalism is a very serious problem looming large over India today. Even though it has been an integral part of socio political life in India for a very long time, the colonial period is widely considered to be responsible for the large-scale communalization of India. 

  • In the communal riots during the period of independence millions of people were rendered homeless while millions of others lost their property. Communalism was responsible for the division of the country into India and Pakistan. The partition was expected to resolve the riddle, but it failed. There is, yet, to develop the neighbourhood living pattern between Hindus and Muslims.
  • India is a land of diversity. And it is known for lingual, ethnic, cultural and racial diversity. Communalism in India is a modern phenomenon, which has become threat to India’s Unity in Diversity.
  • Communalism is the Indian version of fascist populism and racist nationalism. It has disrupted national unity, shattered religious brotherhood, and has endangered political stability. Socio-economic balance has been upset.
  • Religious places have been used as the stage for the political artists to exhibit their skill for this communal disharmony.
  • India is a secular country but due to communal feelings the secularization is getting affected. Secularization is narrowing down the sphere of religion to the private life of the individual. So, communalism is basically becoming a belief system through which a society, economy, and polity are viewed & expanded and around which effort is being made to organise politics.


  Stages in Indian Communalism 

  • First stage was rise of nationalist Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, etc: In the first phase of this ideology there is a belief that people who follow the same religion have common secular(political, economic, social) interests.
  • Liberal communalism:it believed in communal politics but liberal in democratic, humanist and nationalist values. The second stage provides that the social, economic and political interests of the followers of one religion are dissimilar from the interests of the followers of another religion.
  • Extreme Communalism: this had a fascist syndrome. It demanded for separate nation, based on fear and hatred. The third stage of communalism is reached when the interests of the followers of different religions are seen to be mutually incompatible.



Public order refers to the normal standards and operations of society. Communalism plays a vital role in the disturbances caused in the society, in the form of communal riots. Religious violence in India has a history, even before the Partition riots of 1947 took place. Riots in India are started from with the Kazhuhumalai and Sivakasi riots which took place in 1895 and 1899. The following examples shows how communalism undermine public order.

  • Sikh Riots 1984:This is one of the bloodshed in India, where Sikhs in large number were massacred by anti- Sikh mob. This massacre took place in response to the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by his own Sikh body Guard in response to her actions authorising the military operation. The national capital Delhi was the worst affected area along with Yamuna river areas.
  • Godhra incident in 2002: when “kar sevak” returning from Ayodhya in a Sabarmati Express were killed by fire in the coaches of train. This act was followed by the extended communal violence in Gujarat. That violence is like black spot in the history of the Gujarat and nation too, as people were killed without any mercy. Hindu and Muslim community became antagonist to each other. Till now people are fighting for justice in Supreme Court, with a ray hope from the Indian Judiciary.
  • Muzaffarnagar violence, 2013
    The cause of this ethnic clash between Jat and Muslim community is very much disputed and has many versions. According to few, it was started after some suspicious post on Social media platform Facebook. According to some, it was escalated after the eve teasing case in Shamli. Let the reasons be unknown, but what matters is, the nature and scale of loss to the country with respect to human resource and peace.



National Integration refers to the perception of single national identity among people of a country belonging to various races, castes and religion. Communalism is a belief that all those who have a common religion also have, as a result, common social, political, cultural and economic interests and identities. The foremost danger to National Integration is rapid communalism. Effect of communalism on national integrity can be explained with the following examples.

  • Partition of India: Religious politics of hindu and muslim and communalism led to the partion. Politicians also have played a villainous role in creating serious communal situations in India.  There was politics at the root of painful division of India in 1947 in the name of a particular religious community.  
  • The Khalistan movement: it is a Sikhseparatist movement, which seeks to create a separate country called Khalistān (“The Land of the Pure”) in the Punjab region of South Asia to serve as a homeland for Sikhs.
  • Kashmir issue.: Pakistan infiltrates and maintains groups in J&K that constantly urge the youths to join them with one agenda, that is: to liberate the state from India and help them in gaining freedom(Azaadi). The outcome of these radical moves and unethical means of Pakistan has resulted in the conversion of innocent youth into an army of stone pelters.


Measures to curb communal ideology

The communalism is an ideology , it cannot be suppressed by force. No ideology can be suppressed by force. Ideology has to be fought at the level of ideas.

  • Peace Committees can be set up in which individuals belonging to different religious communities can work together to spread goodwill and fellow-feeling and remove feelings of fear and hatred in the riot-affected areas. This will be effective not only in dif­fusing communal tensions but also in preventing riots from breaking out.
  • Abolition of Communal PartiesAll the political parties which thrive on religious loyalties should be banned or abolished by the government. Even non-political cultural organizations should always be kept under constant vigil so that they cannot preach communalism.
  • Transmission of the Past Heritage: Feelings of nationalism should be inculcated in the minds of people by reminding them about the glorious moments of history in Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs were combined to safeguard the interest of the country.
  • Public OpinionEfforts should be made through mass media for changing the attitude of people towards other communities. People must be aware of the evils of the communalism. There is a great need to work towards eradicating the problem of unemployment among the youths, illiteracy and poverty and that too with honesty and without any discrimination.  This will help in solving many problems, and will create awakening.  The result will be in checking on communalism to a great extent.  That is why it is expected that a lot of work have to be done at government level in this direction.
  • Inter-religious Marriage: Youth organizations and other types of associations should be formed in every locality to give opportunity to people of different communities to come closer and know each other. This may help them to practice inter-religious marriages which will lessen the social distance among the members of different religious groups.


Ways to curb communal violence.

Though India is under the grip of communal violence, but till now, other than provisions under IPC and CrPC, there is no firm law to punish the originators of such violence, no clear policy for relief and rehabilitation of victims. There are no regulations for security of witness, for accountability of public servants, etc.

  • Communal violence cannot be considered as a normal crime. Recent judgement on sajjan singh case HC said that it is a crime against humanity. Hence separate law is needed.
  • ‘Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011’ 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 Raganath Mishra Commission.
  • The role of police in communal riots is highly controversial. police can act much better, if there is political will and if they are given free hand along with the implementation of recommended police reforms.
  • The government in power has to treat the extremist communal outfits as its immediate targets and cripple their capacity to disrupt law and order. The secessionists in Kashmir, the militants in Pun­jab, the ISS (now banned) in Kerala and other extremist organisations of Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communalism have to be dealt with by the state through its law and order machinery.
  • The state has to plan and use new strategies in dealing with com­munal violence. India’s experience in recent years confirms the utility of this step. Whenever strong and secular administrators have used or threat­ened the use of strong steps, riots either did not occur or were of short duration.

For example, strong police and army intervention prevented repetition of riots in        

 Calcutta in November 1984 and in Mumbai in Janu­ary 1994. 

  • The role of media is immensely heightened during the course of communal vio­lence. Newspapers can pour oil over the troubled waters or extinguish the raging fire. The fear and hatred can be checked if the press, radio and TV report events in a way conducive to soothing the frayed nerves of people instead of inflaming the temper further. The media can contradict ru­mours in a sober manner. A careful restraint has to be exercised in reporting the number of persons of different religious communities killed or injured.



Communal violence is common now days throughout the world. In order to get rid of the problem of communalism in India, there is a need of collective efforts. All of us united and willing to discharge our duties.  If we do so, definitely harmony will prevail.  Everybody will prosper. This must be done; this was the dream of Mahatma Gandhi for a free India. Humanity is our identity and rest all made for our conveniences.


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