Polity | Article 14 : Not Our Cup of Tea


Religion has become the central-point of discussion of Indian political strata. This is another point of division in the society. Earlier the discussions were based on caste, ethnicity and language. The kind of democracy we have is contributing to the widening of the gulf between the two religions, political parties appeal to the sentiments of the people based on their faith. Religion blinds its followers, they are prepared to do whatever it takes to glorify their religion, this has given rise to a lot of hate crimes in the past and still they continue in a massive scale.

Essentially the communal divide has led to the formation of two types of India – Muslim India and Hindu India. The violence against Dalits will soon get branded as violence against Muslims against Hindus, against the Sikh community by Hindus and against Christians in states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu. One reason for all this is the rise of Hindu chauvinist psychology. These people are in effect undermining the unity of the country, either knowingly or unknowingly. The consecutive governments that have formed in the past 70 years have failed to address the problem of social plurality and this in a sense is the biggest tragedy we are facing, the concept of ‘togetherness’ is being lost in time. This can also be considered as the failure of Indian democracy, the increase in declining capacity to grasp the basic issue of plurality. India has a federal society and not just a federal polity, to make things happen here every attempt should be made to make this diversity the bedrock of unity and integrity. In our country there is a lot of clamour over the divisions because if one makes a call in the name of a particular section it means that the government is attempting to give it resources which were earlier not accessible to them, other sections will follow suit, thinking that similar benefits can be availed by them too. This opportunity is exploited by the political class in order to secure votes for themselves.

The consecutive governments have achieved development goals in terms of economic growth, human resource development but have failed to look into the bringing together the different groups of people who inhabit the country, total disregard is being shown towards this. Certain political parties strive to widen this chasm in order to achieve vested goals, playing vote bank politics to catapult themselves into power. As a result, several sections of the society feel left behind and do not take part in nation building process as a result of this. This sense of neglect will culminate in despair and vengeance towards the beneficiaries which will give rise to unnecessary hate crimes, which will take a communal colour. Diversity of the ethnic and religious kind also looks like a problem. Demands and assertions by minorities have not been given heed to in the past even now the situation prevails, Hindus are perceived to be the majority by many and they are pushed to a hegemonic position. Hindus in the country is the only community that do not receive any kind of special position, to illustrate this, Sikhs are allowed to carry arms, and Dalits/OBC are given reservations in government jobs etc. This implies the true sufferers are the Hindus and there is no clear majority community in India. Communalism in India has been in the rise since the word “secular” was added to the preamble through the 42nd Constitutional amendment in 1975. If one examines the number of communal incidents in India it is implicit from the numbers that each passing year has only seen an increase in the number of riots which bear a communal colour. The actual number of casualties are not available with any reliable Ministry or any other institution.

Most of the riots which happen are a result of three factors- One, the problem of ideology clash, Two, mixture of ideology with local party politics and Three, a spread of a rumour which will soon direct the situation to a holocaust. The Jan Sangh and Mahasabha dismiss the idea of secularism as one which was put forth to appease the Muslims. They proclaimed that Hindus were defined as those people who inhabited Bharat and who had the power to legislate for themselves. Ideological issues dominate all communal riots. The Ahmedabad riot which broke out on September 18, 1969 brought about the ideological background on which the hate campaign was build up:
(a) Muslims could not be relied upon
(b) Muslims should be sent to Pakistan and this was overdue.

In the riots after the 70’s we find that there are other factors which pulled the trigger rather than any ideology they are economic rivalry and inefficiency in administration, especially the police. This can be seen from the riots in Bihar, some 50 odd kilometers off Patna where the incident had taken a gruesome twist and yet no action was taken until there was external pressure from Islamic nations which prompted the Prime Minister herself to take cognizance of the matter and to send a batch of CRPF and BSF to contain the situation. The following days saw the District Magistrate and key officials being dismissed for their Anti-Muslim bias. Many commissions which were formed to investigate into various matters, came out with a similar suggestion that only the guilty should be charged and the police should refrain from simply implicating Muslims and exculpating Hindus, which was the usual practice.

The Indian ideal ‘sarva dharma sambhava’ not only includes tolerance but also respect to all faiths. This concept was not in consensus with many Hindu fanatic organisations which looked to wipe every other religion other than Hinduism from the face of the country, but in reality, what happened was instead of a targeted strike on non-Hindus the casualties include Hindus, Buddhists and Jains who all come under the umbrella of Hinduism. By the passage of time we have come to witness growing intolerance of Hindus against other landed faiths which include violence against people of Christian and Parsi.

The divide and rule policy of the British can no longer be stated as a reason for communal clashes in India. Communalism is not promoted by religious organisations or establishments but by secular leaders of political parties. Eg: Mohammad Ali Jinnah. A truly religious person like Mahatma Gandhi or Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad is incapable of being communal. Hindus and Muslims cannot relieve themselves from the responsibility of starting communal tensions. Christian brethren also have been dragged into this onslaught where in all incidents they are at the receiving end. The police and the administration have failed to a great extent to curb the problem from the grass root level. Our politicians have only provided this evil with more fuel.

An incident of violence in Agra, prompted the state government to provide a police check post near a nun’s ashram, the officers who were on duty instead of focusing on their job were constantly demanding for kickbacks and causing a nuisance until they were called off from the spot.

The country is growing rapidly in the economic and political front. But we severely lack any form of development in the social front, communalism is a challenge to India’s secularism. National integration is the basis of India’s survival. Those political outfits which try to make a communal polity should be banished and dealt with adequate legal action.

Article contributed by:

Ebee Antony

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